Disruption. The buzzword that’s being anxiously whispered at office water fountains around the world. But how well do we really understand the nature of disruption? They say that only by knowing your enemy, can you successfully oppose and defeat him. With this in mind, I explored some of the earliest examples of disruption, tracing its often nefarious tendencies from the era of the Spice Trade, to where we are today. Here are my ten favourite examples why you should embrace disruption or perish while you stubbornly resist change.

In 1822 – Ice warehousing disrupted the spice route

Dubbed “The Ice King”, Frederic Tudor figured out how to store ice for long periods of time and revolutionised food preservation…along with our taste for chilled beverages and icy desserts. Within two decades, shipping blocks of ice around the globe had surpassed the once lucrative spice trade. Basically, ice disrupted spice!

In the 1930’s – The fridge disrupted the ice box 

There was a time when the “iceman” delivered your daily block of chill to your doorstep. Ice boxes (cupboards containing a block of ice and enough space for a few perishables) were popularised when the Ice King got everyone hooked on frozen water. By the 1930s, methods of refrigeration and artificial ice production has progressed to the point that ice harvesting faded into the history books.

Nowish – AI-driven bots are disrupting customer service

As machine learning capabilities are improving, bots are becoming smarter and slowly eliminating the need to hire consultants to answer the same questions day in and day out.

Nowish – The humble lamp post becomes a plug

Ubitricity, a German start up, is turning lamp post into electric vehicle charging posts. Drivers can simply plug in at night and wake up to a fully charged car in the morning; users can be tracked and expect a monthly bill in their inbox.

Nowish – Clever cameras are disrupting retail stores

Along with online shopping, new tech gadgets such as the Amazon Echo are taking all the fun out of finding parking at a mall and shuffling alongside crowds of consumers. Echo can take photos and short videos of your outfits with its built-in camera, allowing you to save your looks, share them with friends and teach Echo about your personal style so that it can recommend your next online fashion purchase.

Soonish – Drones will disrupt the fridge

It all seems very sci-fi if you’re not living in San Francisco, but drone delivery is real. Amazon and Walmart are dreaming up floating warehouses (blimps), from which drones would be able to pick up and deliver fresh produce within minutes

Futureish – Space colonisation will disrupt land ownership

When the last morsel of land was discovered, we all thought there was nothing left to explore and there was no more mystery in the world. Until we realised we could ship on over to Mars and call it home. It begs the question: what will space-age politics look like?

By John Sanei