November 13, 2004

7th Annual Top Ten Technology Trends

On 9 November some of the techno-industry's leading (and, as I found out, very opinionated) luminaries debated what technology trends would emerge during the year ahead at an event organized by Silicon Valley’s Churchill Club. That day, I spend my dinnertime at Fairmont Hotel in San Jose attending 7th Annual Top Ten Technology Trends sponsored by the Churchill Club ( http://www.churchillclub.org/index.jsp ). It’s an interesting event, less due to the accuracy of the forecasts and more due to the personalities and opinions of the major speakers.

This year the speakers were John Doerr [JD] partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (introduced also as a member of the board of “something called Google”), Esther Dyson [ED] editor at large at CNET Networks, Roger McNamee [RM] co-founder and managing director of Silver Lake Partners & Integral Capital Partners (also introduced as author of “New Normal” book) and Joe Schoendorf [JS] partner at Accel Partners. The moderator was Tony Perkins [TP], creator and editor-in-chief of AlwaysOn.com (I also remember him from prior incarnations of Red Herring).

The evening started with the review of last year’s Top Ten Technology Trends. I was amazed how far some of the predictions were from the reality this year (although some of them may still come true in the future). For example, [JS] commented on [JD]’s prediction for 2004 of personalized (based on your gene makeup) medicines: “not now, maybe way in the future.”

Format of the event:
- presentation of the prediction by its author
- short discussion among the panelists
- followed by voting using green (agree) and red (disagree) signs held by everybody (including the audience)

Disclaimer: I type with two fingers (I know, I need to take typing class :-)) hence some of the phrases attributed to the presenters may be incomplete and may not reflect completely the intentions of the people associated with it in my notes.

Next Year’s (2005) predictions were:

1. Presented by [JD] “The NextWeb. Ten years after the first web browser we’re witnessing incredible innovation and systemic rethinking/reinvention in important web services, e.g. Google/search, commerce, personalization, even browsers. Has the Internet been under hyped?”
[JD]: It is true. I remember “aha moment” when the first web browser appeared. We have moved several paces since then. At first we had services based on personalization, then self-service web sites. At this point, we are approaching nirvana where info is available everywhere. We are getting a sense of community. Search is everywhere. This trend has a long way to run.
[JS]: Early on, we say this will change the world. We wait and nothing happens at first. Then it fails. Later it takes off and the result is so much bigger than we ever imagined.
[ED]: It will be invisible
[RM]: Full duplex
[ED]: At first it’s content then you get applications
[RM]: [Too much] venture money is going to fund community work
[JD]: Bill Joy (Sun’s founder) explained to [JD] his view of nextWEB categories – near web (your pc), far web (your TV), near web (local), is-this-what-you-mean web, b2c web, smart dust web
Voting: The attendees agreed with John (voting green)

2. Presented by [ED] “The Personal Electronic Health Record (PEHR) will be a big deal, and a lot of business will coalesce around it. It will foment new apps for data sharing and protection, domain-specific health-oriented search and the like”
[ED]: emerging business opportunity for providers, employers, clinics; patient is missing it so far; there will be demand from patients to see PEHRs just like they need to see their financial records. Yahoo and Google mentioned
[JS]: inertia against it will work against it (but it should happen)
Vote: mixed red and green (disagreement, over the future)

3. Presented by [RM] “Enterprise. There will no major waves of enterprise technology spending equivalent to Windows (early 90s), ERP (mid-90s) or Y2K (late 90s) for at least five years. - The focus of enterprise technology spending over the next few years will be on operating cost savings, not competitive advantage - one of the biggest opportunities for near term cost savings will be technology spending itself”
[RM]: we are in a period between the big waves; companies are spending money to build their own as opposed to buying
[ED]: huge wave of do it yourself
[JS]: do you remember 1990-91 when we said PCs are maxed out; that in 2-3 years we’ll enter new golden age; what we’ve done so far in the enterprise almost reaches end-of-life and will need to be replaced; DB spends money on maintenance; eBay – IT structure is obsolete
[JD]: morally equivalent to saying that the future is in internet with web services; agree most IT budget is tied up in legacy systems; my partners and I make investment in web services to increase revenue; e.g., social net system to call on your customers
[ED]: not a single wave; lots of local storms
[RM]: we will be in build world; in 5 years, you’ll see new product wave. Now IT budgets are 2.8% versus 5% in the past.
[ED]: vendors will make real money
Vote: mixed red and green (more red)

