Besides the ongoing trends that we have discussed, there are a few additional themes which will be seen in 2004:
Smart Mobs: Two of the worlds largest democracies go to the polls in 2004, and in both elections, technology is likely to play an important role. In the US, Howard Dean has already shown how the Internet can be used to garner political and financial support from the grassroots. In India, the media is coming of age in reporting news and events. The rapid cellphone boom is also likely to impact how electioneering is done. This is part of a trend that Howard Rheingold has termed as smart mobs think of them as individuals empowered with technology can start harnessing the power of the collective.
Tech IPOs: After a hiatus of three years, the technology companies are getting ready to hit the market. Salesforce has just filed its prospectus, while Google is presumed to be getting ready to do so soon. Three years of a holding pattern among entrepreneurs and venture capitalists after the boom and boost of the dotcom era is now giving way to optimism that tech is ready to take-off again on the markets. The IPOs will be followed by predatory activity as the companies flush with cash seek to consolidate, and that will once again fuel investment in start-ups. Hopefully, the lessons of the past will not be forgotten.
SME Solutions: As most of the worlds larger companies have invested in technology over the past decade, the small- and medium-sized enterprises have lagged behind. For one, they found the solutions quite expensive. For another, they are less easier to reach and in a world where the big companies had been liberal with their IT spend, the smaller brethren were all but ignored. In addition, enterprises are realising that their real-time information systems are only as good as the weakest link in the chain. So, now, the race is on to target SMEs with affordable technology solutions. From Microsoft to SAP to IBM, the focus is now on making SMEs intelligent, real-time and event-driven.
Visualisation Software: Even as the information we need to process has multiplied manifold in the past few years, the screen real estate, our attention span and our faculties have not changed significantly. 2004 will see an increasing focus on software which can help us envision and interact better with information. The start of the year sees Grokker, a solution from Groxis, becoming available to provide better insights into the search results from Google. Expect more such innovations as companies seek to add an additional dimension to the data that we see and process.
Two other related technology areas which will continue to garner attention are biotechnology and nanotechnology. 2004 will see a closer integration between those with mainstream information technology. The sciences of life and the small will merge with that of bits and bytes to create even greater insights and innovations. If there is one defining trend for tomorrows innovations, it is that one needs to look at the whitespaces and intersections between technologies. Digitisation is breaking down barriers between industries, competition and countries. The world of Networks is at hand.
Tomorrow: India in 2004
TECH TALK 2003-04+T