Gartner: 7 Digital Disruptions That May Surprise You

Aug 15, 2017
6 Min Read
Gartner: 7 Digital Disruptions That May Surprise You

Gartner: 7 Digital Disruptions That May Surprise You


Analyst firm Gartner advises on the best way to predict and evaluate the next big disruptions.

I recently had the opportunity to attend a webinar on business disruption hosted by Gartner VP and Fellow Daryl Plummer. Plummer shared how to understand disruptive influences and focused on the disruptions to which we aren’t yet paying attention.

According to Plummer, disruption used to come out of nowhere (i.e. the Internet), and it was isolated in pockets. In 2017, however, it’s everywhere, having massive impacts across a large area. We can’t avoid it even if we wanted to.

While it’s normal to have some disruption fatigue (otherwise known as getting mentally exhausted every time you hear the word digital), mastery of digital disruption is a critical discipline for modern success.

The most celebrated organizations in this decade (Amazon, Google, etc.) have done so well because they’ve created new lanes to run in. They have embraced willful disruption, which Plummer defined as deliberate and aggressive use of disruption as a differentiator for digital success. They understand that every disruption will inevitably be disrupted by something else, so they can’t rest on their laurels. Willful disruption has five types:

  • Offensive: Innovation, or creating something no one else has thought of (Apple and the smartphone).
  • Defensive: Competition, or recognizing that something major is happening and that we need to do something about it (Google’s involvement with Android in response to the iPhone).
  • Serendipity: Chance, let’s get 1,000 flowers to bloom and see what develops (Twitter and its hashtag changing the face of news delivery).
  • Destruction: Anarchistic, or destroying and replacing a market (Netflix vs. the DVD market).
  • Self-Disruption: Reinvention and agility, coming up with something better than what you’ve already invented yourself (Apple’s transition from the iPod to the iPhone).

The Magic Seven

As he promised in the webinar promo, Plummer delivered his predictions for the seven disruptions the business world has scarcely considered to date. The highlights include:

  • Quantum Computing: Three-hundred fully entangled qubits can manipulate as many classical bits of information as there are atoms in the universe. Qubits can set themselves to both 0 and 1 at the same time, making it easier to solve problems and complete tasks much faster. Quantum computing will make it possible to efficiently design new drugs and predict social movements.
  • AI-driven “Counterfeit Reality” Detectors: “Counterfeit Reality” is the digital creation of images, video, documents, or sounds that are convincingly realistic representations of things that never occurred or never existed exactly as represented. AI will be essential in discerning what’s fake and what’s real because content is being produced so quickly and humans won’t have the bandwidth to accurately assess it all.
  • AI-driven “Counterfeit Reality” Creators: AI will also be able to produce film of movie actors who are dead, and news stories that aren’t legitimate. As people come to expect the use of virtual technology instead of real-time human interaction, the psychological outrage expected with counterfeit reality will be diminished.
  • Synthetic Life: We can mimic not only the function but also the movement of insects and pets. These “beings” will be autonomous and can be deployed either to do good for or wreak havoc on a physical environment.
  • Quantum Levitation: Quantum levitation is a process in which scientists use the properties of quantum physics  to levitate an object (superconductor) over a magnetic source (quantum levitation track). New developments in this domain will facilitate high speed container movement, ocean highways, and complex control of precision machinery.
  • Software Distribution Revolution: App stores and marketplaces are changing the way we sell, distribute, buy, and use software. Channels are extended, products have greater visibility, procurement is simplified, and updates are dynamic and in real-time.
  • Visual Recognition and Precognition: AI can already identify patterns and types of content by viewing digitized images. The free “Tap, Tap, See” app is a current incarnation. Eventually, AI will also be able to recognize human emotion, and examine streams of video to predict what’s going to happen next.


Is your organization experimenting with any of these disruptive technologies?

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