Future impact of disruptive technologies

The cloudThere is a sense of profound change in the air in companies we work with. This is especially true for the large banks and other companies active in B2C. The rapidly changing consumer technology world, along with a move to web based services and clouds, is fundamentally changing how business gets done.

Most of us have either witnessed this first hand or have read about it in the press. We see this change all around us in the highly innovative new mobile devices and their ecosystems changing the world of services, computing and connectivity.

Myself I have been inseparable from my laptop since about 1994, when a portable computer cost approximately five thousand euro and I was bringing along documents and a mail database on the hard drive going back to then.

Recently I am more relying on my iPhone and iPad with smart apps, which in total cost a fraction of what my equipment and software investment was ten years ago, and on synchronising my work documents through a cloud service. I use Skype and Facetime and have brought down my monthly phone bill by more than 90%, whilst I at the same time have become much more connected.

Nokia 8110I remember in August 1997 when I used my mobile with GPRS to synch work e-mails whilst on holiday in Madrid and the telecom cost was about one thousand euro for a week. The phone was a Nokia 8110 with the sliding cover and I connected it to my Compaq Armada laptop with a USB cable. Now with WIFI, 3G and 4G and Bluetooth to the computer, it is about 20 euro per month and I am always connected!

The cloud is rapidly becoming the way we deliver and receive virtually every meaningful service today. This includes music (Spotify), television (web based apps), movies (Netflix), applications (Microsoft Office 365), home alarms, news, phone calls (Skype, Viber, Facetime), social media, etc.

The latest example is Adobe, who says they is moving to an online subscription-based model for the software package it sells to designers, web developers, video editors and other creative professionals. Even our data centers are beginning to move out of our organisations. In Bearing we migrated our IT environment to virtual servers more than two years ago.

This year I hear story after story from company executives partially, or even in some cases almost completely, moving their information technology outside the corporate firewall, something almost unthinkable even a year or two ago. If these changes were all that was happening it would be a major challenge for any organisation.

Taking all these new trends into account, we have a closely grouped set of disruptions of the technology world and the associated business landscape that are happening almost at the same time.

As most of us know, a disruptive technology is a technological innovation, product, or service that eventually overturns the existing dominant technology or product in a market, or that opens up a new market. More often than not the significance here is in the impact of the technology rather than just the technology itself.

In the picture below, published under the creative commons license, we can see some examples of technology shifts of the past 25 years and expected upcoming shifts in the next five years. Imagine how the extension of these trends will continue to change our world.

disruptive technology shifts

To hear one view of what is to come, it can be interesting to hear the predictions of a business executive in the centre of the vortex. In three brief video interviews McKinsey Global Institute made with Eric Schmidt last week, Google’s executive chairman explores his view on the emerging technologies that are likely to have the greatest disruptive impact on economies, business models, and people in the future.

The first video is about how new technologies change our understanding of how biology works, and in particular how the human brain works, how DNA works and how protein folding works. Innovations that will help the medical industry to produce better diagnoses and medicines.

Biology Goes Digital

The second video is about how the way we interact with computers will change, from the command-and-control interfaces we are currently used to, into a situation where the computer becomes much more of a friend that we can have a meaningful dialogue with.

My Computer, My Friend

The third video is about a new set of ultrapowerful, ultralight, ultraconductive materials that can now be manufactured at scale. And there’s a revolution, largely driven by a set of universities, around new kinds of these manufacturing services that will change everything.

Materials and Manufacturing

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