I know of only three models that enterprise technologists can use to make accurate predictions of future technology, and all three models have failings.
The first model is to track mega trends in the IT industry. This provides broad insights on topics like Big Data, Cloud Computing, Cybersecurity, Commoditization of IT, Social Media and Open Source Software, but the broad insights this model provides are frequently too general to guide the planning actions of IT professionals.
The second model is to make linear projections on the state of specific categories of IT. Assessments like these can help in the short term by informing IT planners on what to expect in areas like hardware, communications systems, storage systems, analytical tools, development environments, mobile devices and a wide range of other categories. But the problems with linear projections like these is that it is impossible to predict, with accuracy, when the linear trend breaks due to surprise and disruption. Projections like this are important, but they too are flawed.
The third method is to interact with people who are making the future. This is perhaps the best way to predict coming technology disruptions. If you can learn what today’s engineers are developing and if you can get a sense of which of these hold the greatest potential of adding value to the enterprise market it can help IT decision-makers better prepare for the future. The flaw in this model is that entrepreneurs and engineers are not always successful, but in general the Alan Kay observation that “the best way to predict the future is to invent it” holds true.
This third method happens to also be the most fun! Examining this element of the future means you can dive deep into study of the great techno-capitalists of our age. The founders and lead technologists of firms like Microsoft, Oracle, Sun Microsystems, Apple, HP, Dell, IBM continue to innovate and are important to track (and we do so at our Tech Titans list). But increasingly it is the smaller disruptors that are causing the most change. To find and track these future disruptors we need to follow the investments of the great venture capital (VC) players.
Our interactions with VC have long influenced the firms we write about here and in our CTOlabs.com company directory and we will keep writing about the individual tech companies we believe should be on your radar. But we are also launching a new series of posts on the key VC firms we believe enterprise technologists should be tracking. We have overviews in the works now on:
And others are coming soon! Stay tuned for more.
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Latest posts by Bob Gourley
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