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May 6, 2011
At the 2011 Brocade Technology Summit this week, WIRED Magazine Co-Founder and “Senior Maverick” Kevin Kelly outlined six trends in the technology industry that are expected to gain steam in the coming years. Here’s a breakdown of those trends and the potential implications for managed services providers.
The trends include:
1. Screening: People will continue to gravitate to screens much the same way the previous generation gravitated toward books. That means there’s a big play to be made toward virtualization and tracking of a network on an interface. “You can’t have too many screens,” said Kelly, who predicted that we will see the continual growth of screens everywhere that we read.
2. Interacting: Receiving information is no longer sufficient. We now expect a back and forth conversation with real people and with our devices. MSP’s can expect their clients to want more of sending and receiving relationship with their service providers and devices. Specifically, more input into what their service providers develop next, and the flexibility and functionality to manipulate, add and extract applications on a service provider’s platform.
3. Sharing: This has the cloud written all over it. Companies want to share information across their many devices and the cloud is the most efficient way to do so. Kelly even brought up the idea of everyone one day sharing a giant cloud network through which different people and companies can share information. “One of the quickest ways to add value in a network economy is to connect many networks,” Kelly said. “That’s because the value of a network goes up by the number of nodes.”
Another aspect of the sharing phenomenon? Collective buying power. It’s already catching on in with individual consumers with the help of sites like Groupon. Whether or not companies come together to buy technology products remains to be seen. It seems unlikely to me that competitors would do so unless the margins were too good to pass up.
4. Flowing: Our lives are now streams of real time, online data. “There’s a shift in how we understand daily life to be. It’s now a stream. Communication is now a bundling of these streams,” said Kelly, as he explained a Wired Article from August 2010 entitled “The Web is Dead. Long live the Internet.” The article referenced a society moving away from web pages toward applications. This has huge implications from MSP’s. It means a switch from pages to streaming information. It means moving from the PC to the cloud. And it’s in an overall change in the conversation from “me” to “we.”
5. Accessing: As individuals, we want access to things like movies, music, books and tools in real time. This brings about the reincarnation of the rental. As Kelly put it, there’s a shift in importance from ownership to access. “If I have access to everything at any time, there’s no value in owning it because owning it comes with the burden of storing it and caring for it,” he said. If you think of this in terms of MSP’s, it means renting technology rather than buying it. We’re already seeing the seedlings of this today. Companies are hiring MSP’s through month-to-month or yearly contracts to act as their IT departments. They’re running information over third party networks. And companies like rentacomputer.com and techtravelagent.com are bringing the technology rental model to individuals.
6. Generating: Kelly referred to today’s Internet as “the world’s largest copy machine,” in which things are easily ripped and reused. So the question becomes how do people and companies make money? Things like search tools that are so easy to navigate and quickly find what you’re looking for that people are willing to pay for the service, and breaking news are ways to still make money in this era of generation. People will pay for immediacy. This doesn’t appear to be a huge issue for MSP’s at the moment. Technology applications are very hard to copy. And if they can be copied, they’re likely either trial or non-authentic versions. People will pay for authenticity and the quickest, most dependable version of a product.
Kelly delves deeper in to these and other tech. issues in his book “What Technology Wants.” He summed up his technology predictions with an overarching theme for techies to follow: “Wherever attention flows, money will follow.”
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