24 Feb Industry Veterans discuss the "next big thing"
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Panelists at the Demo 2003 conference offered a reality check and insights into the next technology innovations. Products featured at DEMO sessions focused on products in the search, productivity, security, spam, and entertainment categories.
The panelists, who are leading technologists discussed how the prospect of a “next big thing” might be “today’s big thing,” Wi-Fi Networks, Open Source and Web Bloggers. They were upbeat about the beginning of a technology rebound. Their view of the IT industry’s commitment to innovation, was highlighted by a debate on how Wi-Fi and distributed networks are technologies, that will continue spur investment.
John Patrick, President of the Venture Capital firm Attitude, and former Executive VP of IBM’s Internet Group, cited the emergence of wi-fi and distributed networks and technologies that can deliver wireless data to speeding trains at 100 mph. He predicts that cell phones, PDA’s and other devices will all be WI-FI enabled very soon.
“It will be the Internet itself that changes things,” he said. “The last mile is really being broken down.” Wi-Fi is going to have a significant impact on the telecommunications industry- there will be networking everywhere and Voice over IP (VOIP) will dominate the Internet,” according to Patrick.
Les Vadasz, Executive vice president, and one of the founders of Intel as well as President of Intel Capital, said Wi-Fi is a different paradigm than the cell phone service model that sells an integrated device and network. “I would like to buy a transport separate from an application service,”
Vadasz predicts that the “Next Big Event” will be the merger of fiber networks and wireless technologies. “every device is a communications device and we will get the full benefit of the Internet with wireless,” he commented. “Wi-FI offers ubiquitous access and good speeds yet it all doesn’t work together as it should. Intel is making significant investments to help solve these problems.” Vadasz predicts the “Next Big Thing” will be ” all the small things we have today working together.
Dan Bricklin, founder and CTO of Trellix- a company recently sold to Earthlink for its blogger and web technologies, as well as the and inventor of the electronic spreadsheet, discussed that Wi-Fi’s strength is its ability to work in a non-centralized fashion. Networks that can scale quickly and easily will help IT build robust technologies for the whole enterprise infrastructure. “We have to build things that are non-brittle,”
Bricklin believes that the “Next Big Thing” will emerge from what buyers wants. “Users have voted that they want instant messaging, WI-Fi, and cell phones. “In the old days of technology, it was the “Geek’s” who adapted and used new technologies first. That has changed and now there are many more people who are moving technology along to communicate with friends and relatives” Another example he cited were Bloggers, “they spread on line and were in wide use before any major publication even wrote about them.”
Mitch Kapor, Founder of Lotus and the once popular 1-2-3 spreadsheet and current Chairman of the Open Source Applications Foundation, took the contrary position, arguing that it’s not yet clear if the money to be made from wireless or network-based technologies will be absorbed by incumbent carriers, leaving startups out of pocket. Kapor argued that innovation will be stifled in the short term given the venture capital community’s “enormous conservatism.” The “Next Big Thing” will most likely come from someone outside the conference room. “It starts by someone doing something incredibly obscure.”
In reference to the emergence of the Open Source Community, Kapor believes that most of the impact has been on the server market. “There has been no real innovation in the productivity space”
Demo Executive Producer Chris Shipley was increasingly optimistic about IT innovation, given the companies exhibiting at the conference. And this was despite her summary of IT’s status quo: “We’re an industry riding around in an ambulance hoping we don’t end up in a morgue.”