Some of the best minds in technology gathered for The Churchill Club's annual dinner. Eric Savitz of Barron's covered the event in detail. VentureBeat also has a nice summary including audience votes on the trends.
The highlights, excerpted from Eric Savitz article, were;
- The rise of the “implicit” Internet. Today your permanent record exists; you create a trail of data exhaust, digital bread crumbs. Implicit data that exists in silence. Movie rentals, restaurant reservations, books purchased, Web sites visited, etc. All of this data existed in silence. No easy way until now to benefit from the data; but the silos are coming down. Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Mozilla collecting data.
I have seen so many companies, literally hundreds, that are building social, fun, aggregators, filters, recommendations, communities, and services that all boil down to one thing...building profiles from implicit data and explicit actions to better target advertising. It is the biggest "head fake" in business history. All these widgets and services appear to be fun consumer toys, but underneath they are advertising driven data collectors. BTW, "head fake" is a basketball sports term for faking with a head movement that you are going one way and then quickly going the other way.
- Betting on smart phones: The mobile device migration to smart phones from features phones will produce even greater disruption than PC industry moving from character mode to graphical interface.
This prediction was made by Roger McNamee who has a major investment in Palm, so he is definitely putting his money where his mouth is. I totally agree with Roger, in fact I made the same prediction yesterday on a Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council’s talk show hosted by James Geshwiler. In January of 2007 I called it the Triple Play for The Next Big Thing; Local Search, Voice enabled, with Location Based Services, on a Mobile Phone. There are more cell phones than desktop computers in the world today. Cell phones have been called the 'Third Screen", but they are quickly becoming the first screen for the younger generation.
- Water tech will replace global warming as a global priority. The world is running our of usable water and will kill millions more in our lifetime than global warming.
I agree water already is a big priority in some parts of the world. At the NVCA conference last week one panel member said that 90% of the water we use in the USA is used for agriculture and irrigation. That is an astounding truth. We only drink something like 4% of all the water we produce. The rest is used for washing, flushing toilets, and irrigation. Dean Kamen has done some amazing work in the area of low cost water purification systems.
- Fossilizing fossil energy. Oil and coal will have trouble competing with biofuels. 99% of discussion on the topic is completely irrelevant to the topic. In 4-5 years will have production proof that can sell biofuel at well below $2 a gallon at today’s tax structure and no subsidy.
Vinod Khosla made this prediction. I hope he is right but I have a hard time believing this. There have been numerous stories written on this subject that suggest it takes more energy to produce a gallon of biofuel than it is worth. Perhaps these articles are part of the "99% of the discussion is irrelevent" that Vinod was talking about. Wind, Solar, and Mini-Hydro are proven sources of clean renewable energy where the technology and economics are viable at current energy prices. Green energy is certainly a hot area for investment and innovation. The question is can startups play a role here or will it be dominated by the big energy companies and utilities.
Read the complete list of top trends at Barron's Tech Trader Daily by Eric Savitz.