Digital Disruption? Just Getting Started, And Going Horizontal

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?

5 comments about "Digital Disruption? Just Getting Started, And Going Horizontal".
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  1. Mike Azzara from Content Marketing Partners, May 14, 2015 at 6:28 p.m.

    that's an interview I'd like to listen in on. Will it be webcast? 

  2. Glenn Jewett from Services1223, May 14, 2015 at 6:51 p.m.

    Dave, my reposting to the g+ community was prefaced with the words "thought provoking". Which is the point I believe. Having watched the digital landscape since I began programming in 1967, I can't think of a word to add. You've done a fabulous job of condensing a generation or two of advances into a concise and very readable statement. 

  3. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, May 14, 2015 at 8:33 p.m.

    There is going to be a lot of head banging and people getting into each other's way.

  4. Todd Kabes from San Antonio Weddings, May 19, 2015 at 10:03 a.m.

    Dave,  Please explain how digital disruption leads to affordable energy, education and healthcare.   A little bit of a reach there, don't you think.  My healthcare and energy bills have been rising faster then my internet speed.  And I seriously doubt that digital disruption is going to give me a lower healthcare insurance premium.  And in regards to education. Have you heard that 70% of high school students prefer traditional paper text books over digital.  As fast as school boards were purchasing tablets and laptops, they are not rethinking the entire digital onslaught of the classroom.  Unless of coure we want to continue to dumb down the next generation. 

  5. Dave Morgan from Simulmedia, May 19, 2015 at 1:01 p.m.

    Mike, the interview with John Battelle should be available soon. I will post the link in the comments here as soon as it's up.

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