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Silicon Valley : Is innovation dead?

leadership08.jpgLast week, I spoke in Palo Alto for a a small, intimate dinner of a number of CIO’s for a variety of companies based in Silicon Valley. The focus of the talk was “how to provide for a culture and focus on innovation during a down market?”

I spoke to this issue from a number of perspectives. One issue I touched on was the inevitability of a rebound in the fortune of IT. If we cast our minds out two to five years, or perhaps even sooner, there are certain key trends in which we see a massive amount of innovation:

  • pervasive connectivity: we’ve barely scratched the surface of the era in which everyday devices gain connectivity and intelligence. The Internet enabled thermostat in my home is but a harbinger of what is yet to come. With it’s own Web browser, it has become a fascinating tool by which energy usage can be more closely monitored. The same device is deployed throughout the Arby’s chain, and offers a significant new method of controlling energy-spend.
  • continued growth of mobile: One recent survey of consumers suggested that while they might be willing to give up buying the latest plasma TV, there was no way they’d give up mobile or the Internet. Mobile is weaving itself into daily life, sophisticated platforms are finally here, devices are fashion, developers are on board in a big way, and the emerging applications are either real and useful, or just a tremendous bit of fun.
  • location intelligence: we’re barely scratching the surface with this one. Every device around us is becoming connected (pervasive connectivity), and we’ll gain knowledge as to its status through sensory awareness. Not only that : we’ll know exactly where it is. Search for “location intelligence professionals” online, and you’ll discover a group of people who understand how unique our future is set to be.
  • computational analytics: I’ve written about this before, in the context of this being “the next billion dollar industry.” Some of the biggest challenges we face and the solutions that we find for them — in terms of transportation, energy and the environment — will come from applying massive computing power and complex alogorithms to them. Think about smart highway infrastructure as an example: it would be ludicrous to not believe that we will see 5, 10, 15 or 20% incremental increases in energy conservation that will come from ever-more
    automated traffic systems.
  • staggering new mass markets: six months ago, it was believed that in the next 10 years, 1 billion people worldwide would move into the middle class. Maybe it’s only half that now : who knows? But 500 million is still a staggering number. There is plenty of potential for connectivity, mobile, hardware and software to newly emerging mass markets.
  • bio-connectivity: if I were a betting man, I’d have my money on this trend. Simply put, the global health care system is massively broken. Ten years out, home health care will pre-dominate, supported by a sophisticated infrastructure of smart health care energy devices. Yes, I’ve written about this trend on this blog too; see below.
  • transformational thinking: an entire generation has been stuck in an older paradigm of how to network; the election of a younger President, wired to the nation and the world, who thinks, interacts, moves, plans, and acts differently, sets even more velocity to the power of connectivity. The Internet, mobile, social networking and blogs changed an entire presidential race; they’re set to change everything else in society on a continuous basis.

Like everywhere, Silicon Valley is being impacted today by a focus on the downside. This happened in every earlier recession; but at the same time, innovators toiled away, coming up with the next amazing devices, concepts, software, ideas and infrastructure that later boggles the mind. We’ve barely scratched the surface in terms of what comes next.

:

  • Read about what happens When Thermostats get connected
  • Read the article about bio-connectivity, The Doctor is in around the clock
  • Read the article Minds of their own
  • Read “Bioconnectivity and the rapid emergence of new markets”
  • Read the article Command and Control – Opportunity Awaits Companies that Master Hyperconnectivity

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