How will disruption unfold in 1-3 years?


I remember someone asking me six or seven years ago what was next for mobile phones. I said something to the effect of everyone's going to have a smart phone and be able to watch video on it. Prescient? Not usefully. It's like predicting the demise of newspapers in the mid-nineties or long-distance in the early-nineties.
It is relatively straightforward to carry certain trends to their logical conclusion and come up with plausible predictions for some point in the future. In the long-run everything is disrupted. But it is much harder to figure out who may win or lose from that disruption and what new business models or tweaks will rise up. It is harder still to put actionable timelines on those predictions.

In other words, predicting general disruption doesn't put you in a position to profit from your prediction. To do that, you need to answer a much more specific question: how will disruption unfold in 1-3 years?

If you can answer that question you can create a path to victory and stay on the right side of crazy. If you can't, then you should probably stay away.

Unfolding significant disruption in under a year is possible, but extremely rare. Those are the powder-keg ideas that don't take a lot of development time (arguably snapchat most recently).

Having a long-term vision (say 5yr+) is also important, but that's too far in the future to be actionable (at least in Internet tech). You should be able to work backwards from that vision and create a more concrete path you can execute on in the short (6-18mo) and medium (12-36mo) term.

This path also helps you communicate for fundraising. The story you're telling investors should be about this path. Savvy investors understand the difference between actionable and unactionable disruption predictions. And traction further communicates that you're right.


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I'm the Founder & CEO of DuckDuckGo, the search engine that doesn't track you. I'm also the co-author of Traction, the book that helps you get customer growth. More about me.