You may or may not know that Xerox was the original patent-holder for many of today’s ubiquitous technologies. Of
course, the obvious example is the world’s first automatic copier, the Xerox 914. But did you also know Ethernet, fiber optics, the graphical user interface (GUI), the mouse, and even the PC workstation are all Xerox innovations?

Beyond disruptive technologies’ power to transform our economic, social and political landscapes, I think the most exciting outcomes arrive in the form of new business startups that pursue opportunities to bring innovative products and/or service to market that create broad, consumer-based appeal for the disruptive technologies’ real-world benefits.

Using one of the examples above, the graphical user interface was not invented with today’s computing, digital entertainment and mobile communications technologies as the envisioned outcome. But plenty of savvy entrepreneurs recognized how truly disruptive the GUI could become, and an entire industry was built around the technology’s implications for simplifying the everyday lives of billions of people.

For small-business owners in almost any industry, paying attention now to the innovations that promise to transform tomorrow’s economy is a critical priority when seeking to capitalize on emerging opportunities.

A report from the McKinsey Global Institute provides interesting insight into the ways in which new and/or evolving technologies will disrupt the status quo and present lucrative business opportunities for those in position to seize the moment.

The entire report is well worth reading, but in the interest of cutting to the chase, here are the identified “Twelve potentially economically disruptive technologies”:

  • Mobile Internet
  • Automation of knowledge work
  • Internet of Things
  • Cloud technology
  • Advanced robotics
  • Autonomous and near-autonomous vehicles
  • Next-generation genomics
  • Energy storage
  • 3D printing
  • Advanced materials
  • Advanced oil and gas exploration and recovery
  • Renewable energy

The report provides detailed explanations of those technologies, as well as the predicted economic impact of each.

I encourage you to read the sections of the report that cover the topics you find most interesting, and then return here to share your commentary.