In the evolution of technology, there are always a few changes that would tend to disrupt the technology that came before. As a result, a new world is born and the way people look at technology and their possibilities dramatically change. The internet is the classic example of disruptive technology. Imagine how communications and publishing took place before the internet and look at how those activities are being done now. Thanks to the internet, publishing something and making sure it reaches your target audience has become much more efficient and cheaper.
Back in the bad old days, if you wanted to publish a magazine for example, you have to go to a printer and they have to change the type; they have to print physical magazines and ship them out. You’re out of luck if there’s an error or a typo in the stuff that got shipped out because you can’t recall those magazines and reprint them on the same paper. You have to buy a new paper, print them then ship them back out. Well, with the internet, you just need to go into your content management system (CMS) like WordPress and type over the error. Voila! Your online publication is now fixed and your consumers are none the wiser. That’s how disruptive the internet was.
Another example of disruptive technology are Smartphones. It has blown away how we deal with technology in our daily waking lives. It used to be that I had to run to my laptop or desktop computer at home to look up a restaurant. Now, if I’m just walking down the street and thinking of lunch, I can do some searches on some blogs that talk about possible meal suggestions and I can do a quick search for the closest restaurants that feature those dishes. If you thought that the major disruptions are over, you’re in for a surprise. The truth is, Smartphones are just the beginning. Smartphones opened the door to this greater concept called “cloud computing”. We have written earlier about whether cloud computing is hype but there are a lot of companies that get a lot of funding based on the concept of cloud computing.
The downside to cloud computing is that it’s easy to define broadly that it can lose all meaning. Regardless, it’s still quite exciting and the three disruptive technologies that flow out of cloud computing are mobile services, cloud-based infrastructure and software-as-a-service. This is why there’s a lot of excitement for companies like Zendesk, Box and Nebula. These are the companies that were featured in a recent talk by TechCrunch disrupt. As you can well imagine, there’s a lot of hype regarding the disruptive nature of these particular companies’ technologies. One thing is clear: the underlying technology trend powering these companies which are cloud-based computing is truly disruptive. Zendesk provides customer care assistance using a distributed cloud infrastructure. Box provides online storage using a distributed structure that isn’t tied to any piece of hardware. Nebula provides private cloud services. It’s still an open question on whether these will all pan out but it is quite an exciting situation. These companies are definitely worth keeping an eye on.