The most common misunderstanding of disruptive innovations is to overestimate their impact in the short term and underestimate it in the long term.
Geoffrey Moore, from this blog post: Geoffrey Moore on competing in the Age of Disruption: An interview by Bob Morris
In the past, automation technology has tended to be relatively specialized and to disrupt one employment sector at a time, with workers then switching to a new emerging industry. The situation today is quite different. Information technology is a truly general-purpose technology, and its impact will occur across the board.
I was talking to an Assistant City Manager in Round Rock, Texas. He’s the sharpest person I know when it comes to technology issues. So, I was not surprised when I learned he has already read Rise of the Robots. I mentioned the quote above by Geoffrey Moore to him, and he quickly concurred.
He gave this example. When the iPad was first released, people thought it would not have that big an impact. And, it took a while. Now, we see iPads everywhere we look; velcroed to the hand of Larry Mowry (CBS11) in the midst of a weather emergency; constantly checked by the AT&T technician who is installing and checking our equipment. In other words, already, I bet they wonder how they could do their jobs without their iPads. And, of course, other tablets are seemingly everywhere, like on each table at Olive Garden. You can order, pay, print out a receipt.
In Rise of the Robots, Martin Ford says that the IT revolution is really just beginning. And he is convinced it will impact everyone, everywhere.
So, if Geoffrey Moore is right, and I think he is, we are all underestimating the long-term effect of disruptive innovations. And, I think we all need to learn to ask this question, over and over again:
What will the impact be of this new technology, device, software, innovation?