We are in the midst of a major technological disruption – one that will transform the nature of our business practices and daily operations. How we function internally and with our external customers will evolve. The kind of dynamic change we are experiencing has occurred twice in the last 40 years. We are in the third wave of technological overhaul. These waves of change will likely happen more frequently in the future. The simple truth is that once this wave has passed, EVERY company will become a technology company to a certain degree.

First Wave of Technology Disruption

The first wave came about with the availability of the personal computer in the early 1980s. In 1965, Moore’s Law predicted that the number of transistors on an integrated circuit would double every two years and decrease in relative cost at an exponential pace. It stated that processing power would double and the price would drop by half in bi-yearly intervals. This prediction coming true is what pushed the world into the digital age. Computers could be built smaller and smaller and at a fraction of the cost of the prior years’ models. By the early 1980s the technology was affordable enough and could be made small enough that individuals could take advantage of them.

The decentralizing of computing technology allowed individuals to rapidly perform functions and improve overall efficiency. This was the beginning of database management as we know it today.

Second Wave of Technology Disruption

Telecommunication networks were used to link these personalized computers. This interconnection enabled the rapid collaborative development of open source software through online repositories, which became the worldwide web. These software programming languages came to be standardized and used all over the web. Most businesses at the time utilized these programming languages to set up their own intranets, which were isolated and customized to their own particular needs.

Tech companies like Microsoft, Apple, Google and Apache had to allow for these technical standards which were established in the early days of the web to be supported by their server software and browsers rather than build their own individual proprietary software. This allowed the web to continue to grow because it required cross-system functionality. For example, Google Chrome would support the same features as Apple’s Safari and vice versa. It also meant that one tech company couldn’t black out their competitors features and forced them to compete by advancing the tech and delivering better products. Businesses began to use the massive established telecommunication networks for practical business solutions in the late 1990s and 2000s. This allowed for instantaneous access to data and mobile utilization through email and later through mobile applications. As smartphone technology advanced and connectivity became more reliable and more available, the mobile workforce blossomed and traditional corporate systems and expectations began to shift.

Third Wave of Technology Disruption

This is where we are now. This current wave is propelled by the availability of vast amounts of data and artificial intelligence and machine learning. According to the Association of Intelligent Information Management (AIIM), the Third Wave of Technological Disruption will be about using advancing technology to improve efficiency and productivity and for “understanding, anticipating, and redefining internal and external customer experiences.” The wave is going to change many organizations’ approach. There will be less need for intermediaries. Multiple parties will be able to work on the same task with minimal delays and an increased level accountability. Systems will face less security risks IF organizations make the proper investment in their information governance programs… That is a big “if.”