March 1, 2012
Last week at the Austin Innovators and Entrepreneurs Series sponsored by IBM Venture Capital Group, IBM Innovation Center, and the Austin Chamber of Commerce, I had the pleasure of speaking with Michael Bettersworth about what he saw as emerging Minitrends in education. Michael is the associate vice chancellor for technology advancement at Texas State Technical College (TSTC) and director of TSTC Forecasting. TSTC Forecasting identifies new competencies needed by employers so that college curriculum can be updated to increase the employability of college graduates and provide a highly skilled workforce for Texas employers. Since my company, Technology Futures, Inc. (TFI), worked with Michael and TSTC developing the TSTC Forecasting program in 2002 and conducted several technology forecasts for them in the proceeding years (see below for access to electronic versions of those forecasts), I was particularly interested in what he had to say.
According to Michael, “When we began forecasting emerging employer demand we focused primarily at the job and degree plan level. Today we focus on the alignment of competencies across jobs and curriculum. In other words, we have to look for the Minitrends. For example, mobile application development is now an established part of the IT sector. The Minitrend within mobile apps is the need for new competencies such as html5 and Java for structuring and presenting content across mobile devices. Similarly, we don’t need colleges to develop entirely new degree programs for this sector, but rather update curriculum within applicable existing awards or perhaps offer specialized short-term training options for those looking to upskill.”
Michael continues, “A competency-based approach that looks for Minitrends is more efficient and produces more actionable recommendations for college leaders. It’s with this kind of nuanced decision-making that the needs of industries are met and the value of Minitrends can be realized.”
The TSTC Forecasting Program with Michael’s enthusiastic leadership has led to the development of new technology courses, certificates, and degree programs offered at colleges throughout the State of Texas and funding for talent pipeline development through new capacity building and student scholarship grant funds. We appreciate his insight into how to best prepare our workforce for the needs of our future.
As mentioned above, we at TFI were partners with Michael and TSTC in the development of the TSTC Forecasting program and conducted several technology forecasts for TSTC. The TFI authored or co-authored reports are available in electronic form at no cost to our readers (also for sale on Amazon). (The programs more recent TechBriefs are also available on the TSTC site.)
–Home Technology Integration, A Technology Forecast by John H. Vanston, Ph.D., Henry Elliott, M.S.M.E., Michael A. Bettersworth, MA, and Wayne Caswell
–Emerging Technology Programs for Texas Colleges: Advanced Digital Manufacturing, Hybrid Vehicles, Micro-Electromechanical Systems, and Computer Forensics: Three Emerging Technology Employment Opportunities by John H. Vanston, Ph.D. and Henry Elliott, Program Director: Michael A. Bettersworth
The TSTC Forecasting program is based on Programs for Emerging Technologies (PET), a process developed by TFI and the Texas State Technical Colleges (TSTC) System for identifying emerging technologies and then forecasting associated technical advances, market developments, and employment opportunities. Many of the concepts involved may be useful to others seeking new growth opportunities.
October 25, 2011
I’ve attended the InnoTech Conference and Expo and its associated eMarketing Summit for several years now and always learn a lot. This year I wanted to pass on some comments from experts that I heard yesterday relating to emerging trends that are becoming more and more important:
Sean Lowry, of the very successful InnoTech series, always does a great job of making sure everything runs smoothly. I was even able to steal him for a minute to ask what emerging trends he saw coming. He told me, “I see continued convergence of all the different technologies we are seeing here today. Development of mobile applications and host applications in the cloud are particularly important. There is so much video activity and a lot of it is being hosted in the cloud now.”
I asked Giovanni Galluci, social media expert and Dallas photographer what he thinks the next trend in social media is going to be. He said, “Getting over it. Everyone is burnt out with all the hype and now people are looking for more meaning in social media. Twitter is ridiculous. Those who do marketing are beginning to realize it. Online social media is becoming part of the umbrella of marketing, which is where it belongs. Social media is becoming more commodatized—as in more of a commodity.”
He gave several great hints about Facebook including that Facebook ads are the best way to grow a fan base; Facebook is the 2nd largest search engine, so take advantage of it (including using pictures with metatags, main key words in description, etc.); and put Facebook info on all your printed matter including cards and bills.
