Dealing with Disruption–The Next Ten Years

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The World Economic Forum have published a new report on innovation, titled Dealing with Disruption. Unlike previous reports, this is not a downloadable PDF, but instead an interactive website available here. It is worth reading though, even in this not-so-user-friendly format.

Disruptive innovation is a critical driver of progress. When we look at the past century, we can see countless examples: automobiles replaced horse carriages, telephones supplanted telegraphy, email made fax machines obsolete. Interactive social media replaces e-mails. Disruptive transitions to superior technologies makes our progress take frog leaps into unexpected new models of both business and social interaction.

The most recent wave of disruption is driven by digital technology. “Software is eating the world,” as Marc Andreessen, founder of Netscape and venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, famously observed, and no incumbent in any industry is safe. In the last decade alone, we’ve changed the way we communicate and connect with people, how we consume all types of media, how we shop and how we travel, to name just a few. These innovations are collectively so pervasive that it’s easy to forget how we lived before them.

While disruption has major upsides, not everyone wins. Disruption is just that. Old firms are challenged and destroyed, as Motorola was by Nokia, and as Nokia was by Apple. Yet this force of disruption, in the form of new technologies, business models, and products and services, is persistent and overwhelming, and overall to the better.

The World Economic Forum’s new report provides the perspectives of leading entrepreneurs and investors on the impact of disruption and how policy-makers and society can best respond. Through interviews with insiders, it describes how disruptive innovation just might change the way we live and work several times over, in the predictable time horizon of just the next ten years.

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