I spend a decent amount of time thinking about and explaining where existing businesses can fail due to emerging technologies. Often these fissures appear in areas which aren’t visible to the incumbent and once they become cracks and thus visible it is too late. Take the convenience of the cell phone which disrupted taxis, hotels and so many other industries.
Where this becomes interesting to me is when you look into the business to business world — as all of the sexiness in building a company often lies in the consumer world, most of the money is made in the business realm.
We see established (incumbent) businesses get disrupted at an ever increasing pace — often by newcomers to the industry which have anticipated a seismic shift in the space triggered by a new and emerging technology.
Here’s an example: You might have seen that Google’s voice recognition recently surpassed the 95% word-recognition threshold. Which is the line where a machine is about as good as a human in understanding you. Imagine what this will do to all kinds of interfaces? What was dominated by buttons might soon be a slick voice interface. Or think about call centers. Where an incumbent has to employ thousands of teleworkers, a startup can just run a server cluster.
Immerse yourself deep in emerging technologies. Learn everything you can about a particular industry and then find the chinks in their armor.