I chatted with William Leake, CEO of Apogee Search Marketing, and his take was that “More and more advertising presence is going to be driven by physical location. If you don’t have a physical location strategy, you are going to lose.”
Craig Wax, CEO of Invodo and a video expert, had a lot to say about the future of video marketing. According to Craig, “In the future, no one is going to stand in line anymore. Offline and online is no longer relevant. This is already starting to happen and it is going to become ubiquous.” He added that “QR readers are going to be incorporated into devices and the present obstacles to their use will be chipped away.” (On a side note, Craig was most recently the Senior Vice President and General Manager at Match.com. That had to be an interesting job!)
According to Pat Scherer, Web and Mobile Deployment Manager at The Detail Person, “Mobile space is going to be huge. With the explosion of devices, I think it’s going to make a huge impact on the retail industry. Not only for payments, but for creating local-based experiences utilizing mobile social media. I anticipate this leveling the playing field with e-commerce.”
Finally, I got to chat briefly with siblings Kevin Olsen and Kerri Olsen, Co-Founders of the Austin Grand Prix. Having Formula 1 in Austin exciting!
Media/Marketing Director, Technology Futures, Inc.
Co-Author, MINITRENDS: How Innovators & Entrepreneurs Discover & Profit From Business & Technology Trends
February 22, 2011
Is your business ready to lose control? That appears to be the direction of enterprise computing, according to a new set of predictions just released by management consulting powerhouse, Accenture.
In the free report, Accenture Technology Vision 2011, Accenture’s information technology (IT) team, led by Kevin Campbell, chief executive of the company’s technology group, reviewed such sources as the subjects of keynote speeches at technology conferences, the types of projects receiving venture capital funding, and the predictions of well known IT experts. These sources are similar to those John and Carrie Vanston recommend consulting when analyzing the viability of trends in their book, MINITRENDS. The Accenture report arrives at a short list of eight trends that are transforming IT.
Accenture sees “a world of IT that barely resembles what enterprise computing looks like today,” according to Gavin Michael, Accenture’s managing director of research and development, as quoted by TMCnet reporter, Rajani Baburajan. “IT is no longer in a support role. Instead, it is front and center driving business performance and enriching people’s lives like never before,” Michael said.
Accenture sees three major rivers running through its predictions:
- Greater Distribution of Data: “Data is dispersed across many more locations, and under the control of far more owners.”
- The Separation of Software and Hardware: “Technology today enables decoupling of entities and layers once deemed inseparable.”
- The Meteoric Rise of Analytics: “Analytics will become the super-tool with which to drive more agile and effective decision-making.”
You have to be something of a mindreader to parse the jargon of the report and glean the pearls of wisdom it contains, but they are there. Accenture sees decentralization at the core of technology trends, such as cloud computing, which we have frequently covered on this blog.
The report’s insight that IT security needs to move from a “fortress mentality” to a layered and distributed series of security checks is prescient, as is the awareness that greater automation in security and the ability of software to handle “noise” will improve results. Imagine how the technology behind IBM’s Watson (the new Jeopardy champion) will enable computers to understand natural language and anticipate security breaches instead of waiting for an attack.
The Accenture report, like most similar surveys, sees the rise of the social platform in enterprise computing. The website will no longer be the primary connection point between an organization and its constituents. Companies will have to set up shop where the consumer is — on sites such as Facebook and Netflix — rather than waiting for the consumer to come to them.
The report concludes with this powerful insight: The primary role of IT in the past has been to reduce an organization’s costs; in the future, it will be to enhance the user experience. The authors of the report foresee technology that goes beyond Apple Computer’s famously intuitive user experience to something that instantly and seamlessly shapes itself to the unique characteristics of the user.
Accenture’s vision is at once thrilling and unsettling. Organizations will have to move out of their bunkers, distributing their computing resources and allowing users to take control. Like a fast-paced, high-tech amusement ride, it’s going to be scary but enjoyable for those entities able to loosen up and cede control of their IT resources to the audiences they are charged with serving.
