In their report, Disruptive Technologies: advances that will transform life, business, and the global economy, the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) assesses the potential reach and scope, as well as the potential economic impact and disruption of major rapidly advancing technology areas.

They identify 12 technology areas with the potential for massive impact on how people live and work, and on industries and economies. They have also attempted to quantify the potential economic impact of each technology across a set of promising applications in 2025.

The MGI identify three key things – speed, range of impact, and potential scale of economic value, which are represented in the report as follows:-

The technology is rapidly advancing or experiencing breakthroughs. Disruptive technologies typically demonstrate a rapid rate of change in capabilities in terms of price/performance relative to substitutes and alternative approaches, or they experience breakthroughs that drive accelerated rates of change or discontinuous capability improvements.
The potential scope of impact is broad. To be economically disruptive, a technology must have broad reach.
Significant economic value could be affected. An economically disruptive technology must have the potential to create massive economic impact.

The 12 technologies are:

  1. Economic impact is potentially disruptive. Technologies that matter have the potential to dramatically change the status quo.
  2. Mobile Internet: Increasingly inexpensive and capable mobile computing devices and Internet connectivity.
  3. Automation of knowledge work: Intelligent software systems that can perform knowledge work tasks involving unstructured commands and subtle judgments.
  4. Internet of Things: Networks of low-cost sensors and actuators for data collection, monitoring, decision making, and process optimisation.
  5. Cloud technology: Use of computer hardware and software resources delivered over a network or the Internet, often as a service.
  6. Advanced robotics: Increasingly capable robots with enhanced senses, dexterity, and intelligence used to automate tasks or augment humans.
  7. Autonomous and near-autonomous vehicles: Vehicles that can navigate and operate with reduced or no human intervention.
  8. Next-generation genomics: Fast, low-cost gene sequencing, advanced big data analytics, and synthetic biology (“writing” DNA).
  9. Energy storage: Devices or systems that store energy for later use, including batteries.
  10. 3D printing: Additive manufacturing techniques to create objects by printing layers of material based on digital models.
  11. Advanced materials: Materials designed to have superior characteristics (e.g., strength, weight, conductivity) or functionality.
  12. Advanced oil and gas exploration and recovery: Exploration and recovery techniques that make extraction of unconventional oil and gas economical.
  13. Renewable energy: Generation of electricity from renewable sources with reduced harmful climate impact.