VC Investments in Cleantech remain Strong

Well, this is my first time on this blog.  I have worked with Bill for 10 years in IBM where  he writes one of the most successful internal blogs and I was really excited when he authorized me to participate in this blog.  Among emerging trends and opportunities, I am thinking of focusing on Cleantech for a couple reasons.  Beyond my personal interest, this is an opportunity that I can discuss in any job interviews I hope to get over the next few months…  Whether it is hype or reality, people and companies always show interest and understand at least some aspects of it.  VC investments are a good benchmark to measure the potential of emerging technologies.


According to  PWCC / Reuters / National Venture Capital Association data, VC investment cuts were notable in 2008 (-8% in volume, -4% in deal volume) - this was the first year since 2003 that total investments slowed.  The brightest spot was investment in clean energy technologies which increased 52% to $4.1B.  Seven of the 10 largest deals for the year were in this area.  By contrast investments in  Software companies fell 10% and life sciences startups 15%, even though biotech and medical device startups were the top investment sector for 2008. 


Cleantech investment focus is on solar energy and photovoltaic companies which received $1.8B in 2008.  Startups that make energy from other sources, including ethanol and nuclear energy were next, getting $561M or 14% of the total.  Other major investments benefitted companies that recycle chemicals and battery startups. 


A little European pride to finish — Deloitte 2008 Global VC Survey shows that Europe is emerging as a new leader behind the US for Life Sciences and Cleantech — led by Germany and the UK.  Will have to find out where France stands…

CIOL: Top Trends in India for 2009

India is a big part of the future of the IT industry.  I think we all realize that.

I was looking for 2009 trends lists that were specific to India and came upon the CIOL website.  CIOL is short for Cybermedia India Online LImited.  The CIO website http://www.ciol.com focuses on the Information Technology industry within India.  It appears that CIOL has become a popular Internet destination for IT professionals, vendors, solution providers, CIOs and CEOs of Indian enterprises.

The website had a Special Report that provided 2009 outlooks on a number of IT segments.  In many cases, CIOL invited executives from Indian IT vendors to provide their own views of what the important trends will be in the India IT industry during 2009. 

Below you'll find that I've summarized the relevant trends posts on CIOL by by major IT trend category. 

CIO Challenges

Mobility

Security

Outsourcing

Enterprise Technologies

Networking Trends 

Storage Trends 

So those are a bunch of trends posts that CIOL published.  After reading them you can get a good feel for what is important in India during 2009.   If anyone reading this has other good sources of 2009 trends in India, please provide them in the comment section below.  Thanks!

Springboard: India IT Market To Grow At 14% in 2009

Springboard research recently published a list of top trends expected to impact IT spending in India in 2009.  In their press release, Springboard predicts that India’s IT spending is expected to grow at an annual rate of 14.1% in 2009, down from 18.1% growth in 2008.  Springboard says that IT spending in verticals like retail and real estate will be hardest hit, while the advent of 3G and a largely protected financial system will help sustain growth in the telecom and banking/finance verticals respectively.  In addition, government stimulus initiatives to spur economic growth and increase spending on public security and national defense, coupled with rural sector initiatives should include outlays for new technology in the years to come.

India's Top Ten IT Trends

Here is Springboard's list of the top 10 trends in IT spending for India in 2009

  1. Arrival of 3G unlocks enormous opportunities for IT vendors
  2. Cost concerns will drive a key focus on IT infrastructure consolidation
  3. Economic pressures to drive SMBs towards outsourcing and SaaS
  4. Start-ups and smaller firms become more important accounts for IT vendors
  5. Virtualization will gain traction in medium and large sized enterprises
  6. IT outsourcing will be seen as a catalyst to HR retention and cost reductions during the economic squeeze
  7. Media and Entertainment (M&E) industry to transform further with new technologies
  8. Online advertising markets to gain momentum with the emergence of niche social networking sites and regional portals
  9. The Public Sector will buoy IT spending
  10. Green IT will be fueled by cost efficiency benefits