News Editor, Minitrends Blog
Source: “Accenture Technology Vision 2011” (PDF), Feb. 7, 2011
Source: “Accenture Maps Eight Trends That Will Drive Future of IT,” infoTech Spotlight, Feb. 9, 2011
Image by Mulad (Michael Hicks), used under its Creative Commons license.
December 8, 2010
On December 2, International Data Corporation (IDC), the giant IT research firm out of Framingham, Massachusetts, released its annual predictions for IT in the coming year. The firm is forecasting a perfect storm for IT: a combination of cloud computing, mobile computing, and social networking that threatens to consign desktop PCs to the storage closet.
The author of the survey is IDC’s chief analyst, Frank Gens, who leads IDC’s 1,000 analysts in 110 countries in tracking IT trends. Summarizing this year’s report, Gens sees a nearly complete transformation in the dominant computing platform:
What really distinguishes the year ahead is that these disruptive technologies are finally being integrated with each other — cloud with mobile, mobile with social networking, social networking with ‘big data’ and real-time analytics. As a result, these once-emerging technologies can no longer be invested in, or managed, as sandbox efforts around the edges of the market. Instead, they are rapidly becoming the market itself and must be addressed accordingly.
As the IDC report ripples through the Internet, different players are examining what it means for the future of computing. At ComputerWorld, Sharon Gaudin comments on the surge in social networking, suggesting that business startups will stop building expensive and complicated websites and opt for free Facebook pages instead.
Anuradha Shukla at TechWorld is enthusiastic about IDC’s upbeat predictions for IT expenditures. The report forecasts a 5.7% increase in outlays over 2010, to $1.6 trillion worldwide. IDC sees half of that spending coming from emerging market countries shrugging off the recession.
At PC World, Patrick Thibodeau focuses on IDC’s prediction that shipments of apps-enabled mobile devices — smartphones and tablets — will surpass shipments of PCs in the next 18 months. Thibodeau points out, however, that shipments of PCs are not declining; rather, they are growing, but not nearly as quickly as mobile devices.
Another prediction that is sure to catch the eye of venture capital firms: Gens says that nearly a third of the major players in social networking will be bought up in the coming year by the likes of Oracle, Microsoft, HP, and IBM, who need to get in the game.
While many others futurists we have covered on the Minitrends blog have made similar predictions about the growth in cloud computing, mobile computing, and social networking, none of them have joined them together with such a powerful vision of a whole new way of working that Frank Gens brings to IDC’s report.
What do you think is coming in 2011? Do you think it will be just more of the same, or the beginning of a totally new platform, as the IDC report speculates? We welcome your comments.
News Editor, Minitrends Blog
Source: “IDC Predicts Cloud Services, Mobile Computing, and Social Networking to Mature and Coalesce in 2011, Creating a New Mainstream for the IT Industry,” IDC Press Release, 12/02/10
Source: “Business will get more social in 2011, IDC says,” ComputerWorld, 12/06/10
Source: “Cloud services, mobile computing and social networking to mature in IT industry,” TechWorld, 12/07/10
Source: “In historic shift, smartphones, tablets to overtake PCs,” PC World, 12/07/10
Photo by davedehetre (David DeHetre), used under its Creative Commons license.
December 1, 2010
December marks the peak season for looking back on trends from the previous year and forward to trends in the coming year. We’d like to start the month at the Minitrends Blog by sharing the forecasts of famous prognosticators in technology trends to see where they are pointing.
First up is Eric Lundquist. Lundquist is a fixture at Ziff Davis Enterprise, where he has ridden the waves of publishing trends as he reports on technology trends. The Harvard-educated scientist began his career as a journalist (you remember what those are, don’t you?), honing his craft as a daily newspaperman. A newspaper is collection of alphabet in ink on paper that was written yesterday, about today, and is worthless tomorrow.
Lundquist joined Ziff Davis back when eWeek was named PC Week, and quickly rose to editor-in chief of that publication. Following his own advice that video is growing as a method of information delivery, Lundquist moved into video production as creator of CIO Insight, a program on The Pulse Network, which combines streaming video with social networking.
In 2009, Lundquist revealed a love-hate relationship in his technology forecast for 2010. Along with the usual suspects (cloud computing, the migration to mobile, etc.), Lundquist expected CIOs to suffer from whiplash as the economy cut their budgets at a time when IT should be growing its budget. He has similar mixed feelings over social networks, seeing them as a growing trend and a growing source of embarrassment for thoughtless executives.
