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Technology as the Great Disrupter

by: J. R. Klein

Since the dawn of time and most recently the industrial revolution, technologies have had a disruptive impact on business and society. In today’s world, this impact has become more wide-reaching, and the cycle of change has become shorter. The proliferation of technology-based start-ups have become significant change agents as new job creators and creators of new business environments. Even marginal improvements are creating disruption by building upon the disruptive power of technology. Marketers are targeting individuals directly through mobile phones which have become an extension of our arm. These amazing changes are not the beginning and are certainly not the end.

Interconnective Nature of Technology

Technology has facilitated an interconnection of nations with seamless communication leading to growth in international trade, consumer access to commodities, and more stability in pricing of products and services. Technology has enabled an ever expanding diversity and has spawned an optimisation of the workforce that is not limited to physical and geographical boundaries. The exchange of technology and know-how has enabled the formation of new industries in underdeveloped countries and had a generally egalitarian effect. It has created a new platform for international competition that has benefited consumers by increasing access to better quality goods at accessible costs. By simplifying cooperation and understanding among people, it fosters an appreciation of other cultures and societies thereby encouraging the exchange of ideas and options. These dramatic changes in the world market are also having a deleterious effect on old business models.

Entreprenuerial Explosion

Just as technology spawned the traditional business model it is also now its principal disrupter. Old models simply find it hard to compete with the high speed of change and the disruption of technology driven growth. Disruptions in technology have resulted in connectivity that makes the cost of entry for new businesses considerably lower. The competition is not confined to any specific market or geographic boundary. It has changed competitive advantage by reducing the cost of entry, increasing the speed of access to customers and suppliers, and changing the scope of the market from local to global. This has produced the spread of entrepreneurial start-ups driven by new innovations, new products, new strategies, and new ways of doing business.

Technology has created an environment that does not need significant investment for product development and promotes supports an eruption of start-ups. These new entreprenuers are problem solvers that are cutting edge creators with low barriers to entry. They have the luxury of learning while they are leaping. They can make mistakes, correct them and keep right on going. The new way to manage is lean, flexible, and open to change. Start-ups are creating a shared economy with jobs and flexibility for everybody by creating an environment of innovation and competition in the market that has few geographic boundarys. Disruptions in technology in business help new players gain an advantage on a leveller playing field.

Technologies Embedded Invisibility

The skill sets required to earn a living have completely changed. The amount of learning needed to stay relevant, enable performance, and keep a job is continuously changing. The disruptive nature of technology, whether embraced or rejected will continue to have its impact. In today’s world, we see technology connecting us to everything almost invisibly. Mountains of data are collected and connected in the Internet of Things that are analyzed and scrutinized. Individual data tends to be lost in favor of trends that affect how we market goods and services along with how we do just about everything. Characterised by a fusion that blurs the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres technologies have become invisible within our day to day existance. From the place we live, to the food we eat, the clothes we wear, how we work, play, or interact it is difficult to identify where we are not touched by disruptive technology. It can empower and promote individual, social, economic, and political climates that are inclusive and favourable. Technology can be the disruptive destroyer of worlds or can assist in the creation of new models built on disruptive power that create substantial positive impact.

Achilles and the Tortoise Mark Tansey (1986)

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