Shaking things up: Disruptive technologies in 2016


The automobile made the horse and carriage obsolete. The rise of email made the U.S. Postal Service nervous. And the iPhone made BlackBerrys everywhere uncool.

This process, known as disruptive innovation, or disruptive technology, refers to the moment when a new technology shakes up the established social scene.

While technology is always fluid and changing, disruptive technologies are particularly interesting because they create new playing fields, industries and ways of doing things. Many tech experts are predicting that 2016 will be the year the following technologies shake up the future of how we work and connect.

The Internet of Things

Yes, this one has been around for a while. Quick recap: The Internet of Things (IoT) is a network of objects embedded with electronics or sensors that allows them to collect data. Those objects can be anything from smart home sensors that adjust your air-conditioning to heart monitoring implants.

Although there are already a lot of “things,” in 2016, it’s going to grow a lot. Gartner, Inc., an information technology, research and advisory company, forecasts that 6.4 billion connected things will be in use worldwide in 2016. That’s up 30 percent from 2015, and estimates reach 20.8 billion by 2020. In 2016, 5.5 million new things will get connected every day.

Manufacturers are now designing their products with a tech-savvy approach in mind. Information Age uses the example of the car industry. Working within the Internet of Things, automobile manufacturers can standardize production of cars with every feature available and then turn them on or off through software and licensing, depending on what type of “technology plan” the customer has purchased.


2016 is the year some phone companies will start testing 5G networks. Having 5G would mean downloading a movie in seconds, rather than minutes. In short: everything online would be faster. While it won’t be commercially viable until at least 2020, the technology is already being tested in different locations in Massachusetts and San Francisco.

3D Printing

Three dimensional printing has already accomplished a lot since the first 3D printer was created in 1984. In 2016, we will continue to see progression in how people use 3D printing. Some are even predicting that 2016 will be the start of 3D printing’s tipping point, where it finally becomes affordable for the average consumer.

According to Markets and Markets, the 3D printing field is expected to grow more than 14 percent annually to become an $8.4 billion industry by 2020.

Already, it’s creating major shifts in manufacturing in the automobile and aviation industries. GE currently owns more than 300 3D printing machines, which are in use globally to manufacture parts and products that are otherwise costly and hard to make.

In the medical industry, 3D printing has allowed scientists to start printing blood vessels and organs.

Cloud Computing

Many of us feel like Amy Poehler when it comes to the cloud -What is it? Where is it? What does it do?

According to Forbes, 2016 is the year the cloud is going mainstream. More businesses are incorporating it into their operations. A recent survey from venture capital firm, NorthBridge, found that most departments have already transitioned to the cloud. Cisco predicts by 2019, 86 percent of company workloads will be processed by cloud data centers.

This coming year will also see more gaps in the cloud transition closing with the rise of new companies specializing in cloud training and certification, and a focus on the security and management of these systems.

As new technologies continue to disrupt existing industries, many businesses will grow and develop. 2016 will be a year of transitions and innovations to technology that will help to make the world around us smarter and more connected.


About Author


Brittany studied English at Grove City College. She loves a good short story collection and writing about how technology shapes the world around us. Also, French fries.

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