In his new forecast for 2011, the operative word is “service.” Lundquist predicts that most CIOs will have to evaluate and purchase software as a service in 2011. He also sees the rise of “apps” allowing employees to test and choose services rather than the CIO. He sees social networking, tablets, and mobile platforms all working hard to service business and B2B users who need to communicate on closed networks. He concludes his forecast by lauding the Apple Store for its $99/year training service that has created real-world (not virtual) communities of users.
Mixed-in with Lundquist’s predictions for 2011 are some of the usual suspects: the continuing migration to mobile, cloud computing, virtualization, and tablets. Included is his steadfast belief that “video will take a front seat for businesses to provide new product details, showcase executives, and create how-to explanations for their products and services.” Could this be the last time we see Eric Lundquist’s predictions in print? Enjoy the alphabet while you can.
News Editor, Minitrends Blog
Source: “Lundquist’s Top Tech Trends for 2011,” CIO Insight, 11/19/10
Source: “Ten Top Tech Stories of 2009,” CIO Insight, 12/15/09
Source: “CIO Insight,” The Pulse Network
Photo courtesy of fdecomite, used under its Creative Commons license.
November 29, 2010
In case you hadn’t noticed, this Thanksgiving marked the tipping point of a major new technology trend: Social Shopping. When you combine the spread of social networking, the market penetration of mobile phones, the desperation of retailers to capture more business, and consumers’ love of the deal, you wind up with Social Shopping.
Richard MacManus, the founder and CEO of ReadWriteWeb, which is consistently one of the best blogs covering Internet technology trends, recently kicked off a series looking back on the top tech trends of 2010. He begins the series by looking at Social Shopping.
In 2010, we’ve seen the rise of so-called ‘social shopping’ services. They rely heavily on technologies such as social networking, crowdsourcing and smart phone scanners. Here we present five of the main social shopping developments of 2010.
MacManus doesn’t just pick five companies to profile, but five different types of Social Shopping technologies. Who knew there were so many? Here are his top picks, along with examples of companies that have been using these technologies to attract consumers:
2. Real-Time Shopping: These deep discounts might last for only a few minutes or hours or until supplies run out. Example: Woot.
5. Barcode Scanning: Phone apps that allow you to take a picture of a barcode or QR code with your phone, then search for reviews, deals, or other information on the Internet. Examples: RedLaser, ScanLife.
Last week, we wrote about how Google CEO Eric Schmidt revealed a new feature for Android phones that will allow you to skip the barcode photo and just wave your phone near an NFC chip to learn about deals on a product.
If those aren’t enough leads for you to explore the new world of Social Shopping, then take a look at Mashable’s list of 18 Sites for Social Shopping — and don’t forget to look in the comments for another 18 or so!
News Editor, Minitrends Blog
Source: “Top Trends of 2010: Social Shopping,” ReadWriteWeb, 11/15/10
Source: “SHOPPING SPREE: 18 Sites for Social Shopping & Deals,” Mashable, 08/08/07
Photo by Jenelle/Thriving Ink, used under its Creative Commons license.
November 18, 2010
Google CEO Eric Schmidt is keen on mobile phones. He says that people don’t realize how powerful these devices are, and claims they are “more powerful” than desktop computers.
Schmidt made these remarks on November 15 at O’Reilly’s Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco, where he was grilled for almost an hour by Tim O’Reilly and John Battelle. Both O’Reilly and Battelle come from the world of publishing. O’Reilly is founder and CEO of O’Reilly Media, a well-known publisher of computer books and conference organizer. Battelle was a co-founder of Wired magazine and currently runs Federated Media, an online advertising firm. A video of their conversation with Eric Schmidt is available through the Web 2.0 Summit website.
Early in the interview, Schmidt pulls out a prototype “device” which looks very much like a mobile phone. He explains how this new device, which will appear on the market in the coming weeks, will use a “near field communication” (NFC) chip that you can wave or bump against something to get information about a product, person, or place.
