April 1, 2021

Ready for a Decade of Disruption?

A riddle for you: what is both an end and a beginning?

Answer: an inflection point. And if the last year felt like an inflection point to you, you are in good company. A lot of smart people believe the next decade is going to be one of massive disruption.

How to prepare?

First, know what’s coming. There’s no certainty, of course, but there are smart ways to plan for big shifts.

Here, for our very innovative readership, are four useful sources of future-tracking:

Intro to the Decade of Disruption

First, how disruptive are we talking?

Hannah Tucker of Balance Point Ventures gives a highly digestible overview of the shift from the industrial economy to the modern economy. She argues that relatively new technology—distributed computing power, machine learning, battery storage—is allowing us to innovate beyond the reaches of our five senses. And she makes a compelling case that the speedy shifts of the last year—good-bye offices! hello vaccines!—are just little previews of what’s in store.

Tracking Disruption

Azeem Azhar’s Exponential View newsletter is a fast-moving catalog of all the things that are about to pull the chair out from under the world as we know it. (It’s also a Substack darling—an example of how gurus and journalists are building profitable enterprises through paid content.) Azeem’s mission: to “help us understand how our societies and political economy will change under the force of rapidly accelerating technologies.”

Topics are extremely wide-ranging: a recent issue touched on the reinvention of Silicon Valley, what to do with Facebook, the use of mRNA to combat malaria, and how Taiwan can use semiconductor dominance for geopolitical advantage.

Planning for Disruption

Amy Webb is a futurist. Her Future Today Institute publishes an annual Tech Trends report that is staggering in scope: this year it includes 500 trends. “The cataclysmic events of the past year resulted in a significant number of new signals,” states the intro in what feels like understatement.

Anyway, one of the cool things about Amy and the Institute is that they are sensitive to just how much time we have to contemplate the future, so they have organized the report into chunks. Future Scenarios is a one-minute read to whet your appetite, and the mega-report is broken into 13 deep dives by trend sector (Artificial Intelligence, Privacy and Security, Blockchain and Fintech, etc.). Even the Methodology overview is a good read—the frameworks are awfully handy, as is the philosophy of “Think exponentially. Act incrementally.”

Profiting from Disruption

ARK Invest’s mission is clear as day: “We invest solely in disruptive innovation.” The byproduct of that mission is fascinating research, both macro—spotting and defining areas of disruptive innovation—and micro—analysis and commentary on individual companies.

ARK’s annual Big Ideas Report is succinct and analytical and focused on how disruptive innovation will create massive business opportunity. Charts track the shift of, say, gaming revenue from premium games to in-game purchases and forecast how AR & VR could catalyze a doubling of gaming revenue. The ARK newsletter is a good read, too.

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