Churchill Club: 13th Annual List Of Top 10 Tech Trends

Last week the Silicon Valley was abuzz as The Churchill Club held their annual Top 10 Tech Trends event in Santa Clara.  The annual event is much anticipated by the Silicon Valley crowd….as well as VC-types as it can provide an interesting perspective on what the future might hold for the software industry. 

As always, I have my radar up to capture any insights I can from events like these. I could not attend the event, but thanks to some bloggers and news articles, I am able to report what was discussed.

As the 10 trends were presented, four leading industry panelists were on stage to debate the worthiness of each trend.

Below is a list of the ten trends on the Churchill Club’s list along with my take on the pace of adoption of each trend.    From sources I’ve read, the panelists themselves only agreed on a couple of the trends. Which ones do you agree on?

1) Age before beauty:  This trend asserts that the Baby boomer generation will dictate the technology trends of the future.  The premise is that this is such a large market that is largely unserved today. 

  • My take: I don’t agree.  Although the retired population is a largely untapped market, it is not one that gets excited about technology trends.  They are not digital natives.  I don’t see my parents flocking to buy the latest Ipad or the latest 3D TV.

2) The doctor is in: The trend is toward complete automation: a combination of artificial intelligence, the Internet, and very low-cost medical instrumentation to provide high-quality diagnostics and advice—including answering patient questions—online to a worldwide audience.  

  • My take:  I see this trend happening, but the focus will be first on specialized medicine.  The trend will be very slow to adopt to a mass market.  Privacy, culture, and behavioral issues will make changing over to online medial practices a long road.  

3) Made for me:   Manufacturing is undergoing a revolution. This trend is about the one-off production of physical goods in widely distributed micro-factories: the ultimate customization of products.  It is becoming technically and economically possible to make products that are unique to the specific needs of individuals.   

  • My take:  Consumers and Businesses are all expecting more and more customization of products and services.  The enabler of this trend for product manufacturing is the 3D printer technology trend.  For services, it is the software and advanced analytics that drive Internet-based services. 

4) Pay me now: The trend is technology and business models based on attracting consumers to share large amounts of information exclusively with service providers.  Why?  Because information can be very valuable. This knowledge is becoming a key asset and a major competitive advantage for the companies that gather it and analyze it.  Businesses will become increasingly smarter and more aggressive in convincing us to share our information with them and not with their competitors  

  • My take:  I am not sure about the name of this trend here, but this all ties into the trends of privacy, cloud computing / storage, and database analytics trends.  Businesses who figure out how to use analytics to make sense of all the information they gather will know better how to target and customize services to individuals that are most likely to buy.

5) Rosie at last: Rosie was the Jetson’s robot who did most everything for the Jetsons and even had a personality anyone could love.  Robots ARE slowly becoming embedded in our environments.  They will take full advantage of the cloud and advanced analytics in order to anticipate, understand and fulfill our needs. 

  • My take:  I do see a future for personal robots. See my post:  A Primer on the Consumer Market for Household Robots.  This will be another long term trend.  We are not going to see explosive growth overnight.  However, there will be a gigantic industry in the future all around the robot and robot Industry … both for consumers and businesses.

6) Social, really: The rise of true social networks, creating real respectful relationships online. 

  • My take:  The key here is the word relationships.  The value of social technology is it can enable better relationships.  If businesses can find ways to leverage social technology to form better relationships, then their sales will benefit.

7) Augmented Reality: Augmented reality will become indistinguishable from actual reality. 

  • My take:  AR will transform how we receive and process information throughout the day.  The AR trend will take another 15-25 years to take hold in the mass market, but it will take allot longer (1-200 years) to get to the point where AR is indistinguishable from actual reality.

8) Engineering by biologists: practical engineered artifacts, devices, and computers based on biology rather than just on silicon. 

  • My take:  This is all about the convergence of computers, biology, chemistry, and nanotechnology.  This is another of the long-term trends that will have profound impacts on human lives over the next 200-300 years, but I don’t see much impact in the next 25 years.  

9) Tis a gift to be simple: Cyber defense through wide spread adoption of simple, low-feature software for consumers and businesses. 

  • My take:  The security industry is secure.  That is, the need for security solutions will only increase as technology becomes embedded in every part of our business and personal lives.  While these solutions may look simple and low-featured, there will be a huge technology capability under the covers.