With current 3G smartphones, you can take pictures with your phone and use those pictures to search the Web for information about a product or place. On another blog I write for, the SixEstate blog, online journalism expert Rachelle Matherne describes how smartphones can snap pictures of quick response barcodes (“QR codes”) and get additional information about an advertiser’s products.
The hang-up is that using QR codes requires adding an app to your phone, then taking a picture of the barcode with your phone’s camera. Near field communication eliminates all that fuss. You just bump the item with your phone and instantly retrieve all kinds of information. You can bump a book and discover other books by the same author, or deals offered by multiple vendors on the same product.
The bump gets even better when you attach it to a digital wallet. The new smartphones will enable consumers to “bump to buy,” according to O’Reilly. In his coverage of the Web 2.0 Summit, InformationWeek editorial director, Fritz Nelson, says that “bump to buy” will take time to spread:
This requires an ecosystem of merchants, payment providers and payment processors, and while this ecosystem is starting to form, it’s still evolving. Schmidt later told a gathering of reporters that broader acceptance is probably a year away.
Schmidt, who usually wears a severe demeanor, was positively giddy about the potential of the next generation of mobile phones. He says they are more personal, more secure, and more powerful than desktop computers, and that “mobile first” is his mantra, meaning that the phone will be the focus of Google’s strategy in the coming years.
How important are Schmidt’s remarks to driving the industry? Of the 25 videos posted from the Web 2.0 Summit as of this writing, Schmidt’s interview has been viewed over 120,000 times. Compare that to Zynga’s Mark Pincus — and most of the other well-known speakers — whose videos have been watched only a few hundred times, and you can see that Google is still the engine of innovation driving the new economy.
News Editor, Minitrends Blog
Source: “Web 2.0 Summit 2010: A Conversation with Eric Schmidt,” OReillyMedia, 11/15/10
Source: “Google CEO Schmidt Says NFC To Extend Android Acceptance,” InformationWeek, 11/15/10
Source: “QR Codes and the New Journalism,” SixEstate Blog, 11/09/10
Photo: Screen capture from “A Conversation with Eric Schmidt,” courtesy OreillyMedia.
November 17, 2010
Mary Meeker runs the global technology research team as a managing director of investment giant, Morgan Stanley. When Meeker talks, the market listens, and she was saying plenty at the recent Web 2.0 summit in San Francisco.
On Tuesday, November 16, Meeker shared her picks for the top Internet trends, backed up with some of the most cleverly crafted stats I’ve ever seen. Among the revelations: Print publications occupy only 12% of the amount of time consumers spend with media, yet account for 26% of advertising spending. This does not bode well for the future of advertiser-supported print media.
On the other hand, Meeker’s stats show that the Internet takes up 28% of people’s time for media, yet draws only 13% of advertisers’ budgets. She says there’s $50 billion too little being spent in online advertising.
Mashable’s Ben Parr summarized Meeker’s misallocation thusly: Facebook is “the most under-monitized asset in online advertising.” According to Meeker’s stats, social networking is earning a mere 55 cents per thousand impressions (CPM) from advertisers. Compare this to CPM’s of about $2.70 for the majority of websites that accept display advertising. Also grossly undervalued, according to Meeker, are display ads embedded in email, which earn only 89 cents CPM.
Parr was modest enough not to mention that Mashable ranked as one of the Top 10 brands on Twitter, coming in at position number 10 — right behind the National Basketball Association (NBA) and just ahead of Martha Stewart.
Another slide in Meeker’s presentation compared the number of people who “like” brands on Facebook with the number of viewers for popular television programs — and the CPMs associated with those TV shows. Zynga’s Texas Hold’em Poker leads the likes on Facebook with 27.2 million, which is roughly equivalent to the number of American Idol viewers. Whereas display ads on Facebook cost a mere $0.55 per thousand impressions, American Idol charges $30. We profiled Zynga founder Mark Pincus here on the Minitrends blog last month, where he talked about the importance of good eating habits.
Some of the other trends mentioned in the book, MINITRENDS, which also caught Mary Meeker’s eye, include the growth of virtual worlds. Meeker favorably compared the Japanese social networking site, Tencent (637 million active users), with Facebook (620 million annual visitors). The difference? Tencent is a virtual world using avatars. The shocking stat that caught my attention: over $1.4 billion in virtual goods have been sold on Tencent! Those are real yen shelled out for virtual merchandise such as outfits for avatars.
