Disruptive technologies: Advances that will transform life, business, and the global economy

Distruptive technology

Distruptive technology

Technological progress is not the only force that drives transformative growth in economies; for example, US growth during the 1970s was driven by the entry of millions of women and baby boomers into the labor force. However, technological advances have been an especially valuable source of growth because they tend to be “non-rival” in nature, meaning they can be used over and over, benefiting different users and driving increasing returns. And unlike other sources of growth, such as increases in the labor force, the effects of technology do not go away.
General-purpose technologies are particularly powerful. They are not only non-rival and long lasting, but their pervasiveness also makes them especially disruptive. The Internet is an excellent example. It introduced new ways of communicating and using information that enabled major innovations, imposing new rules from outside on all sorts of industries, rearranging value chains and enabling new forms of competition. In industry after industry, Internet-enabled innovations brought transparency to pricing, disrupted commercial relationships, created new customer expectations, and made old business models obsolete. Napster and iTunes all but eliminated record stores, online booking systems have made travel agents largely redundant, and Amazon has forever changed both bookselling and the book publishing industry as a whole.
General-purpose technologies also tend to shift value to consumers, at least in the long run. This is because new technologies eventually give all players an opportunity to raise productivity, driving increased competition that leads to lower prices. General-purpose technologies can also enable—or spawn—more technologies. For example, steam power enabled the locomotive and railroads, and the printing press accelerated learning and scientific discovery. General-purpose technologies can take many forms—including materials, media, and new sources of energy—but they all share the ability to bring about transformative change

From “Disruptive technologies: Advances that will transform life, business, and the global economy” by   McKinsey Global Institute

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