“Boy, this technology is just really so dull and boring.”
Enrique Godreau was joking. As the managing director at GSharp Ventures and a 30-year industry veteran, Godreau knew that this audience would catch the deadpan inflection in his voice. But in case they didn’t, three industry experts spent around an hour last night discussing current technology trends and making predictions for the upcoming year.
The panel, moderated by Godreau and organized by the Washington Technology Industry Association, was comprised of Steve Hooper, a venture capitalist and the founding partner of Bellevue-based investment firm Ignition; Sujal Patel, former president of EMC Isilon Storage, and Matt Dyor, managing director of the Microsoft Accelerator.
The panelists touched on everything from the cloud computing to government regulations to the possibility that America’s entrepreneurial drive is waning. Here are some of the predictions and insights:
1. Mobile devices will continue to redefine the way we accomplish tasks and share our lives with friends.
Former Isilon CEO Sujal Patel: “We’re moving to mobile tablets and smartphones on the device side. We’re moving to cloud on the infrastructure. Applications are being redefined in every space out there. …We’re seeing completely new applications in areas that didn’t exist before…The world is moving to a much more social world, the world is moving to a much more mobile world. We’re taking workflows and processes and things that were traditionally not digital, and we’re moving them into a digital world. We’ve done that with our photographs and our videos. We’re going to do that with the way we plan events. It’s going to permeate our lives in a lot of different ways.”
2. The cloud will revolutionize data storage.
Microsoft’s Matt Dyor: “That whole area of inefficient businesses that are operating largely the same way that they were 10, 20 years ago are all right for disruption and the cloud’s really going to be an enabler for that to happen.”
3. Broadband providers will always struggle to deliver the bandwidth that consumers demand.
Ignition’s Steve Hooper: “There will always be a greater demand than there is for what you can offer in wireless spectrum. It’s a limited resource, and I think we’ll always have a battle of how do we get enough of it.
4. The U.S. will no longer be the worldwide leader in technological innovation if our educational standards don’t improve.
Former Isilon CEO Sujal Patel: “The other risk if we really start to erode the entrepreneurial spirit that created this country is that we have emerging nations like China and India and others that are coming that will overtake us. If we are not the innovation headquarters of the world, our kids are going to grow up in a very different world.”
5. Bureaucratic red tape might be the biggest inhibitor of technological advances
Ignition’s Steve Hooper: “The thing that scares me the most actually is government regulations and what it could to prevent us from creating the environment that continues to foster entrepreneurial activity.”
6. Email management services will be greatly improved.
Microsoft’s Matt Dyor: “That’s an area where I think it’s right for massive disruption. … I see that as an area I’m excited to watch somebody to come along and give me a great new product, and I think it will change the way business is done [as well as for] consumers.”
7. Tablets and smartphones are certainly the wave of the future, but don’t take your desktop to goodwill anytime soon
Former Isilon CEO Sujal Patel: “PCs are not dead. They are going to be around for a long time.”
Ryan Hueter is a student in the University of Washington Department of Communication News Laboratory.