Catching The Next Wave on The High-Tech Revolution

Getting To The Future First And Winning

Eric M. Berg from the PricewaterhouseCoopers Global Technology Centre, based in Menlo Park, CA described to us that the second half of 1990’s was a period of massive investment in ICT. As discussed in a previous Article, this investment laid the groundwork of a “public world network” which is based on the Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP Protocol.)

Today, about 300 petabits of data traverses this world network each day. That will increase to about 5,000 petabits per day in 2007 and surge to about 100,000 per day in 2013. Not only that, but there exists a large base of knowledge, experienced entrepreneurs, and technologies for creating solutions that depend on networked computing resources. As Vinod Khosla states, 90% of innovation is yet to come.

5. Commoditization of Touch Points
We now add the fifth layer to the High-Tech Revolution we discussed in a previous Article. Taking the “intelligent real-time enterprise” to the edge, we call this next layer of innovations the “Commoditization of Touch Points.” This layer of innovation started in 1950 outside New York City when a doctor on a golf course received the first page via a six-ounce radio receiver in his pocket. We have gone from “almost never connected to the network” to “almost always connected.” In fact, we are so connected today that we face “serious consequences for turning off cell phones.” We define touch points as the convergence of wireless communications and handheld computing. Touch points provide services to mobile users through handheld or other portable devices that access systems over wireless network links.

Some influential business leaders, most notably Jeff Papows, President and CEO of Lotus in the early and mid-1990’s, brought us the first discussions of “connectivity to the very edge.” Michael Capellas, CEO of Compaq Computers in the 1990’s told us that as the computation continues to move to the edge of the networks “the PC will still be at the center of business worker’s day.” He added, “But we are going to see a whole array of new devices; cell phones, handheld PCs, tablet-sized PCs, that extend the power of the PC beyond the desktop over the Internet.”

The advent of new wireless voice and data services, and the subsequent growth of this segment, the extension of the Internet from PCs to PDAs, and then to mobile phones, is second only to the explosive growth of the Internet. According to IDC and the Wireless Industry Survey, the number of devices accessing the Internet worldwide will grow to more than 1.6 billion in 2005, up from 410 million in 2000. This includes all PCs (desktops and notebooks), and mobile Internet phones.

The growth phase during the extension of the Internet to “edge-devices,” and then to sensors, actuators and switches, will make this number seems like playschool. We will see some 14 billion devices connected to the Internet by the year 2010, which is far beyond the 500 million PCs we have today plugging into the Internet. In essence, all things that think will be linked via the Internet.

We now introduce ten clusters of innovations that are cresting up as the fifth layer in the High-Tech Revolution.

1. Mobile Phones
The mobile phone industry started in 1973 when Popular Science had a cover story featuring Motorola’s new wireless phone system. Between 2000 and the end of 2002, 1.26 billion handsets were delivered to retailers around the world. Bell Labs says that they can soon make a mobile phone the size of a quarter, and Intel created a processing chip for mobile applications, delivering superior battery life and better performance.

2. PDAs
The first Palm Pilot personal digital assistant (PDA) was introduced in 1996. There are three types of smart handheld devices, PDAs, smart phones and hybrids, such as Handspring’s Visor phone, which merges the capabilities of both PDAs and smart phones, or BlackBerry wireless devices. Facilitating the workers who are integrated in real-time enterprises, expect to see 830 million of these PDAs in the world by 2007. Think of the PDA as a “remote control” to the world for all sorts of E-commerce that will constantly trickle information to the consumer, and deliver useful information and services based on what the person is doing and location.

3. Instant Messaging
Internet instant messaging is on course to become the next “killer app” as it is taking hold in the business world. (33) The number of corporate IM users worldwide will grow from about 5.5 million in 2000 to more than 280 million by 2007 and the total number of IM messages sent for personal and business will be around 2 trillion.

4. Wireless Networking
More venture money has been poured into this segment on a percentage basis in 2001-2002 that any other segment of start-up technology investing. And for good reason. By 2006 between 40-50 million Americans are expected to be plugging into the Internet via one of two networking systems. Piconets, or wireless personal area networks (WPANs) are for very short ranges, less than ten meters. Wireless Local Area Networks (WLAN’s) are for longer ranges. Through these “Wi-Fi” networks, short for “wireless fidelity” and also known as 802.11b, users can stay connected 50-150 feet indoors, and up to 40 miles outside.

5. Device To Device
We like to say: “Things that think will be linked and share what they know with each other.” Out of some 8 billion processors made annually, only 2% are actually placed on PC platforms. Motorola believes that some 65 billion smart chips will embedded in our world by 2005. Today’s children will consume some 6,000 chips in their lifetime; in games, automobiles, refrigerators and even in municipal garbage bins. The ICT infrastructure will also have to accommodate a huge growth in radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags. RFID tags enable electronic monitoring of physical objects. Billions of these “digital dog-tags” will be used to track pallets of goods moving through the supply chain, consumer goods on store shelves, cars passing through tollbooths, cattle, and many other items.

6. Web Services
In June 2000 Microsoft announced its .Net strategy for Internet-based applications and unofficially dubbed such applications as “Web Services.” Web services are software technologies that let programmers combine existing computer systems in new ways, over the Internet, within one business or across many. They facilitate the sharing of information among different software applications. Building on the trillions of dollars invested in the ICT infrastructure, web services let companies build a bridge between software written in different programming languages and developed by different vendors or running on different operating systems.

7. Grid Computing
Mike Nelson, director, Internet technology and strategy at IBM says, “Grid could be every bit as important as Linux is today. The most important thing is that it will provide cheaper computing cycles and storage to our customers and do it more reliably.” Following in APRAnet’s roots, grid involves the creation of a reliable and scalable infrastructure that connects computing and other information resources owned and managed by many organizations into a global virtual computer.

8. Storage Networking
IBM invented the disk drive in 1956. Their RAMAC 305 was the size of two refrigerators and it took IBM a year of production, combining hundreds to make a gigabyte of storage. IBM made a gigabyte drive the size of a thumb in 2002. By 2016 you’ll be able to record four years of your life onto a $500 handheld device. Think of it as a “VCR crossed with Apple Computer’s iPod.”

9. Telematics
By 2007, about 35% of cars will be “Internet-enabled” with telematics equipment. It is the marriage of autos and electronics. It combines wireless communications, computing, and satellite-based Global Positioning System (GPS) technologies. Rainer Kallenbach, general manager for Bosch, the company that invented the antilock braking system for automobiles, says, “To put it very simply, you are turning the car into a computer.” Telematic systems like brakes and transmission are electronic, software-controlled, and networked with each other and with the outside world.

10. Nanotechnology
Takes its name from the nanometer, one-billionth of a meter. It involves the fundamental understanding of how the universe operates at the scale of atoms and molecules, and the science of manipulating individual atoms to create new materials. “Nanoelectronics” are transistors the size of single molecules. They are important because as John Rogers, director of nanotechnology research at Lucent Technologies’ Bell Labs says, “At some point, silicon is going to run out of steam. You’re going to need something else.”

SOURCE: Roadmap To Entrepreneurial Success