July 28, 2014

Digital Disruption in Unexpected Places

technology is turning upside down industries and processes that have not seen innovation for decades @TimBliamptis @WeathergageTeam

Software is eating the world one delighted customer at a time.

Marc Andreessen’s line “software is eating the world” was prophetic when he said it, and it remains prophetic to this day. We have spent significant time in prior writings unpacking the word “software”. It seems only fair to also unpack “the world”.

The point of the prophecy is not that software companies are becoming bigger, or more prevalent. The point is that whether we recognize it or not, software based technology is spreading into an ever widening swath of the world. As it spreads, it disrupts industries that heretofore had nothing to do with technology. Indeed, technology is turning upside down industries and processes that have not seen innovation for decades. Some of these industries are colossal – tens and hundreds of billions of dollars of revenue.

Nor are these industries esoteric. In fact, there are now a host of proof points that “hit you where you live”, even if you’re not a securities analyst by training. Here are three examples out of 100s, in each case with a link to a one minute video that provides further embellishment.

Pillpack delivers pharmaceuticals to people’s homes in a format that requires the user to do no counting, timing, apportioning, or anything else. If you have elderly parents with multiple prescriptions, it’s a no-brainer. Pillpack places a new twist on a $100B industry that is not known for innovation – or customer service.

Pillpack Video 

Uber has become a phenomenon. Beloved by urban dwellers and frequent business travelers, its network now spans 39 countries. Among its devotees, the company name has become a verb, as in “I Ubered in from the airport’”. Clean, simple, transparent, Uber provides a superior experience relative to conventional livery services and taxis, another industry not noted for its customer service. It recently raised private capital at an $18 billion valuation.

How Uber Works Video

Castlight Health is a pioneer in a new category of cloud-based software that enables enterprises to gain control over their health care costs. Castlight’s Enterprise Healthcare Cloud offering transforms a massive quantity of complex data into transparent and useful information.  Castlight had its IPO in March of 2014 and is now a public company.

Castlight Health Video

Three companies, each addressing an enormous market, with not an iota of overlap among those markets. It’s fair to say that at no other time in history would companies in the pharmaceutical distribution, transportation, and insurance services industries have so much in common. Until now. Look into the engineering departments of all three and you will find software engineers.

All three of these disruptive companies have software at their core.  To their satisfied customers, the software and technology are invisible. The best implementations of the new technology work so seamlessly that customers neither know nor care about all the big data being crunched behind the scenes. They just work. And in doing so they delight their customers with a customer experience superior to anything they have previously experienced.

Software is eating the world one delighted customer at a time. And the pace is accelerating.

Pity there isn’t a disruption index to buy. Or, for that matter, a taxi medallion index to short.


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A nautical term that indicates a favorable position relative to the wind. A ship that "has the weathergage" has the initiative and hence a significant advantage over its rivals.