Futurists, venture capitalists, and people like me all want to know where the next huge revolution will appear – that is, the next event which will facilitate a change in how we live, and usher in new methods, industries, even fields of study. Most refer to this as disruptive technology, because it shakes up and replaces the status quo. Examples of this include the birth of the personal computer (shown in the Apple 1 above), the Internet, the printed book, irrigation, fire – go back as far as you like.
But where will it appear next? Whose garage is it being developed? This is a crucial question for businesses, investors, even governments – the answer is simple:
Any industry controlled by a few is a target for disruptive change.
This may seem obvious, but the application of this idea is not. Think of all the industries in which a select few people (or organizations) were in control of it. Those industries were generally very expensive (or impossible) to compete in without the blessing of the establishment. Pricing was set by that small group, and without an alternative, people just HAD to deal with it and pay up. Remember paying 25 cents / minute for long distance phone calls?
The only way that these oligarchies were toppled was to introduce disruptive technology that allowed the common man to easily access an alternative to that product or service. This allowed the Next Big Thing to bypass the establishment easily and quickly to bring about change. Cell phones replaced phone booths, computers replaced typewriters, electricity replaced whale oil for lighting – the list goes on.
So what’s next? The trick is not necessarily knowing where to look, but how to look. Think of every activity today that is controlled by a small group, or is very expensive – then keep an open mind that it could be different, and eventually somebody will figure out a way to make that happen. THAT is where the Next Revolution will happen.
Want some examples of disruptive technology that has appeared or will appear?
- Personal space travel (has already been privatized, but it’s very pricey still)
- Medicine (imagine a home machine which synthesizes medicine for you based on your own DNA, or visiting your doctor via webcam)
- Energy production (generating electricity at home cheaper than utilities)
- Fresh water reclamation (Solar condensers, or at-home rainwater processing)
- Crowdsourced travel (chipping in on private transport instead of using airlines)
- Do-It-Yourself Homes (well-built, cheap housing that you assemble like legos)
- Private TV stations (taking YouTube to the next level – TV made for YOU)