For example, in 2004 who could have guessed that a software program invented by a geeky undergraduate in a Harvard University dorm room designed to make it easier to meet girls would have such a profound effect on the way people communicate with each other in the 21st Century? Yet Facebook has done exactly that.
Or flash back to 2007, when Apple co-founder Steve Jobs introduced a new gadget that he promised would alter the way people not only used the telephone, but accessed the Internet, shopped for the products and services they wanted, and were entertained. He was right: Today the iPhone and its imitators are used all day every day by billions of people worldwide.
Facebook, the iPhone and other game-changing developments are what are known as disruptors. They change the rules, alter behavior, and shake the very foundations of the marketplace. Once these genies are let out of their respective bottles, it’s practically impossible to imagine a world without them.
Knowing how to spot disruptors before they come onto the scene is a skill that needs to be developed. Some of these advancements occur organically and unexpectedly, as was the case of Facebook. I doubt that even Mark Zuckerberg knew what he had when he developed the social media platform’s prototype between classes at Harvard.
Others are developed in secret, under tight security. That’s how the iPhone was able to take the world – and especially techies – by surprise (and capture such an enormous market share of the mobile industry). Nobody saw it coming.
4 Potential Disruptors
While nobody knows for sure which new technology or software is going to turn the world upside down, it’s possible to take an educated guess. Here are four potential disruptors to watch in the coming year and beyond:
Wearable Technology – People laughed when Google Glass was first introduced in 2012 as a prototype. But in the ensuing years, wearable technology has become cutting edge. Apple has responded with its iWatch, and is rumored to be developing even further tech devices that can be worn while used. And businesses and industries are now adjusting to their workers wearing their web access devices while on the job in the same way they were forced to deal with employees bringing their cell phones to work in the late 1990s.
Driverless Vehicles – The technology for driverless cars and other vehicles has existed for many years. Using GPS, radar, laser-guided cameras and other devices, cars, trucks, taxis and even forklifts can now move more safely and efficiently that those driven by humans. But the automobile industry and others are justifiably concerned about consumer pushback to such technologies. That’s why they are slowly introducing the concept to the public through such things as cars that can parallel park themselves, cars with 360-degree cameras, auto-braking and collision deterrent devices.
Digital Money – Right now, there is a battle going on for control of your virtual wallet. Some companies like PayPal and Google Wallet are winning while others, like BitCoin, are failing. But eventually, safe, hassle-free digital commerce will replace the inconvenience of carrying cash and payments from your smart phone or other device will be universally accepted.
Streaming Media Content – Consumers have spoken. They prefer the convenience of watching the movies and programming they prefer via streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon to being tied to network or cable TV schedules. The industry observers who have been predicting the fall of the networks for years are now adding cable and satellite providers to the list of potential victims.