301: Why Now For Disruptive Innovation? | "The Switch" With ARK Invest

This season of “The Switch” is focused on discussing the case for disruptive innovation. In this episode, hosts Cathie Wood, CEO of ARK Invest, and ETF Trends’ CEO Tom Lydon and CIO Dave Nadig discuss why disruptive innovation is important now.

There are currently five innovation platforms that are developing simultaneously; historically, the most that have coincided have been three — namely, telephone, automobile and electricity in the early 1900s. Today’s innovations are artificial intelligence, energy storage, robotics, genome sequencing, and blockchain technology, and all are set to have pivotal impacts on their industries and the larger economy.

“Five platforms evolving with 14 underlying technologies, all of which are gaining traction and are going to deliver exponential growth; we’ve never seen this amount of change, ever,” Wood explains.

Not only are the individual innovations within themselves remarkable, but the ways that the technologies all interact with each other are creating “explosive” growth and opportunity.

Wood is no stranger to innovation; she explains that her love and fascination for innovation was one that was inspired in childhood from her father, an immigrant from Ireland who went on to work in radar systems in the Air Force.

Her recognition of the possibilities for disruptive innovation came later, in 2012, in a moment of pure inspiration in which she knew that she both wanted to build her own company based around disruptive innovation but also be a force of disruption within the financial sector by offering access to research for free.

History Repeats Itself

When looking at the changes that the pandemic has brought to the arena of innovation, Wood said, “I think what’s happened is the creative destruction that is the other side of disruptive innovation is happening much faster than otherwise would have been the case.” She believes this is because of the large number of difficulties and problems that cropped up because of the pandemic and businesses’ fears brought about by economic shutdown and a world changed by the coronavirus.

This is a catalyst that has played out in history before, back in the early 20th century with the invention of the telephone, electricity, and the automobile, courtesy of the combustion engine. Wood explained that before 1918, there had been great resistance to these innovations and the potential for changes that they brought; after 1918 and the Spanish Flu that killed anywhere between 25–50 million people globally, however, there was an explosion of innovation as people embraced the technologies.

Today, that level of change and the effects felt by innovation is particularly clear within the work environment. With the advent of Zoom meetings and technology-driven remote working, Wood believes that these are changes that are here to stay.

“I think it will be very important for talent retention and talent attraction to have a hybrid workplace, or working style,” going forward, she said. It has brought about a great quality-of-life improvement as workers are no longer having to commute long distances, and she thinks it will be a permanent change.

“This is certainly adding to my productivity, and I think our firm’s productivity,” Wood said, and it is just one area that innovation is impacting in today’s world.

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