Age of disruption

| Print |  Email
Articles - January 2014
Monday, December 09, 2013

BY LINDA BAKER


0114 Disruption 01On a dark and stormy night, Sridhar Solur, director of mobility and cloud services at Hewlett-Packard, is in the Portland offices of software firm New Relic, weighing in on a subject close to his heart. “It’s about the future,” the dapper, jeans-clad Solur tells the audience, most of whom look like the kind of people Dave Chen, a principal at Equilibrium Capital, was describing to me a few days earlier as  stereotypical 21st-century “disruptors”: “Guys who wear hats and have dogs underneath their desks.”

About 370,000 babies are born every day, observes Solur, whose talk, held in November, was the first in a monthly “FutureTalk” series co-sponsored by the Portland Incubator Experiment. Three billion people live in poverty, and about 2 million mobile devices are activated daily.

What’s Solur's point? Mobile technology has “rewritten” Alexander Maslow’s famous hierarchy of needs; mobile phones, he observes wryly, have joined food, safety and shelter as essential to human existence. “Tell me one technology that has penetrated everyone’s life like mobile,” he says.

The New Relic audience is silent.

We live in a world where every aspect of human endeavor — science, business, education — is seemingly being overtaken by the tech sector. Or, as New Yorker writer Nathan Heller observed in a recent article about the social changes roiling San Francisco: “At some point, tech stopped being an industry and turned into the substrate of most things changing in urban culture.” But in a time where technological innovation is a constant, there are other major disruptions on the horizon: global warming, economic crisis and radical geo-demographic shifts — namely, the rise of China as a consumer culture.

To usher in the New Year, I asked a few executives in the business, policy and nonprofit sectors to opine on disruption in 2014: What are the game-changing forces (good and bad) shaping different industries? How are businesses and consumers reacting? And what is at stake for the way Oregonians live, work and play? The responses provide a snapshot of social, economic and environmental transformation, loosely framed around a common theme — a theme Solur sounded at the end of his talk. “To survive,” says this mobile futurist employed by an “incumbent” PC company, “every industry will have to transform.”



 

More Articles

Urban renewer

Linda Baker
Wednesday, June 24, 2015
UnknownBY LINDA BAKER   

One year after he was appointed chair of the Portland Development Commission, Tom Kelly talks about PDC's longevity, Neil Kelly's comeback and his new role as Portlandia's landlord.


Read more...

Intrepid reporter checks out ZoomCare rebrand

The Latest
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
dentistthumbPHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN

Like all good journalists, OB editorial staff typically eschew freebies. But health care costs being what they are, digital news editor Jacob Palmer couldn't resist ZoomCare's offer of a three-in-one (cleaning, exam, whitening) dental office visit, guaranteed to take no more than 57 minutes. 


Read more...

Stemming the tide of money in politics

Linda Baker
Wednesday, June 10, 2015
 jeff-lang-2012-thumbBY LINDA BAKER

Jeff Lang and his wife Rae used to dole out campaign checks like candy.  “We were like alcoholics,” Lang says. ”We couldn’t just give a little.”


Read more...

Photo Log: The 2015 100 Best Green Workplaces in Oregon

The Latest
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
greenthumbPHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN

Oregon Business celebrated the 100 Best Green Workplaces with an awards luncheon yesterday at the Nines Hotel in downtown Portland.


Read more...

The Backstory: Portland Youth Builders

The Latest
Wednesday, June 03, 2015
blog002 1BY JASON E. KAPLAN | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

As part of our green workplaces story, Oregon Business checked out a community service project undertaken by Portland Youth Builders, a nonprofit alternative high school. In partnership with Whole Foods, PYB built garden boxes for a Home Forward  housing site. Home Forward is a government agency that provides housing for low income residents and people with disabilities.


Read more...

Cherry Raincoat

June 2015
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER

Spring rains are the bane of an Oregon cherry farmer’s existence. Even a few sprinkles can crack the fruit so badly it’s not worth picking. Science to the rescue: Researchers at Oregon State University have developed a spray-on film that cuts rain-related cracking in half, potentially saving a season’s crop. The coating, patented as SureSeal, is made from natural chemicals similar to those found in the skins of cherries: cellulose, palm oil-based wax and calcium.


Read more...

5 stats about Oregon fireworks

The Latest
Thursday, June 18, 2015
fireworksthumb001BY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Fireworks are a booming industry, even if the pyrotechnics have turned July 4th into a day fire marshals, and many residents, love to hate.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS