Going Through the Big D: We’re Talking About Disruption

CMcCullough_Final_c-199x300BY CHELSEA McCULLOUGH
Special contributor to Silicon Hills News

Welcome to buzzword bingo. These are the terms and phrases that are prolific in headlines, tweets, panel discussions and conversations.
Topping Forbes’ list in 2014 is the word “disrupt.” The Wall Street Journal recently penned a piece “Disruption Is the New Normal,” where they describe the constant wave of innovations (another buzzword) that are replacing other technologies at a rapid pace. The article states, “Who would have thought that a mobile phone would challenge industries as varied as home phones, video cameras and flashlights? Digital alternatives undermined the business models for travel agents, restaurant guides and newspapers.”
Reporter L. Gordon Crovitz makes an elegant case with relevant examples of how mobile mapping apps have “disrupted” related satellite-based GPS device companies such as Tom Tom and Garmin. What was once a cutting-edge gadget becomes almost instantly obsolete. The most interesting aspect (for us at least) about this article is the well-stated point that while consumers are certainly benefiting… regulators are spinning. Technology is moving so quickly, it’s challenging for industry experts to keep up much less government officials who often struggle to keep stride with the pace of the private sector.

So what is a regulator to do?

Some economic champions would suggest that government should get out of the way and instead of creating roadblocks (or holding fast to outdated regulations), they should pave the way for entrepreneurs to create market-driven solutions. We couldn’t agree more, especially when it comes to expanding access to high-speed broadband. Consumers are downloading data, surfing the Internet, scanning social media and consuming video at ever-increasing rates, particularly via the mobile phones. This trend shows no sign of slowing. Smart regulators will open the floodgates and encourage companies to invest in communications infrastructure needed to provide platforms for entrepreneurs who are eager to satisfy the voracious appetite of broadband consumers.
True, regulation has its place and the private sector shouldn’t run unfettered. But this is a challenging new time when consumers are becoming accustomed to lightning-fast delivery of new products that provide ultimate convenience. Crovitz agrees and suggests, “The biggest impact of this big bang of innovation over the next few years could be on regulated industries and government itself.” And technology isn’t alone. Other sectors like pharmaceuticals, education, energy, and auto are seeing innovations run up against regulations designed before their new offerings existed.
When regulations, and the officials that administer those policies, stand in the way of “new-better-faster,” the people will speak and expect to be heard. Talk about disruption.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Chelsea McCullough’s work bridges the interrelated areas of entrepreneurship, social good, technology and communications. She serves as Executive Director of Texans for Economic Progress, a statewide coalition that advocates greater access to tech education, entrepreneurship and infrastructure. She is also founder of Intercambio, a consulting company that connects companies to opportunity where has participated in the launch of several entrepreneurial companies including FrameBuzz, NewsTaco, FlashValet and Vidamerica.

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