elon, musk, disruptive, tesla,
Elon Musk created a lot of excitement recently with the announcement that his company ‘Tesla’ will go into production of the new Tesla battery which will have the potential to transform the take up of renewable energy.
Many of us would ideally like to take up solar panels on our homes, but the inability to store the energy produced during the day to use in it in the evening creates a barrier against a much larger uptake. The cost equations do not currently stack up especially given the low price paid for this energy by utility companies when households feed it back into the grid. But consider the introduction of an affordable battery to store this energy and this has game changing potential. Technologies with such game changing potential have come to be described by the new buzz word ‘disruptive’ businesses.
Disruptive technologies are defined as advances that will transform life, and the global economy. This flips the coin on our understanding of the word ‘disruptive’, normally associated with negative connotations, to one that reflects opportunity, progress and solutions. A business is deemed disruptive when it shakes up an industry and changes the way things are done, not only creating competition but often to the extent of making traditional methods obsolete. Cheaper and simpler disruptive businesses can open up doors to new markets and categories of users that were either previously locked out or never considered. Think about how the internet has changed banking transactions, how PayPal (also founded by Musk) and online shopping has impacted retail stores, what email has done to postal service providers and what online reporting has done to the newspaper industry. A report from the McKinsey Global Institute has identified 12 technologies that could drive enormous transformations over the next decade. Standouts from the list include: Renewable Energy – Sources such as solar, wind, hydro-electric, and ocean wave hold the promise of an endless source of power without stripping resources, contributing to climate change, or worrying about competition for fossil fuels.
Energy-storage devices or physical systems that store energy for later use. Technologies such as lithium-ion batteries and fuel cells already power electric and hybrid vehicles. Advanced robotics— increasingly capable robots with enhanced “senses,” dexterity, and intelligence used to automate tasks or augment humans offer huge scope. Next-generation genomics – fast, low cost gene sequencing, advanced big data analytics and synthetic biology (‘writing’ DNA) leading to improved health treatments. 3D printing – with applications in manufacturing and medical technologies such as ‘bioprinted’ organs or bone parts. The full list can be found here: McKinsey.com – Disruptive Technologies
The potential benefits to the world are yet to be quantified but the disruptors of today will deliver solutions and improvements for tomorrow. Whilst it is hard to predict which technologies will have the greatest impact an early investment into these types of business can bring financial reward. Predicting industries that might be ‘disrupted’ is equally important.