Disruptive technologies and how to make a sustainable career

Disruptive technologies, though the name sounds alarming, throughout our history, such technologies have made humankind take huge leaps in improving the ways of life and improvement of industries. We have seen a few revolutionary innovations that have completely changed the way, how industries operate, and how human work has increased and then reduced. Such transformational breakthroughs have not only paved the way to create new markets, but also to transform the existing, established business models, and also in reinventing consumer behaviours. Such technologies have time in time proved that what we have set as a limit of possibility is completely wrong by altering and accelerating the progress of industry and process. In his book, The Innovator's Dilemma, Professor of Harvard Business School, Clayton Christensen, used the word Disruptive Technology and he described how established companies often fail to adopt disruptive innovations because they are focused on improving existing products and serving their current customer base. Consequently, new entrants and innovative startups seize the opportunity to disrupt the market and gain a competitive advantage.

In a well-established market, such technologies will provide the necessary services or products at affordable prices to disrupt the market. Mobile phones and Personal computers brought in a lot of user-friendliness, which made any individual use them without any fuss. What was thought to be just an extension of the landline phone, has evolved into smartphones now, and has disrupted various industries, like communication, photography, and entertainment. Personal computers, too, put computing power to individuals on their desks. This leads to access to the internet for everyone. For any technology to be tagged as a disruptive technology, it has to evolve quickly and disrupt various industries within a relatively short time period. When we take a look back on the start of the internet era and now, we can sense the evolution of various sectors being so rapid. From posts and telegraphs, we were introduced to emails and then SMS, and now there are several applications to communicate instantly with anyone around the world. This is just a simple example. Fields like Aerospace, Healthcare, Education, and many more have had a drastic makeover and improvement after the internet era.

Now let's take a stroll through the time capsule and we will find a few innovations, which were disruptive in nature.

The Printing Press

Johannes Gutenberg invented the process of arranging individual characters and reusing them through which the printing process was made faster and cost-effective, which we call the printing press. This innovation in the 15th century dramatically changed the way of written communication. When the books and documents were handwritten before this, it was time-consuming and expensive too. The printing press enabled the books to be produced in huge numbers and furthermore, anyone could carry the book with them anywhere. This democratised the access of information to everyone and the books which were considered rare and were accessible only to the elite, started to play on the hands of the general public, which also increased literacy.

Steam Engine

The important pillar of the Industrial Revolution. Though James Watt completed it in the 18th century, the development started in the 17th century itself. The steam engine revolutionised the entire society through improved industries and transportation. The engines that could run on steam, powered the machines in manufacturing factories to produce textiles, iron, and other goods on a large scale, further increasing productivity and economic growth. Steam-powered locomotives were introduced in the early 19th century, which introduced the railways making large-distance transfer of goods, raw materials, and people faster and safer. On the water, too, Steam-powered ships replaced traditional sailing vessels, which enabled faster, more reliable sea transportation. This facilitated global trade and communication, making it possible to travel between continents in very less time than before. An increase in the number of factories, and easy transportation, encouraged rural populations to migrate to cities in search of work. This urbanisation had significant social and demographic consequences, shaping modern cities and altering the structure of societies. In general, the disruptive nature of the steam engine extended beyond the economy and technology. It brought about profound changes in the way people lived, worked, and interacted. As societies adapted to industrialization and urbanization, new cultural and social norms emerged.


Electricity has become an essential part of life now. Let's imagine how the current world would react if there was no electricity for a few minutes. This Technology was invented just about 2 centuries back. Scientists like Benjamin Franklin, Alessandro Volta, and Michael Faraday laid the foundation on which, Thomas Alva Edison and Nikola Tesla, made entry into the 1st gen of appliances that we use today. Edison's electric light bulb and Tesla's alternating current (AC) power transmission work completely changed the way of energy generation and distribution. Electricity-powered industries, homes and there by cities, which has gone a long way now to be omnipresent. The development of electricity developed many other industries, new innovations, and increased communication and connectivity, even the telegraph and telephone were innovated based on the electricity factor. The livelihood of people drastically changed as electricity illuminated the nights, hospitals, and schools paving the way for advancements in all areas. Steam engine-based machines and trains were modified to electric based.

Electricity laid the foundation for the modern world, defining how we live, work, and move around. Now it has evolved further into fields of renewable energy and electric mobility, making its presence strong.


There is no explanation required for this. The elixir of life! During the 60s United States Department of Defence's Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) tried to create a decentralised communication network that could withstand nuclear attacks. ARPANET was created, which is like a basic version of the current modern internet., The first successful message between two computers was sent over the ARPANET On October 29, 1969. Later in the 1970s, the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and Internet Protocol (IP), collectively known as TCP/IP was developed by Robert Kahn and Vinton Cerf to standardise data transmission across the network, which became the backbone of the internet. The creation of the World Wide Web by Tim Berners-Lee in 1989 expanded the reach of the Internet to the public and facilitated the ease of information retrieval and sharing. The vast amount of knowledge and resources that are readily available are now accessible to anyone with an internet connection. Instant communication across the globe through email, messaging apps, and social media platforms is another boon that connects people regardless of geographical distances. Traditional shops and businesses moved online to expand and reach more customers through the Internet. The Internet has penetrated everywhere now that even TV satellite channels, and newspapers are becoming antiques. Online news portals, magazines, streaming apps, and OTTs have disrupted traditional mediums. We saw the full potential of the internet during the Covid 19 pandemic and all offices, schools and colleges completely moved online for daily activities.

The internet has changed the way, how people communicate, study, work, collaborate, and run business.

As we see these technologies have completely changed the entire ecosystem and created a new world for us. Similarly, there are a few potential technologies, which have already disturbed industries and societies and some which are taking their baby steps. To name a few, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning, the Internet of Things (IoT), Blockchain, Renewable Energy, Virtual and Augmented Reality (VR/AR), Robotics and Automation, and Nanotechnology. 3D Printing/Additive Manufacturing, Self-driving vehicles, Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering.

These technologies are surely going to create more opportunities and challenges. With the power they wield to entirely change the way things work, and change the way people live, embracing them into our lives and trying to get the best out of it will be the only option in front of us. Though there will be a concern about many people losing jobs, there will also be the opportunity for new jobs created. Upskilling is the key to survival. There are also ethical concerns about how we are going to use these technologies. Innovations like Genetic modification are capable of creating unnatural consequences and so it is always necessary to strike a balance between technology and human values.

In this series, we will be discussing the prospective disruptive technologies, the opportunities and challenges of it and how we should embrace that to use it for the improvement and benefit of human lives.

About the Author

Prabahar Murugan, a Techprenuer, with over a decade of experience in Technical and Managerial roles. Founded a Software Product Company at Madurai, called Amizhth Techno Solutions in 2020. Now the company has spread its wings across multiple products namely Varuvaai, a SaaS based E-commerce online store builder, e-mugavari, a SaaS based website builder, Kanimai, a SaaS based Educational Institute Management System and also into other disciplines of Design Studio, Training Academy and so on.

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