As connecting to the world around us becomes easier, faster and cheaper, digital disruption becomes more frequent and exciting.

It’s one of those new age buzz terms that just sounds cool, isn’t it? “Digital disruption.”

No doubt you heard it a few times in 2015, a dozen times in 2016, and you can be sure you will hear it even more in 2017.  

What is digital disruption?

Digital disruption refers to a change in a digital technology or business model relating to a service that impacts its value to consumers – new innovation that alters the landscape of what can be provided, where and how it can be provided, who will have access to it, and at what price.

In most cases, this refers to a new company or a new approach to a product or service that solves a consumer problem and is quickly adapted either locally or across the globe.

For consumers, digital disruption is almost always a positive, changing the landscape by providing greater choice and increasing competition amongst companies.

It literally disrupts the existing business model by throwing into the mix something better or, at least, more attractive to enough consumers to force things to change.

For some, especially larger, established businesses rooted in existing ways of thinking, it can be a negative.

It can sometimes force down prices, and even demand corporate change.

However, digital disruption does not necessarily mean death by digital for those companies who have been disturbed.

This is because a disruption can reinvigorate interest in an industry.

For example, since the rise of eBook devices like the Kindle, interest in physical paperbacks has begun to grow.

And last year’s breakout smartphone app Pokémon Go potentially even helped drive the physical 3DS games Pokémon Sun and Moon to record sales.

No matter what your perspective, digital disruption has become an unstoppable force in modern society: one that drives the evolution of digital products and services.

The digital disrupter of 2016

To get a better understanding of digital disruption in practice, let’s take a look at one of the most significant recent disturbances in Australia: the arrival of Netflix.

Already a sensation in overseas markets, Netflix’s inevitable entrance into the Australian market had a wide-ranging impact on local consumers and businesses.

Functional, affordable and easily attainable, its adoption rate was almost unprecedented.

Not only did it challenge competitors like Foxtel and Channel Nine to release services like Presto and Stan, at the time it also led to some changes from internet retail service providers in the form of free Netflix subscriptions, for example.

Now that you understand digital disruption in action, we’re sure you can see some of the other companies that have quickly and dramatically changed the way we engage with services in Australia.

Brands like Spotify, AirBnB, Uber, WhatsApp, and Twitch are disruptive forces that have altered their industries and motivated change.

Digital disruption in 2017 

Digital disruption is only set to get more impactful, more frequent and occur through a broader range of industries as we move through 2017.

Let’s take a look at three key ingredients for digital disruption:

  1. The ability to produce new products quickly and cheaply - possible through the rise of crowdfunding sites, connected small businesses and accessible digital tools
  2. The ability to share that product efficiently through global platforms - think Amazon, Google, iTunes, Facebook - or simply as its own bespoke online service
  3. More consumers connected to the digital world through fast broadband

All three of these ingredients are on the up. The nbn™ network is enabling more Australian small businesses to distribute their ideas and reach their audience in a fast and effective fashion.

Add to this the exploding internet of things – which refers to the connection of household products to the internet – continues to expand across our homes and businesses, ensuring more industries, products and services can be impacted by a digital disruption.

Big tech trends of 2017, such as machine learning and big data analytics, will also drive digital disruption, allowing for products to become more personalised, and therefore more relevant to consumers.

So what will we see disrupt the digital landscape in 2017? Part of the beauty of digital disruption is it’s hard to predict – what’s the next great idea?

Could it be Amazon arriving in Australia and offering on-demand delivery services?

Could it be the start-up Slyce, which is working on visual product recognition software that will allow you to scan a product in a store and get an instant online price comparison?

Or is it affordable 3D printing? What about on-device security measures?

One thing is for sure: the world will let you know when it happens.

Digital disruption isn't the only thing shaking up industries. Check out these top digital tech trends to expect in 2017.

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