Springboard’s executive brief, “India IT Market Predictions 2009,” is available for free download at Springboard's Research Central (registration required)

India's Top IT Services Vendors

Springboard also recently released a report on the IT Services market in India.  Springboard says that the US$4.8 billion Indian IT Services Market is a highly fragmented and competitive marketplaces.  The top three players, IBM (market share 10.8%), Wipro (market share (8.7%) and TCS (market share 6.1%), took up a quarter share of the market.  According to Springboard’s research, the market in 2008 saw an overall increase in the average deal size of contracts where buyer enterprises are not only using IT vendors as technology providers but as business partners, providing them with means of competitive differentiation.   More information can be found at Top 10 Vendors Grabbed 39% of India’s IT Services Market in 2008, Says Springboard Research

Accenture on Enterprise Cloud Computing

Accenture has been relatively quiet the last 12 months on the subject of Cloud Computing….there's been relatively little from them on this important disruptive trend.   Searching their website, you really can't find much on the topic.  However, I see they have just published a brief on the topic titled  What the Enterprise Needs To Know About Cloud Computing .  The report is fairly basic, providing an overview of the trends, key drivers and inhibitors, along with some recommendations to CIOs. 

Here are some takeaways from the Accenture brief:

  • Accenture's definition of Cloud computing:  "the dynamic provisioning of IT capabilities (hardware, software or services) from third parties over a network"
  • Five Adoption Drivers: 
    1. Maturation of the Internet as an IT platform
    2. Virtualization
    3. Hardware commoditization
    4. Standardization
    5. Open source software
  • Five Obstacles
    1. Security in a shared third-party environment
    2. Data location, compliance and integration issues
    3. Lack of Service-level guarantees
    4. Legacy systems not tied in yet
    5. Procurement not ready for cloud computing
  • Three Steps CIOs should take:
    1. Use the cloud for the right jobs. Accenture recommends public clouds like Amazon EC2 as an inexpensive and flexible alternative.  It says it EC2 and those like it are mature enough for non-business-critical projects including research and development and software development and testing.  Accenture also says that the EC2 and like public clouds are also well suited for computation-intensive jobs such as data cleansing, data mining, risk modeling, optimization and simulation.
    2. Target the right users for cloud applications. Accenture says to switch some workers to lower-cost, cloud-based solutions based on the type of work they do.  It says to consider contact centers and offshore locations.
    3. Take small steps toward an internal cloud.  Accenture says that CIOs should continue to focus on virtualization and datacenter consolidation initiatives and that these initiatives will eventually lead to internal cloud.

For the full brief, download What the Enterprise Needs To Know About Cloud Computing  

My take is that in 2009 we will see increased focus on private enterprise clouds.  This is a perfect time for IT departments to experiment with the cloud service delivery model.  The eventual end of the financial crisis and recession could be a significant lever in the adoption of Cloud Computing.   One of the major benefits of cloud is the agility it offers.  Application development and system provisioning can happen much faster with a cloud infrastructure, allowing business to deploy new capability faster than ever before.  As the recession ends and growth picks up, the companies with the fastest response to the reappearance of market opportunities will be the ones to benefit most—and they are likely to be the ones that are already experienced in deploying and exploiting Cloud solutions.

Nielson: Social Networking Now More Popular Than Email

Do you find yourself spending more and more time on social networking sites?  I sure do.  In fact, social networking is now a more popular online activity than email, according to a new report by market research firm Nielsen Online (see report “Global Faces and Networked Places"). 

One trend that caught my eye was that there is huge growth in the use of social networking sites by those over the age of 35.  So if you think these sites are just for teenagers, you are dead wrong.  The people using these sites are your customers, business partners, and next-door neighbors.  For those of you who have not yet registered on one of these sites, the train has left the station…better get on.

