Disruptive Innovation: The emerging sectors applying digital technologies

While digital technologies have continued to evolve, certain industries have had to adapt their cultures to continue innovating successfully. Financial institutions, insurers, real estate companies and regulators have found themselves playing catchup, as skill sets and mindsets have proved insufficient for getting the best out of the cloud, data science, AI and other capabilities. But the emergence and evolution of disruptive innovation sectors have enabled companies to leverage digital to keep up with competition.

Many of the use cases present in these industries were especially prominent at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, as people worked remotely, as well as obtaining services from home. Below is a guide to some of the most prominent emerging sectors of disruptive innovation, exploring how they came about and some of the biggest trends in each space.


Education technology, or Edtech, entails digital capabilities that disrupt education sector operations, from teaching materials to student experience. In 2021, the space was globally valued at $254.8 billion, and is projected to reach $605.40 billion by 2027. The sector is not only innovating learning in schools and universities, but also independent adult learning, which saw increased activity and investment as flexible working has allowed for diversified daily routines.

Notable companies dealing in Edtech capabilities range from independent online course providers such as Coursera and Udacity, to classroom tools such as ClassDojo and Socrative.

With the space seeing a surge in cloud involvement, including communication tools, to facilitate remote learning, Edtech looks set to continue manifesting itself in the form of AI-powered learning tools, and immersive tech hardware, among other capabilities. Meanwhile, cyber security tools are being implemented to keep educational infrastructures protected from rising cyber attacks on the sector.


The impact of Edtech in the education sector — Exploring the impact that Edtech is having in the education sector

Edtech trends for the near future — exploring the biggest trends that will emerge over the coming years

How Edtech can bring the digital consumer experience to schools and MATs — Winston Poyton, senior product director for education at IRIS Software Group, discusses how digital consumer experiences can be delivered by Edtech to schools and multi-academy trusts (MATs)


Arguably the largest and longest-standing of the four industries in this list, financial technology, or Fintech, dates back to the beginning of credit and debit card usage, which led to the emergence of ATMs. From here, disruptive innovation across financial services has encapsulated multiple trends that are surging to the fore today.

One such trend is the surfacing of online-native banks, such as Monzo and Starling Bank, which have allowed people to securely organise their finances from anywhere. This capability has become even more important as lockdowns have been enforced by governments worldwide during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The sector has also seen a rise in cryptocurrency investment, as well as online marketplaces seeing increasing crypto activity in recent times. Powered by blockchain, much of the appeal of cryptocurrencies has come from its decentralised nature, and there is talk of monetary means such as Bitcoin being used to purchase vehicles, among other mainstream products, in the near future.

According to the Market Data Forecast, the global Fintech market is expected to reach around $305 billion by 2025, growing at a compound rate of around 22.2%. The study cites that the growth of e-commerce will correlate with the continued surge, while companies in the space will look to take advantage of robotic process automation (RPA), chatbots and distributed ledger technology (DLT). What’s more, investors in the Fintechs of the future will be on the lookout for strong leadership and partnerships, as well as more unique USPs.


Fintech disruption trends — A changing payment landscape on the horizon

The role of data analytics in Fintech — This article will explore the role of data analytics in Fintech operations, as the disruptive innovation space continues to grow


Believed to have emerged around 2010, Insurtech has brought disruptive innovation to the insurance sector, enabling companies in the industry to sort through customer data quicker, and provide a more efficient and intuitive service. A report from CB Insights revealed that Insurtechs raised $2.1 billion in Q4 2020, and the global market has been valued at $2.72 billion.

The use of automation and the cloud within Insurtech has allowed for the saving of costs, and a continuation of service amidst COVID-19, as offices closed down. While migrating to the cloud has enhanced data strategy and security, AI has allowed insurers to gain relevant customer information more quickly when examining claims, leading to a more seamless consumer experience.

Signs of digital technologies throughout Insurtech evolving have manifested themselves in companies such as  Superscript becoming registered brokers for banks such as Lloyd’s, which has led to an expansion of portfolios and customer bases.


Insurtech disruption trends — Is traditional insurance broken?

The impact of big data on the insurance industry — Dan Keeley, head of data engineering at challenger insurer hubb, spoke to Information Age about the impact that big data has on insurance


Property technology, or Proptech, has been disrupting the real estate space, allowing for the buying, renting and selling of properties online. Like other industries on this list, Proptech companies have been vital for maintaining operations during lockdown as company headquarters closed their doors.

Landlords and homeowners can securely list properties on an online market via a website or app, and in more recent times have been able to upload virtual viewings. Meanwhile, data analytics and algorithms powered by AI have allowed users to see what properties would be best for them. Additionally, platforms such as PlanetRent offer centralised portals for hosting relevant documents and details in one place.

Proptech, and indeed real estate, also encompasses offices, and demand for companies in this area of the sector have been in high demand due to the need for organisations to move to smaller spaces, or leave the office altogether. Here, users can view office listings and make transactions online.

The sector is considered to have initially taken off around the mid-2000’s in the wake of the dot.com boom, with funding in the space reaching $7.1 billion in 2021.


Proptech disruption trends — Innovation in the real estate space

How connected tech can help property developers reach net zero — Matthew Margetts, director of sales and marketing at Smarter Technologies, discusses how connected tech can help property developers to reach net zero


Emerging in the wake of the introduction of Project Innovate from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in 2014, Regtech, short for regulatory technology, has brought disruptive innovation in the form of easing the process of meeting regulatory requirements. With failures to meet regulations proving costly, organisations have had to spend substantial amounts of time on ensuring compliance. But digital capabilities have made these procedures quicker to implement, while increasing agility.

Regtech enables organisations to enhance processes around meeting regulations, which have constantly evolved globally over the years when it comes to data. Regtech companies have leveraged the cloud, data science and AI in order to facilitate policy management, identity verification and transaction monitoring, among other important operations.

Anti-money laundering, which leverages data science to analyse user behaviours and detect possible anomalies, is also a notable service offered by Regtech firms. This is often aided by machine learning and RPA, which ensure that any suspicious behaviour can be detected at any time, as well as facilitating risk scoring.

Found to have accumulated $4.9 billion in revenue in 2018, the global Regtech market is projected to reach a value of $55.28 billion by 2025.


Regtech disruption trends — How digitisation is enhancing regulatory processes

How do businesses adapt to the rising tide of data regulation? — Mark Keddie, global director of privacy at Veritas Technologies, discusses how businesses can adapt to the rising tide of data regulation

Avatar photo

Aaron Hurst

Aaron Hurst is Information Age's senior reporter, providing news and features around the hottest trends across the tech industry.

Related Topics

Digital Disruption