Disruption, Destruction, Digital – Our Way of Future Life?

disrupt gaping voidI wanted to depart from just focusing on extolling innovation within this post – a sort of sound off, of sorts.

It seems in all I keep reading that we are being extorted to disrupt our enterprises before someone else does.

The constant threat of both those known to us and those unknown competitors who can simply raise money based on a disruptive concept, provide a different business model and then attack tomorrow. It is not a comfortable feeling is it?

We are told It is in our ‘complacency’ that we are losing our competitive advantages, even face extinction from these that attack and tear down, replacing it with something different and supposedly better. Did we really need it?

Can we learn to adapt as fast as all that is seemingly coming towards us?

There is so much disruptive power being harnessed that we are all facing an exponentially more complex and challenging environment. Why is there seemingly this determination to tear down many parts of the fabric of our society by challenging institutions, businesses and government structures?

Are many of these organizations so bad – inefficient granted, complacent most likely, and complicit in holding onto what they have achieved, most definitely. So arguably many can be rightfully challenged but what will be the eventual price for this disruption that is occurring all around us?

Unhealthy shifts in the chase for economic growth

The shift has placed the emphasis on the role of destruction rather than creation in driving different economic activity in present times. Will that change? This is getting uncomfortable, is this good for you or me, perhaps not?

This is becoming the game for a few to make money, I mean big serious money and are these not so worried over the wealth creation aspects of creating jobs, building communities, cherishing certain values or just recognizing those communities built up over many years can just shut down and life moves on?

Whole communities are being disrupted, left derelict, with hope changing to hopelessness; we are seeing a lot of social destruction, wrought by much of this current chase for change that is blowing through our global businesses.

The balance seems out of whack but from whose perspective? The incumbent or the usurper? what about the employee or the society that built up whole communities, reliant on that firm for its very existence. What are we destroying in the name of progress?

Looking for the trillion-dollar disruption or seeing whole industries being wiped out

So we will be seeing not just the young start-up rapidly scaling and replacing larger incumbents but new trillion-dollar businesses emerging, wiping out other trillion-dollar businesses, this is a foretaste of the disruption to come even more than we are already witnessing.

Presently we are having to deal as much with fear and anxiety as we are scratching our heads and absorbing this pace of change, all driven through technology and the flow of money into it

Big Data and harnessing technology seems to be threatening everyone in its path

The ramping up of rhetoric around Big Data certainly is fueling this angst of fear and anxiety but is pointing us towards the changing landscape we are traveling towards. Clearly the emergence of Big Data is a phenomenon we can’t ignore. But will it disrupt as much as being talked about, or just simply allow the incumbents in the market place to respond and adjust their businesses to accommodate this? Time has an impact that is immediate, but also it has an influence on our futures.

A McKinsey study finds French companies that have undergone thorough digital transformations may unlock revenue gains of up to 40 percent, while companies that do not quickly become digitally integrated could lose up to 20 percent of revenue to competitors, now that is significant by any account.

Harnessing technology, adapting business models, exploiting data, scaling fast all become vital to adaptive infrastructures, even I’m told building stacked ecosystems, all modular, layered, highly granular and extendable as you go, are the requirements within this disruptive world to thrive.

Increased rhetoric is not helping me at present, it is making me uncomfortable

One of the big consulting firms writes “winning big by thinking big” and is suggesting larger companies will turn out to be among the biggest beneficiaries of initial big data implementations. Why? In their words, “although big data projects still pose challenges, larger companies appear to bring more to the table.” I’m not sold on this. I feel the usurper has the edge over the incumbent. New models are like new species, they are faster at adapting to the changing landscape

Maybe we all have to be on edge, it makes us sit up and focus as others go jumping over the cliff screaming “disruptive whoopee” for our lemming moments. Are we all jostling for the leap, caught up in the moment, feeling great about the launch into the unknown?


Disruption and change is all about market transitions

I was listening to one of the World Economic Forum’s debates around “digital in context,” it confirmed much. The discussion led off with “watch for market transitions”, “don’t be slow to adopt” and “if you don’t reinvent, you will fail.

The underlying message was that data has a real currency to all our organizations. They were suggesting 40% of our current enterprises will be gone in 10 years and with the digital revolution there will be a completely different landscape of winners and losers. There will be no hiding place with connected technology.

So we will increasingly see technology killing off jobs, causing dis-location, forcing many into life-changing choices. We are seeing increasing conflicting and fragmenting positions that are causing growing uncertainty. The “cost to serve” is continuing to be driven down, and data is driving this. Add dislocation and deconstruction to disruption, destruction and digital.

We all need to keep moving

We are all being warned to “keep moving”. I often feel we have become like our forefathers, a nomadic tribe that is both physically being forced to move, to hunt the jobs that allow us to live and to keep applying knowledge found through the internet to survive and thrive.

So it does seem we are in the “disruptive era” but I prefer to think this is more a ‘transformation’ period, often uncomfortable since much of its boundaries and borders are not clear. It is fluid and we need to adapt to this flow until the disruptive events subside into something we have learnt to accommodate and manage. It is transforming much of what we know, our technology and all that comes with it.

Yet, we need to equip ourselves to be empowered in this transition, we need to keep constantly engaged and attempt to figure out what’s next or at least go with the flow. We need to keep our focus on outcomes and not get caught up in the inputs or the process.

The return of the hunter gatherers.

Hunting and gathering has suddenly returned as an increasingly important part of our lives, it is changing us back. Nomadic hunter-gatherer tribes follow the animals they hunt; we need to follow the jobs and opportunities. We are perhaps facing the same constant transition, so it is not a disease but a symptom of what is needed in our future lives, at least for the foreseeable future.

We need to embrace transition as the future way of living

My need, and I think yours as well, is to stay alert and be aware. In many of our jobs there must be this chance to evolve, or we should move on. I don’t feel we can stand still long enough; we need to chance it far more by taking a number of different risks. Keep moving is part of our futures.

I believe we do become far more empowered in any transition if we chose to actually make the change, instead of rejecting it on the premise that there is no need for movement. There is no hiding place it seems.

I just feel far better ‘in transition’ it is that feeling that I am still pushing forward, what I do is in my hands than the alternative, when that moment that I have stopped I am being threatened with disruption and destruction. Both are a little scary and will get exhausting. Extinction is very threatening, oh just screw it,bring it on… whoopee”.

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3 thoughts on “Disruption, Destruction, Digital – Our Way of Future Life?

  1. Hi Paul – you’ve raised a number of really important issues. There is absolutely a downside to disruption that is often swept under the carpet. In the case of taxi medallions and Uber, for example, many taxi drivers are hurt who have nothing to do with the origin or perpetuation of corruption in that licensing system. So while the system is terrible, and needs to go, I do think we need to give more thought to the people that lose their jobs or are otherwise displaced as a consequence of innovation.

    This problem will become even more acute as we see more and more jobs automated.

    Right now I don’t have any good answers about any of this, but I agree on the importance of the issues.


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