Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Review of 2016: The big 'D'

By Nick Wood, Total Telecom
Tuesday 20 December 16

Disruption, that overused word, showed its dark side in a year marked by political upsets and economic uncertainty.

The telecoms industry has been using the word "disruption" with such frequency over the last 15 years that it has almost lost all meaning. However, the events of 2016 showed that in fact, disruption is only just getting properly started, and it has a dark side too. At no point was this more apparent than when Donald Trump shocked the world by winning the U.S. election, and the alleged roles that blanket media coverage, fake news disseminated via Facebook, and supposed cyber attacks carried out by Russia, might have played in his victory. "Last night, we were reminded of a darker side to this disruption," said Bryan Cantrill, CTO of Samsung-owned virtualisation specialist Joyent, in a presentation at Structure San Francisco, the morning after the election. "Last night, we learned that disruption isn't only for economics: democracy affords a kind of political disruption." He attributed Trump's victory in part to Silicon Valley's culture, which on the one hand is an exciting culture because it is revolutionising industries, but on the other hand, it is also causing distress to many, as human jobs begin to make way for software and machines. Indeed, until recently, when disruption was discussed in technology and telecoms circles, it was talked of in the context of new players disrupting individual sectors of the market, sometimes claiming one or two high-profile victims along the way, for example: - Amazon disrupted book-selling, followed by retail, and enterprise IT - Napster disrupted music - The Web disrupted publishing - Skype disrupted voice - YouTube disrupted video - The iPhone disrupted handsets - WhatsApp disrupted messaging - Uber disrupted taxis - 5G will disrupt just about everything…

The telecoms industry has been using the word "disruption" with such frequency over the last 15 years that it has almost lost all meaning. However, the events of 2016 showed that in fact, disruption is only just getting properly started, and it has a dark side too. At no point was this more apparent than when Donald Trump shocked the world by winning the U.S. election, and the alleged roles that blanket media coverage, fake news disseminated via Facebook, and supposed cyber attacks carried out by Russia, might have played in his victory. "Last night, we were reminded of a darker side to this disruption," said Bryan Cantrill, CTO of Samsung-owned virtualisation specialist Joyent, in a presentation at Structure San Francisco, the morning after the election. "Last night, we learned that disruption isn't only for economics: democracy affords a kind of political disruption." He attributed Trump's victory in part to Silicon Valley's culture, which on the one hand is an exciting culture because it is revolutionising industries, but on the other hand, it is also causing distress to many, as human jobs begin to make way for software and machines. Indeed, until recently, when disruption was discussed in technology and telecoms circles, it was talked of in the context of new players disrupting individual sectors of the market, sometimes claiming one or two high-profile victims along the way, for example: - Amazon disrupted book-selling, followed by retail, and enterprise IT - Napster disrupted music - The Web disrupted publishing - Skype disrupted voice - YouTube disrupted video - The iPhone disrupted handsets - WhatsApp disrupted messaging - Uber disrupted taxis - 5G will disrupt just about everything…

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