Why Disruption, Change & Acceleration Will Catch Most Companies Off Guard

Why Disruption, Change & Acceleration Will Catch Most Companies Off Guard

In this guest post, www.which-50.com editor Andrew Birmingham and AwesomTech PR director David Binning argue most Aussie businesses aren’t nearly prepared for the rate of massive disruption heading our way…

Few companies, let alone most people, are aware of the profound changes about to sweep through every aspect of our lives. Disruption will be ubiquitous, from how we work and play, make and maintain relationships, how we think and even how we feel.

That’s the view from serial entrepreneur and [unofficial] digital historian, Michael Priddis who told Which-50 he feels awe and fear in equal measure as he contemplates what the current phase of ‘exponential technology’ will mean for human kind.

Priddis, who will be speaking at the SE-Corp’s Digital Strategy Summit 2016 next week cautions“In future things are going to happen very quickly,” he warns.

By the future, he means, say 2030; a mere millisecond for the once aspiring geology graduate, and which, as he’s keen to point out is only as far into the future as 2002 is in the past.

An even more sobering thought, he argues, is the fact that in 2002 the Chinese economy closely resembled those of Pakistan, Nigeria and Bangladesh today.

“We know how many companies really had a plan for China,” Priddis says. “But how many Australian companies do you think have a plan for Bangladesh?”

He cites virtual reality, augmented reality, robotics, quantum computing, nanotech and machine learning as examples of new technologies that have suddenly evolved from imaginative prototype to powerful force for disruption in barely 24 months.

Priddis has spent much of the past 20 years buying, building and divesting companies in the innovation space spanning telecommunications, financial services and health. He is also one of the few people in the world who can claim to having established a bank in India and helped develop an app to tackle diabetes.

He notes many business leaders are still at a loss about how to deal with the growth of disruptive technologies and processes.

“I have CEOs say to me that they want to develop products and solutions that are ‘truly’ disruptive.” “But then we get half through and they retreat, saying ‘oh not that disruptive’.”

Often it’s because companies having a strong cultural attachment to legacy systems and ideas, not to mention hefty capital investment. And there can never be real change or innovation with this mindset.

“Still, some [businessmen] wonder how their entire business model came to be ‘disrupted’ by five guys in a garage with a great algorithm,” Priddis says. “I think too often you see big companies trying to build tomorrow’s businesses using today’s IP.”

And yet, on the other hand, there is a pervasive anxiety about the impact of things like automation and robotics; fears often fueled by the mainstream media writing headlines about vast numbers of people losing their jobs from disruption to business models, or a general erosion of humanity and personal connections.

Previously the managing director of successful digital consultancy BCG, Priddis is branching out with new firm named Faethm, after the Celtic word for ‘fathom’, one of the original meanings of which is the length of two outstretched arms also connoting friendship and acceptance. It is in this spirit Priddis feels innovation should be approached.

“Too often we seen in the media scary images and stories about robots taking over the planet,” he notes, when the real discussion needs to be about what these disruptive technologies mean for our selves, our social structure, relationships, ethics, justice and the law.

‘AI is a social revolution, not a technological invasion.”

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