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Disruptive Technology: Chaos or Benevolence?

Posted by Steven Kelley on Jan 18, 2019 12:55:52 PM
Steven Kelley
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We hear it, we see it, we know it… digital transformation is here and it is fundamentally changing everything. Regardless of area – manufacturing, recreation, jobs, healthcare, etc., the disruptive footprint of digital transformation is pervasive; no part of life –or lifestyle, will go unaffected.Although all will be affected, not all will be affected equally. Look at the impact the Internet had on the music, newspaper, movie and advertising industries. For many, denial and skepticism created inertia in accepting the evolution of their industries.Clinging to old business models, many companies opted out as participants; instead choosing the role of spectator. In the wake of their vacillation, change marched on and their businesses vaporized.

The speed of change is exponential. Here is an eye-opener: The amount of technological advancement that occurred in the year 2000, happened every 66 minutes in 2013, and by 2020, will occur every 30 seconds (http://www.theemergingfuture.com/disruptive-technology.htm). According to Gartner, the main drivers will be blockchain, quantum computing, AI and automated analytics. Next-gen has become now-gen; hesitation to embrace the changes of digital transformation is a costly error your customers cannot afford to make. As their trusted advisor, it is also one you cannot let them make.

Shift Happens

Change implies just that… change. It could be a rearrangement of the existing or a wholesale replacement of the status quo. Either way, like it or not, shift happens. Recently, during Tech Data’s Partner Summit 2018, “Transformation Awaits,” futurist, Mike Walsh discussed how 21st-century technologies like AI is forcing workers to ‘pivot’ in their roles, moving human decision-making upwards to “higher levels of abstraction.” According to Walsh, anything that can be automated will be; with the biggest gains coming not from automation, but from time saved through automation and the “shift of human potential to more complex tasks.” In other words, change drives progress; but for whom? In terms of ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ does the disruptive footprint of digital transformation hurt more than it helps?

Are the Implications of Disruption Optimally Distributed?

Borrowing from economic theory and applying the concept of Pareto Optimality[1] as a measure of change efficiency, we can evaluate the disruptive implications of digital transformation within the context of Walsh’s role elevation to “higher levels of abstraction.” Doing so supports the conclusion that digital transformation will result in an overall state of improvement in both the personal satisfaction of work performed, and the societal value of that work. This redistributive shift, validated as an improvement in the reallocation of resources under Pareto, results in an overall favorable outcome to society; thus fulfilling the premise that disruptive technology is in fact, disruptive benevolence.

Nowhere are the implications of change more profound than in the field of healthcare. Disruptive technology that advances the health and welfare of others can be considered the most benevolent forms of disruption. Surprisingly however, it appears that many within the medical community are resisting the rapid transition from traditional medicine; failing to engage the technologies that promote personalized, genomic and regenerative medicine. Outside industries are stepping up for the benefit of society and -through new technologies- introducing immediate, inexpensive systems and open source, HIPPA-free healthcare (The Emerging Future). Once again, progress marches forward, full speed ahead.

Disruption for the Greater Good

Nominally, disruptive technology falls short in clearly articulating its benevolent nature. Although incrementally destructive to the status quo - scuttling entire industries and challenging conventional wisdom; disruptive technologies, in the aggregate, elevate the welfare of humanity. We all know change is constant. What we don’t know is what it will be, the speed with which will occur and the scope of its impact. Unless directly involved, most of us are on the periphery of change; swept up involuntarily, with limited foresight from managing life and the daily operations of business. Having more than a vague understanding of what next-generation technology is - and the tsunami of change it represents - is necessary because being a spectator is not an option.

As market leaders who understand technology, have the resources of technology and the foresight to provide comprehensive solutions using technology, Tech Data has the means and the mission to help. Our partner base is broad, well-informed and well-equipped to help you navigate the disruptive persona of digital transformation. We not only can help, as your trusted advisor, we will help. To learn more about next-generation technologies driving digital transformation and its implications on your business, contact Tech Data. Our solution consultants can answer your questions and connect you with the right resources to ensure your role as participant, not spectator. Visit us online at www.techdata.com.

For some additional insights on the societal and business implications of digital disruption, check out an earlier blog post of mine, Hi Tech Gaitkeeping: Identifying Who You are by the Way You Walk,  and how advancements in 5G, data analytics, cloud and IoT are creating a brave new –safer– world.

About the Author

Steven Kelley is a senior marketing specialist for Tech Data in Tempe, Arizona. In his role, Steve manages the corporate blog, Authority, along with the company’s partner newsletter, The Power of Partnership. Prior to joining Tech Data, Steve managed the marketing, communication and PR duties for a range of businesses in the aviation, defense, energy, hi-tech, and healthcare industries.

 [1] Pareto optimality is an economic concept in which economic equilibrium is reached as a result of efficient resource allocation. Pareto optimality exists when a change cannot be implemented to make someone better off without changing someone else's position for the worse. Similarly, Pareto Improvement occurs when the gainer gains more than the loser loses, and can (theoretically) compensate the loser an amount whereby he (the gainer) still gains and the loser is fully compensated for his losses.

Tags: Digital Transformation, Next-Generation Technology, Disruptive Technologies, Mike Walsh, Pareto Optimality