Ecton-Individual Case Analysis

Topics: Innovation, Marketing, Clayton M. Christensen Pages: 6 (1646 words) Published: October 1, 2013
1. How does the Ecton machine differ from the existing technology in the market? What characteristics/application does it have that are similar to that of conventional machine? What characteristics/applications are different?

The existing ultrasound technology in cardiology was constantly focusing on improving image quality and providing better quantitative information to response to clinical demands, dreaming that one day it could substitute the expensive imaging techniques such as MRI. Some established companies had developed sophisticated edge detection algorithms that can obtain biomechanical characteristics of the heart; others had developed machines that have superior image quality or even worked on 3-dimensional echocardiography. However, Ecton didn’t focus much on the improvement of the image quality or to provide more quantitative information, they put their engineering effort in making the echo machine portable and cheap, yet achieve the acceptable level of image quality required by the alternative market.

The traditional Doppler echocardiography instruments are generally bulky and expensive. Most of them are located in an “echo Lab” which is usually in the cardiology department. Although the echo machines are able to be wheeled into surgery suits or ICU to image the heart function, the movement could be disruptive to patient flow through the cardiology department’s echo lab. However, Ecton’s compact Doppler echocardiography instrument is portable, smaller and cheaper compared to the conventional machine, which makes it possible to be used in the surgery suits, ICU and emergency rooms. However, the machine offered fewer features and less versatility than the conventional machines. Nevertheless, the machine is able to produce excellent image quality as the conventional machine.

Size
Price
Provide more quantitative info
Image quality
Conventional echo Machine
Large(5’X4’X4’) & difficult to move around
High($80,000-$300,000)
Yes
Excellent
Ecton’s echo Machine
Compact & portable
Low($38,000)
No
Good

2. Where is Ecton positioning itself in the current ultrasound imaging marketplace? Is it a sustaining or disruptive technology?

Before analyzing Ecton’s position in the current ultrasound imaging marketplace, we need to review the 2 technologies coined by Clayton M. Christensen. The term "disruptive technology" and “sustaining technology” refers to the different types of technological innovations that affect the critical performance trajectory in different ways. Sustaining technology refers to the technology that improves the performance of the established product along the dimensions of performance that the mainstream customers historically valued. On the other hand, disruptive technology introduce a very different package of attributes from the one mainstream customers historically values and they often perform far worse along one or two dimensions that are particularly important to those customers.[1] In other words, sustaining technology try to fulfill or forecast the mainstream customers’ demand by bringing a better product into an established market while the disruptive technology try to meet the demand of an initially niche market. Chart below shows the major components defined the disruptive technology.

Clayton M. Christense defined 2 disruptive technologies, namely low-end disruptive and new-market disruptive. The major difference between the 2 technologies is the target market. While low-end disruptive technology tends to address the lower end customers in the mainstream customers with a lower-cost solution, while the new-market disruptive try to complete in the non-consumption and niche market which may create new value network.

To correctly position Ecton, it is important to analyze the performance trajectory of the conventional technology in the ultrasound image market for cardiology. The mainstream customers in the ultrasound cardiology imaging market are...

References: [1] Joseph L. Bower and Clayton M. Christensen
1995 Harvard Business Review: Disruptive Technologies: Catching the Wave
[2] David J. Teece
The theoretical context of strategic management: Profiting from technological innovation: Implications for integration, collaboration, licensing and public policy
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