A new way to map technology disruptions


For every innovation there are two challenges: It must be made, and it must be accepted. The first challenge is all about engineering and technology, the second one is all about mind and design. And both of them do not just consist of make-or-break leaps, but are continuous processes – on the way to the breakthrough, and beyond. Cisco and GDI Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute have found an innovative (sic!) way (http://disruptionmap.gdi.ch/from-innovation-to-disruption) to show for some of the most promising technological disruptions to date, how far they have come in these processes; and how far they still have to go to reach the mind shift, and the technology shift needed to become part of our lives.

The map «From Innovation to Disruption» is inspired by a concept of the Dutch futurist Koert van Mensvoort (www.nextnature.net). His „Pyramid of Technology“ is made of seven stages from vaguely envisioned up to completely naturalized. «Moving through the seven stages» Mensvoort says, «we will learn that new technology may seem artificial at first, but as it rises from the base of the pyramid towards the top, it can become so accepted that we experience it as a vital or even a natural part of our lives.»

For the map of disruption presented here this concept was altered by adding a second dimension: There are seven stages of technology and seven stages of mind. The development in both dimensions is related: The more sophisticated a technology is, the higher the chances it is broadly accepted. But they are not identical: Some technologies would be highly welcomed right now, but are still far away from becoming feasible – like automated translation à la Babelfish. And others are ready to use, but far away from being accepted – like genetically modified food.

The two-dimensional approach to technology disruption is mapped here for some 30 of (potential) ground-breaking disruptive innovations. It might equally be useful as a framework to better understand the innovation processes of the past and the future, or of specific industries, regions, epochs or companies.


European Trend Day 2015