In this interesting paper ‘Uberization: will the empire strike back?‘ the authors analyze the fear of getting disrupted (also know as getting ‘uberized’) that stress many traditional actors. They show however that it is generally a trend in a new type of intermediation (brokering), and not the disappearance of intermediation per se: “The market – like the nature of yore – abhors a vacuum. Very often, de-intermediation is just a phase of re-intermediation.”
Many consider the emergence of services like Uber as a kind of de-intermediation between consumers and providers. But in reality, it is about providing a new, upgraded intermediation capability that creates much value – it will include powerful algorithms and sometimes Artifical Intelligence to best suit our needs to what can be provided. Already Amazon is a model of an upgraded intermediation with its recommendations. Uber creates a new intermediation capability in the field of personal mobility. In both cases it gives a way for certain marginal providers to make their product available to a wider public, while under the previous infrastructure they were not sufficiently interesting to be considered by the intermediation system.
Nothing new under the sun then – the Fourth Revolution just gives us a new distributed power and communication system that allows a much more powerful intermediation to be implemented between consumers and promoters. It does disrupt traditional actors, only if they do not recognize that monopolies are here to be broken.