Another shocking stat: Seven of the top 15 Internet companies by market capitalization in 2004 are not in the top 15 today. Punishment is swift for those who do not stay on the edge of innovation. Case in point: Nokia and RIM held 70% of the smartphone market as recently as 2008. Today, that market share has dropped to 52% while Google (Android) and Apple (iPhone) have gone from nothing to gobbling up 42% of the market.
News Editor, Minitrends Blog
Source: “The Unprecedented Rise of Apple iOS and Other Internet Trends,” Mashable, 11/16/10
Source: “Mary Meeker On Ten Questions Internet Execs Should Ask And Answer,” TechCrunch, 11/16/10
Image from Morgan Stanley, used under Fair Use: Commentary.
November 12, 2010
Social networking is a megatrend that has been gaining momentum since bulletin boards first made it possible for people to schmooze online in the 1980s. Out of this megatrend have come numerous Minitrends that investors have profitably mined over the past five years, including social bookmarking, tagging, and location-based networks such as Foursquare.
Steve Monfort, a writer for NASDAQ.com, recently reported on the growing trend of small businesses hiring more people to handle social media:
A recent American Express survey shows that 40 percent of small businesses are using social networking to promote their offerings, up from 10 percent a year ago.
While small businesses are just warming-up to social networking, nonprofit organizations were among the earliest to embrace the trend. By now, everyone has heard about “text-to-give,” which was used by the American Red Cross to collect $30 million from cellphone users for earthquake relief in Haiti last year. According to nonprofit tech guru Tonia Zampieri, sales and marketing manager for LoyaltyClicks, a division of Smart Online, text-to-give is so 2009.
Smart Online recently conducted a survey into technology trends for nonprofit organizations. The results were reported on NTEN, the Nonprofit Technology Network, just a few days ago. They indicate that over 90% of nonprofits actively use social networking (compared with only 40% of small businesses, according to American Express). The breakdown: 91% use Facebook, 63% use Twitter, 45% use YouTube, and 35% use LinkedIn.
You would think that level of penetration would be cheered by the nonprofit experts at LoyaltyClicks. But Zampieri has found a weakness in charity tech: mobile myopia. She writes:
[O]nly 16% of the surveyed nonprofits plan on having mobile websites in 2011, while 19% plan on having smartphone applications.
Zampieri cites a Nielson study that almost one-quarter of the time people are online is spent using social networks — and that half of that social networking is done with mobile devices. Then she provides “compelling reasons why a mobile website or a mobile application might work better for your organization” than, for example, old-fashioned text-to-give:
- donations aren’t limited to $5 or $10
- donations are received immediately
- you capture and control crucial data about your donors
- any size charity can use this technology, not just giants
- it’s a permanent tool, not just a one-shot appeal
For inspiring examples about the way nonprofit organizations are innovating with social networking, we recommend a recent Mashable story on “5 Must-Follow Non-Profits Making a Difference With Social Media.” The article is a run-up to the annual Mashable Awards which will be held January 6, 2011, at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.
I was particularly impressed by the way the Brooklyn Museum has made use of a wide variety of social networking Minitrends to engage visitors and benefactors both online and in person. The museum has a dedicated mobile site (LoyaltyClicks would approve) that allows browsers to tag the museum’s 94,000 piece collection, making it easier for visitors to locate must-see art based on other patrons’ comments. They also use Foursquare to provide restaurant suggestions and other ideas to fill out a trip to the museum.
If you have any other examples of nonprofits who are making innovative uses of social networking applications, we’d like to hear about them. And so would Mashable! The Mashable Awards are open for nomination until November 29.
News Editor, Minitrends Blog
Source: “Job growth anticipated in cloud computing, apps, social media,” NASDAQ.com News, 10/15/10
Source: “Technology Trends for Nonprofits in 2011,” NTEN, the Nonprofit Technology Network, 11/08/10
Source: “5 Must-Follow Non-Profits Making a Difference With Social Media,” Mashable, 11/06/10
Image courtesy of Lisa Brewster, used under its Creative Commons license.