10) Reverse innovation: the trend for developing countries to turn around the flow of innovation: Silicon Valley will begin to learn more from them about innovative applications than they need to learn from us about underlying technology. 

  • My take:  History has shown us that innovation (agriculture, industrial, military, technology) leads to good things.  The quest for innovation will always be an important part of the human journey.  Successful businesses must ensure they enable innovation daily, whether that innovation happens in America Valley or in BRIC or in other emerging markets.

For more information about the Churchill Club event

Slides: How IBM Enables A Social Workforce

This week I have been attending WOMMA’s School of WOM in Chicago.  The conference started on Monday and wraps up today.  There have some great keynotes, workshops, and breakout sessions.  I’d estimate roughly that there are about 300 attendees.

On Monday, Susan Emerick of IBM (@sfemerick), Chris Boudreaux of Converseon (@cboudreaux) and I presented during a breakout.  Our presentation, “Enabling the Social Workforce” discussed how IBM has been able to enable thousands of employees to participate in social media.  At IBM, employees are such an extension of our brand and it is important that IBMers represent our brand in the social media.

Most businesses are finding it challenging to mobilize employees in social media on behalf of the brand.  For years prior to the social media explosion, IBM had focused on enabling IBMers to collaborate internally via collaboration tools.  As social media took off on the public Internet, IBM has, in turn, successfully enabled thousands of employees to participate in the social media conversation. 

The presentation (loaded on slideshare and then embedded below) discusses how IBM advances the goals of the business while growing the professional influence of the employee. The key to enablement for IBM is focusing on empowering the workforce to communicate their strategic expertise socially.  Our presentation and the Q&A session afterwards covered important program elements like

  • Developing the Digital Strategy Model
  • Publishing and Communicating Social Media Guidelines
  • Developing a Social Computing Curriculum that includes certification-based training
  • An Expertise Locator system that helps aid in the search and discovery of IBM experts
  • IBM’s Centennial Program that enables social conversations.

Leveraging Social Media and Communities for Foresight

Last Wednesday evening I delivered a keynote presentation at an end of the year student event at the University of Notre Dame’s Mendozza College of Business MBA program (http://business.nd.edu/). 

Mendozza Keynote

The students are all required to take a class in Futures Studies and this was their end of year event.  During the late afternoon Poster Session that was held in the atrium of the Mendozza building, they all assembled and displayed posters that communicated the results of their semester long projects.  The topics covered a wide variety of subjects, from the future of Electric Cars to Solar Technology, to how to solve water irrigation in Africa.   In all there were over 50 projects from teams of 4-5 students.   I was impressed with the students projects and the level of research, analysis and insight generation that went into the poster presentations.   I learned a lot just by walking from poster to poster.

After the poster session was done, we all assembled into the auditorium where I delivered my keynote to the students “Leveraging Social Media and Communities for Foresight”.  The deck has been uploaded to my HorizonWatching account on Slideshare and is also embedded below. 

During the keynote, I discussed how the emergence of online social media and communities is transforming communication around the world.  The shift from traditional institutional-led communications that is relatively controlled by a small number of companies to an era where any individual can create and publish content is a shift that is transforming the way individuals learn, collaborate, and create content.   This has a ripple effect across all business professionals and certainly is impacting the way we research, analyze and develop insights about emerging trends, technologies and issues impacting businesses and individual citizens.

I provide the students with my personal story of how I’ve led an internal IBM community called HorizonWatch since early 2001 and how I started blogging internally in 2006.  I also discussed my public social community effort called HorizonWatching.   Both efforts have helped me do a better job of scanning for emerging trends and then developing insights from those scanning activities.

I ended the talk with some advice to the students on how they could get started leveraging social media in their own careers.  My main advice was that they should all think about taking control of their personal online brand.  As they are soon to turn their attention to job searching, now is the time for them to think hard about what their digital brand looks like to recruiters and potential employers.  But after the job search is over, I believe those who will be successful in their careers are the ones that will figure out ways to leverage social media and communities to build their expertise.

As this was their last day of class, they were all eager to go out and celebrate, so the Q&A session was short and sweet.  However the 5-6 questions raised were smart and right on topic.  I wish all the students good luck and best wishes over the summer and challenge them to begin using social media and communities as a strategy to better understand the future(s).

My presentation is embedded below.