‘The dominant design in a product class is, by definition, the one that wins the allegiance of the market place, the one that competitors and innovators must adhere to if they hope to command significant market following’ (Utterback, 1995). A dominant design is often the norm within the market which creates difficulties in other similar products to compete for market share. This often creates a monopoly over alternatives, whereby the only means of competing is to imitate or expand upon the concept. There are often factors that lead to a design becoming the dominant force:
- Economies of Scale
- Market entrance time
- Product standardising
- Distribution networks
- Market segmentation
Interestingly, dominant designs can link to diffusion theory portrayed by Rogers. Getting your product to market as quick as possible may mean it diffuses quicker than competitors and reaches the majority of users faster. If this occurs; a business may experience ‘buyer loyalty and brand retention’ (Constantinos et al, 2005). The product or design may become the dominant design and be hard to dislodge by competitors and alternatives.
Dominant design also links through to path dependency, assessing the legitimacy, value and meaning behind the widely adopted market trend.
The current dominant design is AC power. This has been used in data centres for many years and is the standard norm in the market. There is much infrastructure in place that uses AC power at the moment and there is a strong loyalty towards this design. However, the change in process innovation brought to light in recent times is likely to challenge this dominant design and move towards another process in years to come. There are already businesses such as Facebook who are using this process; something that will help the process challenge the current AC dominant design due to bench-marking. The likely cost savings and benefits that DC power could bring may help it become the norm. Likewise, this has never really been an option before as the technology has not previously been in place to support the use of DC power until now.