I had an opportunity to meet an interesting set of Silicon Valley leaders last week, and I realized what a loser I am. Okay, so not really – but I did miss out on a couple of trends while I focused on cloud computing and social – trends closer to what I do for a living. I thought I would look back and give you a list of big trends I missed or didn’t pay enough attention to, and what I plan to do about it:
- Energy Management (or Carbon Apps): The silicon valley has several startups and big companies rolling out products that help you measure your energy use, monitor it and provide you actionable reports. On the other side, products like Cisco EngergyWise, are making it possible to actually gather such information. While I was aware of startups like Hara, C3 etc. – its only in last few months I have paid attention to this market and realized how big this can be. I initially dismissed it as a simple carbon footprint measuring app most likely sold to meet compliance need. But if you think through the future, you will realize that a fully integrated managed end-to-end solution that tells a company like Pepsi how much energy (and even other resources like water) it uses, where, what it costs and how it can lower its consumption – this could be an enormously useful and valuable product. Next time, I will suspend my skepticism long enough to see what a new market can be and not judge too quickly. Easier said than done though.
- Social Gaming and Virtual Goods: I don’t play video games, never have. I have always spent way too much time on the computer and thought of gaming as just another way to add to my stiff neck muscles. But in the process, I completely ignored how big Zynga with games like Farmville has become. Business Week reports that it made over $450 million in revenue last year primarily by selling virtual goods. Next time, I see a trend like this that I don’t get – I am going to talk to teenagers, friends and spend time trying to understand it.
- iPhone: I knew about iPhone and who didn’t unless you have been living in Himalayas but since my work device was a Blackberry, I never bought one or used one on a regular basis till a few months ago. This meant I was out of the loop on the latest cool apps. And since I wasn’t missing this functionality or that functionality – I wasn’t spending time dreaming up killer iPhone apps. (I spend my time dreaming up killer cloud computing platform and apps.) Next time, I am getting the latest device – I already got an iPhone, a Kindle, a new Macbook Pro and am going to get an iPad. Owning cool devices is moving from a cost of living to investment column.
- SMS: Yes, I know SMS and have used SMS but I never used it like the teenagers today do. Or spent time understanding how its changing the landscape in emerging markets. SMS is being used for all kinds of novel uses from providing medical advice to checking bank balances especially in places like Africa and India. There was a huge opportunity around this trend and companies like GupShup.com have done well to capitalize on them.
- Video over Internet: Youtube seemed like a bad scheme to loose lots of money by splurging on storage and bandwidth and giving it away to consumers for free. I remember struggling graduate students at UNC Chapel Hill (top ranked school in Graphics and Virtual Reality) with streaming videos and trying to optimize the network and the codecs. Seemed like a joke 10 years ago. Between, Netflix and Cisco Telepresence – our lives are changed and will be unmistakably transformed in next 3 to 5 years as Cisco Telepresence like technology becomes cheap enough to be in every living room. What if every XBox, Wii and Samsung TV had telepresence built into it?
The list is even longer – I didn’t pay enough attention early on to multi-core processors, SSDs, connected devices revolution, — the list is long. What trends have you missed?