IN THE FINANCE section of the Irish Times, Karlin Lillington (below, left) fingers "the next five big things" and I think she's pulling some material from the rough notes of a few board meetings I've heard discussed in the Horseshoe Bar of the Shelbourne Hotel. For a helicopter view of forces at play in the technology sector, Karlin's five perspectives perspectives below are worth considering.
1. Consolidation will occur. Closer to home, some expect computer manufacturer Dell in Limerick to roll up shop and consolidate its manufacturing in a much lower cost operating environment.
2. Making money from social networking. Twitter has to figure out its revenue model in 2009--that's Ev Williams' public thought. With online advertising alone unsuited as the major revenue line, that means subscription services (like Socialtext) or company-specific social network services (IBM has one model for that).
3. Privacy moves to the middle. More than any other Irish journalist, Karlin Lillington knows the subtle side of data protection. She has written front page articles for The Irish Times about this theme and several of those items have syndicated to British and American titles. In her article, she says the pressure will be on "intermediaries such as internet service providers and mobile phone companies who manage the networks used by the individuals" to open "large swathes of user data" to government surveillance or court orders. This is a two-edged sword, because in being forced to monitor user activities, those phone companies or ISPs would sit on large piles of consumer behaviour that could be mined for business intelligence. By sitting on the elbow of an HP consultant, I know of one implementation of a dedicated mid-range system that is proving useful in haresting user clickstreams.
4. How to go green. Nearly every Fortune 150 company has an eco-aware or sustainability dimension to its annual reports now. Eco-aware is an enduring form of corporate social responsibility and at the Smurfit Business School, being really green is often elevated to the same level as conducting business in the most ethical way.
5. How to develop our own technology companies. "A huge issue for the Irish Government and for technologists around the country: how to encourage the growth of the indigenous technology industry in rough times. It has been hard enough during the Celtic Tiger to push homegrown companies into the medium leagues, much less break through to the big leagues." I have my own perspective on how home-grown technology should be developed but I don't draw down on an Enterprise Ireland paycheck--and more important, no State enterprise body has asked for my opinion. Perhaps Enterprise Ireland should sponsor a Bizcamp whereby people from all 32 counties could meet for a day's worth of conversations led by people from small Irish companies who have earned more than €10m in less than five years with no more than €1m of angel investment. There are good stories to be shared in that kind of session.