Some key findings from the report include:

  • On average one of every 11 minutes spent online around the world is devoted to social networking and blogging sites. 
  • Two-thirds of the world’s Internet population now regularly visit social networking or blogging sites and these visits account for almost 10% of all Internet time
  • Growth in social networking was three times as fast as the pace of general online growth
  • The top five most popular sites are:
    1. Facebook (108.3 million users)….the average user spends 3 hours and 10 minutes online every month.
    2. MySpace (81 million users)
    3. Classmates Online (19.7 million users),
    4. Orkut (17.5 million users)….70 per cent of online Brazilians are using the Google-owned service.
    5. Linkedin (15 million users). 
  • 2008 time spent at Social Networking sites accounted for one in every 15 online minutes – now it accounts for one in every 11.
    • In Brazil the average is one of every four minutes and in UK it’s one in every six minutes.
  • Social networking isn't only for teenagers as much of the growth is coming from the middle-aged (see graph to the right).  
    • The 35 – 49 year old category on Facebook rose by 24.1 million people last year.
    • Facebook added almost twice as many 50-64 year old visitors (+13.6 million) than it has added under 18 year old visitors (+7.3 million).

After reading these survey results, you really get the feeling that the way people connect, communicate, and collaborate over the Internet is changing dramatically.   Those of us in the workforce will be using these networks to form new relationships with people outside the firewall.  Enterprises should have a strategy in place as to how they are leveraging these networks in all areas of their business.  Social networking will have a significant and disruptive impact on all areas of business communications.

For more information, check out the Nielsen report “Global Faces and Networked Places".  The survey covered data captured from December 2007 through December 2008.

Social Computing as a Disruptive Force

This year I am focused more on researching insights and implications surrounding communities and social media, so I will be writing more often on these topics.  Enterprises are increasingly exploiting web 2.0 to create community-like environments on their websites where customers, partners and employees can discuss and collaborate on anything from support issues to new product ideas.

The last few years, thanks to the Web 2.0 explosion, we have seen the Internet transform from primarily an information dissemination and transactional tool to a communication and social tool.   At the same time, social computing is beginning to transform from a structured collaboration and communication capability to social networking.  Increasingly, major enterprise software vendors are following a similar path, incorporating social computing capabilities such as blogging, discussion forums, unified communications, video sharing and social networks into their enterprise software suites. 

At the same time, consumer-oriented social network sites (e.g. Myspace, Facebook, LinkedIn) continue to evolve into rich platforms where user experiences are further enriched through add-on applications and widgets from third parties.  Eventually, these social platforms will become the next generation portals of people, information and applications.  For many enterprises, social computing will represent a major disruptive force because it breaks down the traditional management system hierarchies and organizational boundaries, leading to more open, dynamic collaboration.

Leading edge enterprises will see this disruptive force as an opportunity to invest in social computing capabilities in order to build the capabilities they will need to be successful in the future.   The problem with communities and social networking is that it has a soft ROI, which makes it hard to convince management to make investments in time, money and resources.   

Early enterprise adopters are exploring the use of social networking and community collaboration tools in order to develop pools of subject matter expertise that can enable smoother flows of knowledge within (and external to) an organization, reducing human latency and increasing efficiency.   Quick access to the shared community knowledgebase, on demand community member profiles, and a persistent chat facility will allow queries to be settled quickly and efficiently, without having to send emails, schedule conference calls, or set up face-to-face meetings.  One implication of all this is that I expect email to continue to decline in use, as compared to other modes of online communication, such as texting, IM, twittering, and member profile status updates. 

So what will all this focus by employees on internal and external communities, social media, and social networking mean to enterprises?  I believe it is a disruptive workforce trend.   Management teams that are still holding on to the old command-control systems of the past will have a hard time adapting.  Those management teams that understand the power of communities and social networking need to take the leadership and invest in building capabilities now to leverage this disruptive trend.

Like I said at the top of this post, I will be focusing on researching social computing and communities in 2009.  In addition to helping our teams better understand how to launch and sustain communities, we will also help them learn how to extract insights and business value from their communities and from the social media in general.

