I joined the Churchill Club here recently and attended my first meeting last night which was the top tech trends for 2006. This was an interesting panel discussion/debate (not formal) with some audience voting on agreement with the panelists.
I was struck by two specific things
1) Each panel member (VC's of course) had specific vertical interests they wanted to mention. That makes sense, of course. The other panelists would agree or disagree, but everyone had a specific area of technological interest.
2) They did not actually integrate well. At one point Panelist A says X will happen. Panelist B says Y will happen, but A disagrees...Even though Y's occurrence is what will make X possible. Even when they
There was a lot of talk about new bio science trends as the place to make tech plays. There was also discussion about the overall plateauing of software and computing as an industry.
There was quite a lot of discussion and surprise at the idea that leaders in the computing field should recently have become interested in the biotech field.
None of them seemed to get that the next big COMPUTING revolution will be in BIOLOGICAL computation...The leveraging of the new, mechanistic understanding of biological processes at the molecular level to provide a surge in technological innovation in the computing arena.
While the presentation was very interesting, I sensed that the panel and even many of the attendees still didn't get it. The truly amazing thing that is beginning to happen in this century is NOT the advent of whole new technologies like genomics and proteomics, or the incredible advances in speed, performance, and miniaturization of electronics.
The thing to watch is the collapse of barriers between what have been disparate disciplines. Information Theory, as applied to Biological Engineering which feeds back into Materials Science to drive new Information technologies which will expand the biological horizons etc, etc, etc.
The synthesis of all these disparate fields...Biology, materials, electronics, photonics, chemistry, and radiology ... The synthesis of these is where ethe next huge leap in our technological civilization will be coming from.
Watch this space! You think things are strange now with kids getting pierced and tatooed, clothes that are starting to phone home for cleaning instructions, and locale-based technologies allowing the tracking of goods, people, and information?
Wait until the tatoos are wirelessly linked to the net to provide virtual services such as data and voice communication via clothes that reshape themselves based on the contextual environment of the wearer.
It gets weird from here!
And the VC's and Technologists of the world need to look at the synthesis, not the thesis.
My joining the Churchill Club was a good idea though and I intend to take in many of their meetings ... But I urge companies, economists, predictors and VCs trying to find the next big trend to look further out in a sense. The speed of change is about to be so great that 'further out' will be only 36-48 months in time, as it has been for these folks for decades. However, the AMOUNT of change in that time period will be far greater than ever before.
So a good idea today will be an expired idea in 6 months...Having already made its mark and brought in its revenue. To get ahead of THAT curve, people need to look at the emergent consequences of the exponentially increasing rate of change and figure out how what appear to be diverse technological trends will converge into products, services, and business models in a very sort time.