Disruption is often described as a wave.

When it comes to the wave of digital disruption, the conditions were based on previous disruptive waves, including the electrification of the world and, later, the creation and growth of computing.

“The current wave of disruption is different,” said the Harvard Business Review. “Today's digital technologies involve unprecedented breadth and scale — comparable to the introduction of commercial electric power in the early 20th century.” 

What followed in the case of commercial electric power was the birth or rebirth of whole new industries, business models, and innovation well beyond the technology itself.

You can look at disruptive waves in three phases: 

  • Phase 1: the adoption or creation of new technologies or practices
  • Phase 2: the adaptation of those new capabilities to solve existing problems
  • Phase 3: the amplification of those capabilities and cross-pollination of ideas to identify and solve new challenges

The digital disruption brought about by the introduction of computing and more specifically mobile computing has led to mass change in many sectors, but those changes are still highly focused on solving problems we already had.

For example, accounting has been automated and efficiencies found, but for the most part, it's the same industry. Similarly, the airline industry has wrung out all sorts of efficiencies and performance from digital change, but as an industry, it's still highly focused on the old model of flights, schedules, supplies, and logistics.

While the global pandemic has accelerated the pace of change, it hasn’t really changed the technologies that underlie digital disruption. Moreso, it has opened our minds to the kind of “other” problems and challenges we can solve with technology, if we are just a little more flexible and farsighted.

Delivery, dining, meeting, working — they have all changed over the last two years, but again, moreso because we opened ourselves up to the idea of using the technology to do things we were not necessarily comfortable with because of new health and safety concerns. We have been disrupted, we have come to terms with the machines and technologies that started the disruption, and now we’re starting to see what we can do with these new tools beyond what we were already doing with them. 

That may sound a little reaching at a time when we're trying to restore balance and resilience, but if you've ever met or read about my next guest, you will know that he has always been at the leading edge of deciphering what technology can do that will significantly change our lives for the better.

Jeff Katz’s early work with American Airlines on the global Sabre reservation system, his groundbreaking startups like Orbitz, and his newest venture, Journera, all take a long view of the future and work backwards from that long view. 

While that can sound terribly complicated, Katz can break it down into the simplest of terms. When talking about the innovations we can bring to the travel industry within the next decade, he puts it quite simply. “As travelers, we focus on the whole journey,” he said. “None of us are just focused on the flight or the hotel; it's about the entire journey.” 

That’s an apt place to start a discussion with media luminary, digital innovator, iconoclast, and disruptor, Jeff Katz.