Technology Review: 10 Emerging Technologies

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Technology Review has released its annual report on 10 Emerging Technologies of 2009.   I always look forward to this article for it consistently reports on the interesting work going on in labs and academic institutions.  The articles also provide a human element, telling us the person behind the work…how they have worked hard to innovate in the field they are researching.

The 10 emerging technologies MIT presents in this article have the potential to create fundamental shifts in areas from energy to healthcare, computing to communications.  Some of the listed technologies could reach the market within the year, others may take years, but all are expected to have a huge impact in the years ahead.  All of them are interesting to read and think about.  Here the list along with lots of links for more information.

  1. Liquid Battery:  Donald Sadoway, a materials chemistry professor at MIT, has developed a liquid battery that could store enough electricity to allow cities to run on solar power at night.   For more information:  Liquid Battery  
  2. Traveling-wave Reactor:  John Gilleland, manager of nuclear programs at Intellectual Ventures, is leading the development of a reactor that would run on depleted uranium, making nuclear power safer and less expensive.   For more information:  Traveling Wave Reactor 
  3. Paper Diagnostic Test:   George Whitesides, a professor at Harvard University, is using paper to create easy-to-use medical tests that could make it possible to quickly and cheaply diagnose a range of diseases in the developing world.   For more information:  Paper Diagnostics 
  4. Biological Machines: Michel Maharbiz, an assistant professor at the University of California, Berkeley, has developed interfaces between machines and living systems that could give rise to a new generation of cyborg devices.  Michel's wirelessly controlled beetle could one day be used for surveillance or search-and-rescue missions.   For more information:  Biological Machines 
  5. $100 Genome:  Han Cao, founder of BioNanomatrix, has designed a nanofluidic chip that could dramatically lower the cost of genome analysis.  Cao's chip could cut DNA sequencing costs dramatically.  Combined with the right sequencing technology, Cao’s chip could allow doctors to tailor medical treatment to a patient’s unique genetic profile, map new genes linked to specific diseases, and quickly identify new viruses and outbreaks.   For more information:  $100 Genome 
  6. Racetrack Memory:  IBM fellow Stuart Parkin has created an entirely new type of data storage on an ultradense memory chip using magnetic nanowires.  This “racetrack memory” could eventually replace all other forms of computer memory and lead to tiny, rugged, and inexpensive portable devices.   For more information:  Racetrack Memory   
  7. HashCache:  Vivek Pai, a computer scientist at Princeton University, has created a new method for storing Web content that could make Internet access speedier and more affordable around the world.   For more information:  HashCache 
  8. Intelligent Software Assistant:  Adam Cheyer, cofounder of the Silicon Valley startup Siri, is leading the design of powerful new software that acts as a personal aide.  This virtual personal-assistant software helps users interact more effectively with Web services to complete tasks such as booking travel or finding entertainment.   For more information:  Intelligent Software Assistant  
  9. Software-Defined Networking:  Stanford computer scientist Nick McKeown believes that remotely controlling network hardware with software can bring the Internet up to speed.   He has developed a standard called OpenFlow that allows researchers to tap into Internet switches and routers to easily test new networking technologies with the click of a mouse—all without interrupting normal service.   For more information:  Software-Defined Networking 
  10. Nanopiezotronics:  Zhong Lin Wang, a materials scientist at Georgia Tech, is pioneering the field of nanopiezotronics.  Wang is creating piezoelectric nanowires that generate electricity using tiny environmental vibrations; he believes they could power implantable medical devices and serve as tiny sensors.   For more information:  Nanopiezoelectronics 

Some of this year's choices, such as #3 – paper-based medical tests and #8 – Intelligent software that acts as a personal assistant, could reach the market within a year.  Others, like #4 – biological machines and #10 nanopiezotronics, could take longer but promise fundamental shifts in fields from computing to medicine, communications to manufacturing.  Its worth noting that three of the technologies are nanotechnology-based:  #5, #6, and #10.

For more information, see Technology Review's article 10 Emerging Technologies of 2009 .  Also the prior year's articles are also interesting to read