4. Presented by [JS] “China: The Next Global Innovation Leader. We tend to look at China today the same way we did Japan in the 50's 60's and early 70's - a great source of low cost labor. China, even more so than Japan is poised to become a global leader in inventing the next big thing. Why, what, when?”
[JS]: [survey: who visited China? Most of the attendees] China is the major competitor to Silicon Valley; 2000 year history of intellectual achievements; lots of PhDs graduating in China and US; comparing to Israelis who went back to start lots of companies; we are now in the cusp where Japan was in 70s and 80s. We’ll be surprised in a year by innovation coming from China.
[JD]: will China invent something in 2-3 years? What is that?
[JS]: I cannot tell you that, but they have so many experiments
[ED]: two things to notice. First, it’s less important where the next innovation comes from (but statistics favors China). Second they have huge scale that allows them to set standards
[JD]: what’s the next big thing?
[RM]: Patriot Act forces smart foreign-born people to go home – it’s the single stupidest thing [applause]
[JS]: disagrees – they went back because of the opportunity; he worries about two groups going against Cisco 24 hours a day
[JS]: more people in China have cell phones than people in this country (this will set the standards)
Vote: mixed but green prevailing.

5. Presented by [TP] “Mainstream media & entertainment will relent to the Open Source Media Revolution, and allow more online content participation (e.g. Blogging, uploading of music and video) and greater transparency and collaboration of members (i.e. online social networking). This will provide a mini-boom for new content creators and blogging and social networking tools and application developers.”
[TP]: evidence: 4.5M blog sites; 5th wave of media watching 4th wave (e.g., Dan Rather, NYT editor, etc..) Mainstream media and entertainment
[RM]: if you said it 2 years ago it would have been brilliant, but by now it already happened
[JS]: which media will go only web (or which media company will fail because they don’t get it)?
[ED]: this trend is similar to enterprise trend
[RM]: based on the crap they show, it’s amazing that network TV is watched by so many people
[TP]: no one’s making money in blogging; no one is making money in social networking; editors will have to open up to people
Vote: mixed

6. Presented by [JD] “Stem Cells Rock (and divide, and differentiate). California will lead the world with research into embryonic stem cells, eventually leading to new therapies for many diseases. We’ll learn the intricate networks and signaling involved in hundreds of cell types, with breakthroughs through exquisite drug intervention and cellular therapies for intractable diseases.”
[JS]: what’s the time frame?
[JD]: proof of concept – spinal cord, type 2 diabetes, heart muscle. California will lead the world. The most pro-life thing we can do is to take couple hundred embryos
[JS]: we live in the valley where complexity takes time, but I worry that even in 2010 we’ll see no results. It’s up to us to set expectation that it will impact people’s kids [not them]. We should spend the money.
Vote: sea of green

7. Presented by [ED] “Cell-Phone Text Messaging. Americans will start to use cell-phone text messaging for a variety of tasks, and vendors/service providers will jump into the game, for everything from personalized marketing to drug compliance ("did you remember to take your pill at 7 pm?")”
[ED]: US are way behind Europe and China. The Internet changes geography. The link between people, events is virtual. There’s a change in time perception: “I’ll tell you on Fri where I am” (as opposed to “I’m planning to be at…”). Huge amount of text (SMS) applications: e.g., credit card fraud detection, find where your kid is, local mobile applications will change your life significantly
[JD]: mentioned Google SMS
Vote: green

8. Presented by [RM] “Consumer technology (and content) that targets people over 30 will be more successful than products targeting younger people.”
[RM]: media is no longer location based (proliferation of playback places); demographic of consumption is such that people over 30 have money
[JD]: if Roger said 27.5, I’d agree with him (average age of book buyer 40, movie 22, music 20, video games 25, iTunes? High-30s)
[JS]: in China, gaming services on mobile will be big

9. Presented by [JS] “Digital Living. Everything you own at home is obsolete. Throw it all out. TV'S, Stereos, CD's, DVD and all your cables. Store content once - use anywhere.”
[JS]: this valley created many of the most interesting markets that ever existed; for the rest of our life the next entrepreneurs will have to think globally; fundamentally everything goes wireless, then you’ll see significant changes. For example, next year’s MP3 players in cars will sync with you home wi-fi; in Jan CES you’ll see many products related to it
[RM]: no chance you’ll do it (related to throwing out originals of your pictures)
Vote: mixed (mostly green)

10. Presented by [TP] “A cultural move to the IT as a “utility” model (e.g. NetSuite, Salesforce.com, Sun’s new push to run your server room) in computing which will help keep the IT business growing overall. This trend will be driven by the continued virtualization of the workforce; where workers require web access to all business processes from anywhere at anytime, and the cost savings value of this kind of arrangement.”
[TP]: everything that I need is on the Internet. When I pay the phone bill I don’t worry about hardware or software, so why do I need to worry about hardware and software used by IT
No time to vote

Posted by marek at November 13, 2004 08:58 AM