I just got back from my trip last week to the Boston and surrounding areas. Of course the Celtics Lakers were the big story, but I found myself contrasting the two regions from a tech angle and it’s relevance to how business is changing.
Over the past decade Boston has fallen behind while Silicon Valley has been branded as creating the dot com bust. So I was thinking where are the two regions today? Is Boston relevant? Has New York become the new east coast meca for startups and innovation? What about DC? What about Austin? Even Boulder seems to have some movement?
With all the young and older talent in Boston, can they reclaim a spot at the top of the technology regions?
Boston has a ton of potential. I predict Boston will be a sleeper in the upcoming tech boom mostly around cloud and mobile apps. There is just too much talent in the Boston area and it’s fueled by the young graduates emerging from the colleges and universities. New York will be a factor, but I see New York as only being a blip in the radar in terms of ongoing leadership and presence. The main reason is that New York has taken advantage of how slow Boston has moved in terms of investing in young companies and being tech savvy.
Workforce Of The Future
Silicon Valley is still #1 in tech. Not much debate there. However, many are talking about how the role of the real time distributed web is changing the dynamics of the notion of startup investing. One area that isn’t being talked about is the dynamics of the notion of “workforce development”. Many companies big and small (e.g. SiliconAngle) have distributed workforces.
Boston and other areas are becoming more and more compelling to employ remote “virtual” workforces. This new distributed strategy has many benefits that bring value to startups and growing companies. Value in terms of overall lower cost structures for companies, increased cultural perspectives, productivity around timezones, and many others. In the past the management of remote personnel has always been a big problem. Today that is completely changed with the real time web and the current crop of technology. Making matters even more compelling is that this trend is literally embryonic. Or as some say “it’s the bottom of the first inning”.
Now with real time activity streams and Skype video, a manager can effectively manage employees and their performance. This is a big opportunity that I see for Skype. They can own the small and medium business market as they continue to innovate their technology and video in particular. Many more opportunities like this existing in every facet of convergence: enterprise, cloud, systems, mobile, apps, etc. It’s a massive boom for developers and a counterculture is developing.
Certainly Silicon Valley trumps the east coast in terms of overall tech leadership, but the role of the real time distributed web is changing the dynamics of the notion of “workforce”.
My Angle: Consumerization of Everything Not Just IT
Trends that I’m watching in this new workforce and productivity market around convergence:
1) Devices: Blackberry is under pressure as the leader in the business phone; new smartphones iPhone and Android will fit this market;
2) Virtualization, Cloud, and Software as a Service: companies using Microsoft Exchange will feel the pressure to move to Google or equivalent platform for all work related productivity; SAP and Oracle on the high end; IBM and HP for the medium sized enterprise; Video conferencing like Skype
3) Mobile Apps and Networking: edge based software will be tied directly to network computing paradigms; this includes the home and consumer market.
4) Smart Storage and Compute Systems: companies building open source and scalable systems like Cloudera and EMC will be the central theme in making data the new corporate and personal asset; this will create some big changes how the market is structured
5) Social Media: this is not what people think it is; this isn’t about being popular on Twitter or having a Facebook page. Instead this is about new emerging brands and technologies from blogging, video, collaboration, real time data, data warehousing/business intelligence, and entertainment among others.
6) Datacenter Operating System: this is the area that will be very fun and interesting to watch because it’s a big money market for the existing whales like IBM, HP, and others. It’s changing. The datacenter is a battleground for new models. In particular one that is very trendy right now is the optimization of components in the datacenter to construct a datacenter operating system.
The future is unwritten. It’s a fun time.