Disruptive Leadership

"Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare."

7 years, 7 disruptions

Huragok_Shield_DisruptionDisruptive Leadership was launched seven years ago, and while the blog has been on hiatus for the last few years, technology has not.

To celebrate the “reboot” of the site, I have ranked the top seven disruptive innovations that have shaken industries while fundamentally changing the way we live and interact with the world.

  1. iPhone and Mobile Applications – A perfect example of a disruption that is both a technology and a business model, the iPhone and mobile apps have made the smartphone the “swiss army” knife of the digital age.  Industries impacted: Mobile phones, software. Roadkill: Nokia, Blackberry.
  2. The Kindle and e-Books  - Amazon introduced the Kindle e-Book reader a few years before tablets became mainstream, putting 98% of publishers out of business (at least in the UK). Industries impacted: Publishers. Roadkill: Borders, Barnes and Noble.
  3. Android – While the iPhone had first-mover advantage, Google’s free/open-source mobile operating system provided consumers an alternative platform and kept the space vibrant with competition. Industries impacted: PC’s
  4. Netflix video-on-demand – Netflix has been able to perform a very rare “hat trick” by first making video stores obsolete with online DVD rentals, then taking video streaming mainstream, and finally creating a new phrase, “binge-watching” with Emmy-winning original content. Industry impacted: Video rental stores. Roadkill: Blockbuster
  5. iPad and Tablets – By essentially taking the iPhone and tripling its size, Apple has created another mandatory “screen” to have in the home along side TV’s, phones and computers. Industry impacted: PC’s, Consumer Electronics.
  6. Cloud computing - Cloud computing is one of those rare industry “buzz words” that’s stuck and has become synonymous with software and online storage. Industries impacted: Software, storage, business services.
  7. Social mobile – What started out as an alternative to SMS text messaging letting users bypass mobile data plans, social mobile apps became so hot Facebook dropped an eye-dropping $19 billion to buy WhatsAapp. Industries impacted: social media networks, carriers.

What’s next? ”Crowd-services” such as Uber and AirBnB have shaken up their respective industries offering just-in-time alternatives to traditional taxis and hotels. The “Internet of Things” is starting to take off with a plethora of wearable devices,. Finally, 3D printing could dramatically alter the landscape of how anything physical is created.

The oracle of the digital age?

tumblr_n8kdibysf51qaxovpo1_1280I recently saw an online Ted Talk by Nicholas Negroponte in which he recounted technology predictions he had made over the last 30 years. I was first introduced to Negroponte 20 years ago when I read his book “Being Digital” in business school. Like a modern day Nostradamus, some of his predictions have been uncanny. From the pervasiveness of digital books to the advent of touch screens, he predicted how technology would change how we interact with media and devices.

But it was the “Negroponte Switch” that always stuck with me. He famously predicted in a simple graph that devices that were “wired” would become “wireless” (e.g. telephones) and devices that were “wireless” would become “wired” (television). When you think about the pervasiveness of mobile phones and cable TV today (satellite TV notwithstanding),  you have to wonder if Mr. Negroponte isn’t the Oracle of the digital age.

Do public/private global initiatives make a difference?

DANGOThe public and private sectors have introduced a plethora of initiatives aimed at bridging the digital divide and bringing computers to underserved markets.

Intel launched the World Ahead program in 2006, a sweeping initiative to encompass all activities Intel was driving to bridge the digital divide.  Microsoft launched Unlimited Potential in 2007. AMD was ahead of the curve, introducing 50×15 in 2005.

International and regional development agencies have also gotten into the game.  The United Nations introduced the UN Global Alliance for ICT Development (UN GAID) in 2006. Africa had the New Partnership for Africa Development (NEPAD), which included bringing ICT to schools throughout Africa.

There are many more public and private initiatives, but I will use these few to answer the question: have these initiatives, having been in place for five years or more, made an impact accelerating ICT for Development?

My view?  Mixed. [Read the rest of this entry...]

Did you know …

20101016_WOC465… that more than half of the 20 richest women in the world are Chinese, according to the Shanghai-based Hurun Report. The list compiled its own findings with data from similar rankings from Forbes Magazine.  The top 3 on the list are from China. Some attribute this to the communist ethos of gender-neutrality.

Having read the book Three Swans, a moving biography by Jung Chang of her life and the lives of her grandmother and mother as they grew up in China in the 1900’s, I find these statistics remarkable.  I found it even more remarkable that when I mentioned this list in a work meeting with my Chinese work colleague, he told me Wu Yajun is his classmate’s wife from college.  It’s a small world, even in China.

What’s a country?

A few years ago, this author decided to count how many countries he had been to. The count was 45. But does anybody know what percentage that represents?

You would think that is a fairly straight-forward question. Shouldn’t the definition of a country be any land with a defined border with a functioning government? According to The Economist, what defines a country is not straight-forward at all.

  • The U.S. Department for Homeland Security, in its application for a visa, lists 251 choices for a country.
  • Registering for a Microsoft Hotmail account lists 242 countries.
  • There are 192 members of the United Nations.
  • Kosovo, a country the U.S. went to war to protect its sovereignty, has no internet domain, international football team, nor phone prefix. It has to rent its dialing codes from Monaco and Somalia.

How would you define a country?