How to Predict next Disruptive Technology

On a very lazy Saturday I was pondering about what eventually could be the next great disruptor within technology, that I could lash onto and be among the first movers. But how would anyone be able to predict that? One of natures hard questions – I guess. I quickly dismissed the idea of dreaming something up myself in hope that whatever irrelevant thought I came up with, would end up taking over the world, and commenced a small research project looking at recent disruptive innovations within the technology space to see if I could spot a trend.

As a starting point I listed the technologies or shifts that have had most profound impact on our lives and also caused disruption in existing business. The first game changer was the rise of the personal computer – 1970ish –  exactly when depends on the definition of PC, carving the road for affordable computers. The second one was the internet on which web browsers (1990) was based, personally the biggest game changer here was the web browser and the ability to move from client/server to hosted solutions. Third was the iPhone (2007) which revolutionized mobile phones. The fourth one is cloud computing, hard to determine exactly when cloud computing started getting real traction, but a suggestion would be 2006 where Amazon launched Amazon Web Services.

Listing the above 4 disruptive technologies wasn’t hard. But how would anyone determine whether or not any of these in fact would take off, and become real disruptive technologies and major game changers? Well, after doing some research on the internet using my web browser I found a number of quotes relating to each of the above.

Personal Computer

  • “But what…is it good for?” — Engineer at the Advanced Computing Systems Division of IBM, 1968, commenting on the microchip. Included this one as the microchip and Personal Computer goes hand in hand.
  • In 1977, Ken Olsen, CEO of DEC, said, “There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home”.

Internet/Web Browsers

  • In 1995, Robert Metcalfe, founder of 3Com, inventor of Ethernet, said, “I predict the Internet will soon go spectacularly supernova and in 1996 catastrophically collapse”
  • In 1993, Bill Gates, CEO of Microsoft, said, “The Internet? We’re not interested in it.”
  • Newsweek wrote in 1995, “The Internet is just a fad.”


  • In 2007, Steve Balmer, CEO of Microsoft, said, “”There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance.”
  • In 2007, David Platt, Author, said, “The iPhone is going to be a bigger marketing flop than Ishtar and Waterworld.”
  • In 2007, Seth Porgess, TechCrunch columnist, said, “We predict the iPhone will bomb.”
  • In 2007, Al Ries, Marketing Consultant, wrote an article, “Why the iPhone will fail.”
  • In 2007, Brett Arends, Financial Writer, said, “The iPhone isn’t the future.”
  • In 2007, Todd Sullivan, Investment Advisor, said, “The iPhone: Apple’s first flop.”
  • In 2007, Mitchell Ashley, IT executive, said, “The iPhone is certain to fade into history.”
  • In 2007, John Dvorak, MarketWatch columnist, said, “Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone.”

Cloud Computing

There’s tons of related information all, in more or less degree, dismissing the above mentioned truly disruptive technologies. The question, though, how to predict what’s the next great thing still persists and how can the above help? Well, it seems that the likelihood a new trend, technology or shift taking hold and developing into a disruptive innovation is proportional with the amount of bashing from technology pundits, and companies that risk their business models to be disrupted by emerging innovations.

Relating that to my current area, ERP, then there’s been a couple of disruptive shifts towards cloud based solutions and lighter clients – responsive web design. The new comers primarily focus on providing cloud based solutions other on-premise installations. However, by taking into the considerations the recent development in BYOD and increase of youngsters only using mobile devices, in some cases not even owning a PC, it’s very probable that the next disruption of the ERP space, that can threaten the incumbents, is a combination of a cloud based solution and mobile clients.

#erp #cloudcomputing #mobile #disruptive #predictions