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Churchill Club, Top 10 Tech Trends

November 11, 2004

Last year this was a great event. They discussed 12 trends. By my count, they went 5 for 12, but had some direct hits that were not obvious last year. This year was less interesting, and very poorly produced.

But anyway, here are the trends with my thoughts as well. Keep in mind these are supposed to come true in the next 2-3 years.

1. Doerr – NextWeb. See my post on Web 2.0 conference below. General agreement among the panelists. Doerr singled out Blogging and RSS twice.
Of course I agree, I am betting my career here.

2. Dyson – Personal Electronic Health Records emerge and create opportunities for data sharing, protection and search. Panel was skeptical.
This happening in 2-3 years is laughable. When the boomers retire and taxpayers are hit with the triple whammy (shrinking number of taxpayers, increased number of retires, and escalating healthcare costs) maybe there will be enough force to break through the inertia. We are still 15-30 years away from this happening.

3. McNamee – There will be no major waves of enterprise technology spending equivalent to Windows, Y2K or ERP for 5 years. He elaborated to say that the next big trend will be Web Services, but today we do not even understand the processes we need to automate. Thus we are in a DIY period for IT. Investors in public software companies will suffer. Panel disagreed. Doerr – web services are happing today. Schoendorf – this is a bullish sign, next 2-3 years will be a golden age.
Disagreeing with McNamee is perilous, but I will. We are through the dry spell. Companies are looking to IT to drive competitive advantage and IT is looking to vendors, particularly start-ups. In our corner of the world, we see revenue being generated and processes being automated with RSS everyday.

4. Schoendorf – China is the next global innovator. China is the first big threat to the quality of life of Silicon Valley. The panel disagreed mostly due to timing reasons.
I agree strongly. I particularly like the second sentence. Currently the Valley leads the world in entrepreneurship. As a result, many people of modest talent and work ethic enjoy a fabulous quality of life. As China asserts its scale and people advantages, this will change. To stay on top, leading companies must work with Chinese nationals, not just to leverage low cost labor, but to do R&D, and to open a new market. Else our children will inherit a world with the majority of the global 2000 companies being Chinese companies.

5. Perkins – Mainstream media and entertainment will relent to the “Open Source Media Revolution” leading to a mini-boom for content creators, blogging and social networking tools and application developers. He elaborates to say that any media company that does not open up to sharing, collaboration, and transparency will not have consumers trust and will parish. Panel felt this happened last year.
I agree, but the boom will be in attention paid, not in revenue or profits.

6. Doerr – Stem Cells will be a medical revolution and California will lead it. Panel agreed, but felt it will take more than 2-3 years.
I don’t follow this market, but I hope he is right.

7. Dyson – Cell Phone text messaging will boom in America and be used for many new applications including personalized marketing and drug compliance. Panel agreed.
I think SMS text messaging is still too hard. When Treo 600 type functionality is bundled with service, mobile applications will explode.

8. McNamee – Consumer Technology and Content that targets people over 30 will be more successful than products that target younger people. He sites demographic trends, average iTunes users being over 30, Finding Nemo being the number one selling DVD and the fact that those under 30 do not buy but share/steal. Panel disagreed. Doerr did a scholarly job of refuting and Schoendorf noted that globally this is ridiculous.
I disagree that it will be more successful, but it is worth noting that there are lots of tech savvy folks over 30 for the first time in human history.

9. Schoendorf – Digital Living – Throw out your TV, DVDs, CDs and Stereo because it is all obsolete. From here is will all be stored in one place and transmitted wirelessly. Panel was mixed. Doerr thinks no one would trust this job to Windows. Dyson felt sharing will drive this trend.
I agree, but sadly, my wife doesn’t.

10. Perkins – A cultural move to IT as a utility in computing will keep the IT business growing. Panel agreed.
Obviously the panel has never sold a service to IT. This is a complex and long term trend that has more to do with the IT department’s employee incentive system, than to do with technology.

Last year they had audience participation at the end. I wrote down “RSS revolutionizes communication,” They did not read it. But it’s still my top pick. As Dave Winer says, if you don’t have some apprehension about pushing the publish button, you are not doing a good job of blogging. Time will tell who is right.


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