You think you’ve seen digital disruption? You haven’t seen anything yet. It’s just getting started. What’s been vertical disruption is about to go horizontal in a big way.
Major innovation and investments in computing technology and digital telecommunications brought us the Web and Web services, whose impact on our lives has been nothing short of extraordinary.
Web services technology upended the entire information technology (IT) industry, but also many other industry verticals. We’ve watched digital Web services march, vertical by vertical, through any number of industries like telecommunications (free email, Web calls & Web texting), media, entertainment and advertising (remember yellow pages, newspaper classifieds, CDs and Blockbuster?) and retail (Amazon -- say no more). As big as it’s been, most agree that the revolution is only getting started. It’s no longer about vertical-by-vertical disruption. The future of digital technology disruption will now be all horizontal, as it redefines everything.
This topic is on my mind because tonight I’m interviewing digital pioneer, entrepreneur and writer extraordinaire John Battelle in a discussion on this topic produced by both our companies. What happens when digital disruption takes over everything at the basic infrastructure, operating system and business model levels? The past few years have brought us an explosion of Web services across so many verticals -- many propelled by the growth of smartphone-carrying Web-services apps -- that you can only now look at digital services as a horizontal, no longer constrained by vertical industry definitions.
We have big Web service disruptions in personal transportation (Uber), delivery (GrubHub), payments (Bitcoin) and loans (LendingClub). Every day we read about Newco’s being backed by venture capitalists in everything from Internet-of-things to personalized juicing to optimized contract services. Drone companies are in the news daily, bringing ever-expanding digital, data, image and logistic capabilities. It’s hard to imagine any industry -- any vertical -- that won’t be transformed by digital Web services inevitably for sure -- and, most likely, very soon.
Yes, it’s a bit scary to think about, but also a lot of fun to
ponder all the new opportunities, as well as the long-standing difficult problems that might now be solvable. Massively scalable and affordable energy, education and healthcare now seem truly
possible. Democratized markets. Greater voices for the masses. More power to individuals and entrepreneurs. Less power to institutions and governments. It’s certainly going to be an interesting
future, and it’s possible that it will unfold even faster than we dare to believe.
I’m hopeful. To me, the digital disruption we’ve had so far has brought us so much.
I can’t wait to see what happens when this digital disruption truly goes horizontal. What about you?