Digital Disruption

Since 2000, 52 percent of the companies in the Fortune 500 have either gone bankrupt, been acquired or ceased to exist (Figure 1).  The pace of change has increased, competition has intensified and business models have been disrupted.  The only certainty is that change will accelerate.

From Constellation Research.


The great part is to live through this era - an era bringing as much of a change to modern society as the 'invention' of mainstream electricity access.


Of course, technically, we're also now entering a new-mindset era. The early days of transport vehicles meant an engine could barely have enough power to move 1-2 people. As technology developed, the engines are now to the point where even a standard small family car can carry a fully family, their luggage and tow a caravan. That era is now here with computers: and thus custom-built processors as supplied for specific uses like cell towers, back-end systems, supercomputers are now irrelevant. A modern smartphone now has more power than a supercomputer from the early 90's: so why not build all devices from commodity 'engines'. This is causing huge disruption to the big technology hardware providers (just look at the strange alliance between Cisco and Ericsson, and Cisco in particular making a big play to make a move up the stack and provide unified communication and other services). In short, where once before significant revenue and value could be made on hardware, largely it is all now commodity hardware with different software on top.

In short, Marc Andreeson was right.

This obviously causes huge issues for those companies who don't have strengths in software development (and the idea of continuous iteration/change) but it's something that is coming whether we like it or not. I was at a recent talk by Ryanair and came away with a very impressive impression of what they are doing having transitioned from slow change to now-multiple-changes-per-day. Exciting times.

Neal McQuaid