The past twenty years have seen major disruptions to business and government, mostly driven by technology.
Globalization, thanks largely to advanced logistics, has moved jobs, especially manufacturing.
Online retail experiences, thanks to digital security, search and digital profiling has led to disintermediation that has wreaked havoc on any intellectual property that can be digitized – music, books, magazines, newspapers and, more and more video and film.
Search engines and social media (with digital profiling behind the scenes) have remade the advertising industry.
So what is next? Which industries are on the verge of disruption and what technologies will be responsible?
I think education, especially post-secondary education, is facing the most change. The inroads made by for-profit universities are obvious, and this would not be possible without high bandwidth that allows for video instruction and real-time interactions.
Traditional schools, which already saw classroom attendance dwindling as lessons become available via video, are exploring “flipping” the class. Instead of using the face-to-face experience for lectures, class time is dedicated to discussion, exploration of problems and student projects.
In the wings is real-time analysis of students as they answer, struggle with, or fail to solve problems. This will be used increasingly to develop more effective exercises and to help teachers focus on those who need extra help.
These changes, along with new means of accreditation, will force teachers to adopt new approaches, will restructure curricula and may lead to radical rethinking of what traditional universities offer that online universities do not.
We may soon have a significant new path to financing research, startups, and the development of intellectual property. Crowdfunding, which has already become an important means to assist charities and to underwrite small enterprises in developing nations, may rise to compete with investors, including venture capitalists.
The potential of this is seen in new legislation in the U.S. that makes it much easier to collect funds – with a return on investment – via social websites. But this activity has already been used to finance the development of inventions, music collections, and even films.