Monday, October 26, 2009

What Comes After The Cloud?

Lately I seem to feel like that 80's Rock Band that had that one big hit, doomed to play the same song night after night. In my case I happened to stumble upon this thing called Cloud Computing a little earlier then most. Over the last 6 years or so I've watched as the concept of outsourced web centric IT go from a fringe concept to an overly hyped, albeit under adopted buzz word. I've watched just about anything with the word "cloud" attached to it take off.

When I speak at conferences my presentations have shifted from "what is" or "how does" to "where do we go from here?" It seems that somewhere along the way people started asking me to act as a kind of futurist or more specifically, to speculate about the future. And funny as this may sound, I actually quite enjoy this new role of prognosticator. So in keeping with the theme, I'm going to prognosticate a little bit on this October evening in the year 2009.

So what's next you say? Some say the semantic web, to me this is obvious, just applying semantics to what is already underway. Other's say ubiquitous computing, I say this an extension to what has for many already become ubiquitous. Others say maybe green, maybe mobile, maybe global. Regardless of the specifics, technology is quickly becoming the central aspect in many established economies. In other parts of the world having a mobile phone is on par with a basic civil right like water or food. To not have this, the most basic form of communication is in a sense, to not exist at all.

Yet there is a disconnect between the highly connected western world and highly socially interconnected emerging economies. In looking at the opportunities for technology in the coming decades and beyond, stop focusing on the specific features & functions within technology. Look to the opportunities for social change on an individual basis. The enablement of those who previously were not enabled.

I believe that the biggest opportunities will be for enabling those with the least. So my prediction is simple, Want to Get Rich? Sell to the Poor. Places like Brazil, China, India and Malaysia are in the midst of rapid and amazing transformations. These transformations are being brought about by access to technology that was previously unavailable. Access to information and affordable technology will be at the heart of this transformation. Feed this hunger and you will empower the people within these economies. Rather then focus on globalizaton, focus on regionalization. Focus on how technology will effect that single human being.

What is clear is the 20th century belonged to the West, and the 21st will belong to the rest.

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