Since the dawn of civilization, technological advances have transformed society in unimaginable ways. Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter was one of the first scholars to discuss the role of disruptive technology in depth. In the 1940s, he coined the term “creative disruption”, which refers to the jarring changes technology has on industries and consumer lifestyles.
During the industrial revolution, creative disruption took place on a scale never seen before in human history. New technology allowed manufacturers to boost production and create new products people could never have dreamed of a couple decades earlier. While these changes were welcomed by consumers, they were a bane to many professionals that soon found themselves out of work. Talented artisans were quickly replaced by assembly lines of people with fewer skills.
In the late 1990s, a second industrial revolution gripped our world. Computer technology created new jobs, while making others obsolete. Computers also changed the nature of existing jobs, because many tasks were replaced by computers. They have also permanently changed the way people interact with each other. Here are 3 industries that have been disrupted by digital technology.
The financial industry has been heavily disrupted by new technology. According to a report from PwC, massive changes are expected through 2020 and beyond. PwC find that the driving forces of disruptive technology have accelerated since the end of the global financial crisis.
The post-crisis regulatory frameworks have been gradually settling into place, and financial institutions have been adjusting their business models accordingly. It is now becoming obvious that the accelerating pace of technological change is the most creative force—and also, the most destructive one—in the financial services ecosystem today.
Bank of America and Charles Schwab have been around for centuries. Digital technology has been a double edged sword for brick-and-mortar banks. They use computers to offer timelier service, reduce staffing needs, and improve actuarial processes. On the other hand, digital technology has created new competitors that have taken on the world’s largest banks. Disruptors like Paypal and Stripe earning market share of the payment processing industry.
Startups like Betterment are rapidly gaining market share from millennials that shun traditional financial institutions in their quest to find more affordable service and streamline their approach to investing. Betterment currently manages over $5 billion, so clearly disrupting traditional wealth management powerhouses.
The healthcare industry is growing at unprecedented pace. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, healthcare jobs are expected to grow at an annualized rate of 26% by 2022. Growth in the healthcare industry is largely attributed to digital technology. Many disruptive companies offer more direct and automated solutions to help customers reach their healthcare goals. Consumers no longer need to rely on physical trainers or fitness coaches, because they receive similar benefits from wearable devices like Fitbit, which track everything from sleep patterns to daily movements. They also use apps like MyFitnessPal’s Calorie Counter and Diet Tracker to monitor calorie intakes.
Even pets have benefited from healthcare technology TopDogDinners and other pet food companies have developed custom dog food that is tailored a dog’s individual nutritional needs.
Pet owners can provide relevant information such as their dog’s breed, weight, age, activity to get customized nutritional advice for their dog. Using simple, natural ingredients and complex computer science, TopDogDinners proves that the trend of technology, as a means to improve health, is only just getting started.
The travel agent is a thing of the past. Companies like Expedia aggregate data on thousands of flights and hotels from around the web to give the consumer the best deal for the next trip. Even disruptive travel companies like Expedia are being disrupted by new adapter like Airbnb. Instead of booking a stay at an expensive hotel, you can work directly with the owner to reserve an entire house or apartment.
Companies like Uber are disrupting the taxi industry. Consumers can get cheaper, higher quality service with their smartphone apps.
Consumers have always reaped the rewards of disruptive technology, techniques, and companies who promise to bring products and services faster, cheaper, and with greater efficiency. We should forget that there’s another side to this coin and that is: the worker. As one industry become obsolete so does someone’s job; but with one job lost another is gained. The artisan who got replaced during the industrial revolution would still be needed to make the cast iron mold that shape the future.
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