These 9 ‘hashtags of digital disruption’ are trends to watch in the coming wave of change

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The knots regulators have tied themselves in over ridesharing, roomsharing and the sharing of lives through social media are nothing compared with what’s to come.

The reshaping of every business and personal interaction through disruptive technologies is already disrupting politics and the business of government.

But the merging of the big trends takes us even further into the unpredictable. And many of those making decisions don’t know yet that they don’t know what they don’t know.

In Wake Up – The nine hashtags of digital disruption, I map the big trends that have changed behaviour and describe how their progress has all been foreseeable to anyone alert to how their world is changing.

Here’s a quick summary.


Think Kodak, think Netflix, think Borders, taxis and (soon) newspapers. They’re all businesses that deny reality by counting on customers’ sentiment for their products or believing their financial strength will strand digital competitors. The rest of us know what happens next when #RealityBites.


We spend hours a day on our smartphones – to shop, gossip, plan meals, date, bank and read the news. We’ve never been more in touch or seemingly busy. Businesses that stay #InTouch will be the winnners. The rest will wait until #RealityBites.


Public transport has become the home office where we order our groceries, do our banking and rarely look out the window to check the weather or our location. Driverless cars will be common on the road within 10 years and every commute will become somewhere to do business or be entertained.


Fitness bands are a start. If doctors allow, the monitors we wear will pump more and more information back to them and help us with more choices (such as “should I eat that donut?”) The ability to more cheaply deliver health services but also to use the combination of big data and the growing knowledge of human genomics will prolong lives and create new big businesses.


A five-year-old is more likely to know how to operate a tablet than to tie her shoelace. But the tablet with the right apps will also help her to read, count and learn more quickly. Just as well because learning will be the number one skill as technology displaces careers. And the technology toddlers use will be their expectation as they flow through the schools and higher education systems which need to get #Fit4Purpose if they are to serve the generation who needs to #Learn4Life.


The #InMotion, #InTouch consumer is used to getting what they want, when they want it and at a price they like. Every action becomes a transaction. Businesses that are genuinely #CustomerFirst will win. The rest will feel the crunch when #RealityBites. Think regulated service providers, government services and politicians themselves.


Opening hours are irrelevant as #CustomerFirst shoppers stream online for everything from cars to diamonds to building parts. The planet’s biggest shopping day ever will be November 11 when Jack Ma hits start on Ali Baba’s Singles Day. Ali Baba only exists online. Just like Amazon started by the world’s third richest man, Jeff Bezos. Neither company existed 25 years ago.


Netflix’s Reed Hastings sees sleep as his business’s biggest rival. Its algorithms which pick and predict viewer behaviour are his biggest asset in the battle royale for attention in the entertainment industry. They know what you really watch and keep offering you more of the same. Soon it will be while you are #InMotion. Businesses that succeed are following his lead. No rest for the wicked.


The jury’s out on how many jobs robots will take from both blue and white collar workplaces. The lowest estimate is that 20% of jobs are at risk. The highest is 47%. The protection, consistently across the research, is to be flexible and to have creative and problem-solving skills you can at least apply to your own life. And to have learnt how to #Learn4Life.

Technology is wonderful and has always delivered gains. But the question is whether we are entering a new Age of Advancement. Or whether it will go down as the Age of the Selfie.

Our best chance is to understand the forces around us; to wake up.

David Fagan is author of Wake Up – The nine h#shtags of digital disruption, and runs the Real World Futures program at Qld University of Technology where is Director of Corporate Transition and an adjunct professor of business. He is a former Qld Editorial Director of News Corporation and edited The Courier-Mail for a decade.

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