Disruption is the trend worth watching

We are in a time of accelerated disruption. New technology in particular is found almost everywhere changing the way business, government, and communities function. I feel like I am stating the blatantly obvious, yet there are still so many people who do not understand this revolution.

There are so many great examples of how this is happening, and this blog is simply one small example. I am neither an elected official, published media or mega-institution, but yet I get my message to you. This is an example of how a simple blog can disrupt the way we consume information. With things like Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and Citizen Journalism, we are not only changing business models, but how communities form, how activism spreads, and how we look at old geographic/political boundaries.

In business we see technology obliterating old models. An example is that you can get for free advanced software applications that previously you had to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for before. There are endless examples of how new and nimble developments are making other industries virtually extinct. Goodbye photo paper, telephone land-line, and the 6 o’clock news and hello digital, wireless and real-time rapid information transfer.

In politics we are seeing new communication and social media tools forcing political debate into the hands of the people and away from the old-school control freaks who are left wondering how to adapt. To me there is no better example of the way citizens can change the actions of government than the rapid creation of passionate communities around an issue. Albertan’s who rallied against the Bill 44 legislation were flexing a new kind of muscle, one that can be very disruptive. Argue what you want about the success or failure of that particular movement, but it’s hard to argue that the ruling party completely understood the power of the disruptive nature of social media tools.

A common mistake is to think that you can apply previous strategies to modern environments. Watching these dinosaur organizations try to control their message via press release and sound-bite is downright entertaining. The days of relying on your professionally trained communications expert to try and control the message, and the discussion, are over.

Again, I know this seems to be stating the obvious, but I use this blog to collect my thoughts and distill my own strategy in a modern world. Here are some trends I am going to be watching closely:

  • Free / freemium and shared costs business models. Particularly relating to the old software industries that we used to pay large IP premiums for. In many ways, my company is a disruptive one, rapidly taking business from service providers who did things outside of the efficiencies of an internet enabled business model. But I don’t believe for a second that what we have developed, albeit an inexpensive and more efficient way, won’t eventually be rendered obsolete by even further developments and models that are even more efficient, using even newer technology.
  • New community organizations that form with ease, using social media tools as their enabler. In Edmonton there are many examples lately of new groups of individuals who have gathered into informal, yet highly relevant organizations, without the formalities and hang-ups of older organizations. If you are outside these groups you may not even know they exist, but rest assured the next generation of community leader, influencer, politician and business person know what I am talking about. If you are standing at the Rotary meeting, Elks Hall, Chamber Mixer or even in the Church Lobby wondering what has happened to our next generation, look at places like Emerging Business Leaders, Better Edmonton, Edmonton Next Gen, ENTS, ArtScene, Democamp, Changecamp, etc.
  • Post-partisan political thinkers who resist the existing right vs. left damaging debate. I especially don’t believe that we have lost interest in political issues, but I do think that we have lost interest in having to choose sides of debates that are more complicated than right vs. left. Many Albertans have stopped voting, and this is a sad thing, but I believe that we will start to see activism from the non-partisan community. These people will start movements that use flat, real-time communications advancements in technology to hold our existing governments more accountable. The best way I can try to describe this movement is to imagine an “Un-Party” that is a self-creation of interested Albertans, who use technology to hold our politicians accountable on issues, and when needed rally against an individual or in support of one, not based on their political stripe but based on their actions and record. Technology can create rapid movements of very large voters, and if this can be harnessed, it will have great political influence.┬áIn fact I think that some of the new nimble organizations, and the influencer and leaders of their movements described in my second point, will be the leaders of the “Un-Party” movement. Even if we don’t see the creation of a formal organization like an “Un-Party”, we will see increased activity around specific issues. Bill 44 is one example, the Edmonton Airport debate was another.

I fully intend on expanding on these last two issues on this blog and I look forward to discussing them with you.