Tuesday, July 2, 2013

America the Disruptive

America is the story of disruption,
ask Molly Pitcher.
This last week has been a weird mix of anniversaries and events.  The Supreme Court expanded the rights of gay people with the over-turning of the Defense of Marriage act.  This happens during the same week as the 150th Anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg where this nation almost dissolved into a feudal Confederacy and technocratic Union.  We have a black president while our Supreme Court repealed election laws which made his election possible.  It is a mulligan stew of conflicting trends and directions.  I suppose that science fiction author William Gibson was right when he said, “The future is here.  It’s just not widely distributed yet.” This week the blog is discussing how this uneven distribution or ideas and technology is part of the American experience.

I began thinking about this subject when I read an article by Maria Bartiromo about the disruptive nature of software in the business world.  After a good read, it dawned on me that the entire history of the United States is the story of technological innovation and disruption.

America was discovered thanks to advances in ship building and navigation during the renaissance.  Since the first settlers landed on our shores, the American experience has been one of technological discovery and advancement.  One of our founding fathers, Ben Franklin, became the nation’s first Renaissance man and patron of science with his work on electricity, home heading and his improvements to printing.
This devotion to science and engineering is a unique part of the American psyche.  It led to the creation of the Erie Canal and the development of the cotton gin.  It made railroads possible and helped create the modern research laboratory for Thomas Edison.

Each of these technological advances caused huge disruptions.  The cotton gin made human slavery profitable for the south and railroads made it possible to defeat the confederacy during the Civil War.  Telephones and telegraphs made communications swifter and the world smaller.  Refrigeration transformed the way we eat and the web has altered the way we interact with each other.  I would argue that a solider from the Civil War placed in the middle of contemporary America would consider this a time of wonder and magic.

Each technological change has created social change.  The promises of the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to the constitution were only enforced 100 years later thanks to advent of national television broadcasts in the middle of the 20th Century.  The labor movement is an outgrowth of the industrialization of our nation.  Civil rights and the sexual revolution would never have happened without Motown and Rock and Roll playing over a new-fangled device called the radio.

So when I read Bartiromo’s article on LinkedIn, I just nodded in agreement.  Software is a new disruptive influence in America.  Software is changing business and society.  It is generating piles of wealth and if you have the correct skills you will benefit in this brave new world.  If you don’t there are going to be economic and social problems.

I do not know how to solve these larger issues but I do know how to help small and medium sized business adapt to these trends.  At E3 systems we are creating disruptive software which can track your inventory.  Coming up later this month we will be releasing our fleet management software which will help you stay on top of fleet maintenance.  This is pretty powerful stuff and it is going to be disruptive.  You may need fewer clerks in your office or you may assign those people to sales or customer service roles which might improve your revenue.

The times are changing and everything can feel profoundly disruptive but change and disruption are part of the American experience.  Gibson was right, the future is not evenly distributed but at E3 systems we will keep on trying.

Until next time.