3 min read

The Futurist

A glimpse into the not-so-distant future of the computing channel from one of the most sought-after keynote speakers and consultants in the industry

Jim Carroll is not a tech guy anymore. The renowned author, consultant, columnist and keynote speaker is a futurist

The former Computing Canada columnist has been uncovering practical trends that will happen in the future. What’s in store for people in the next 20 years? Well, how about a baseball bat with a microprocessor inside or bio connectivity for the healthcare industry.

CDN asked Carroll to give our readers a snapshot of what to look forward to.

CDN: In the next 20 years what will come of the high tech industry?

Jim Carroll: I still think the biggest thing going on today is how we put technology in a box. Everyone knows about open source and it will be far bigger than anyone thinks. And we now live in a browser world. I can do anything without a big clunky thing on my desktop. From a desktop perspective it is stunning what the next two years will bring.

The network is the computer, like (Sun CEO) Scott McNealy said. There will be slim machines with a browser and I can do anything. This is happening faster than you think. CDs are from the old days.

When I was speaking at the Fibre-To-The-Home council, people there talked about 100 Mbps to the home. I described the advancements in optical networking are such that we will be dealing with petabyte capacity. Consumers will be demanding it. YouTube was not on the radar screen a year ago and you know what? YouTube will be yesterday’s news. There will be something else. The pace of technology change in and of itself will be that people just can’t keep up with how rapidly things come out.

CDN: What does the future hold for technology solution providers?

J.C.: They’ve got to stop focusing on products and start focusing on what they try to do. Companies are out there and they write an article that says: ‘Does your company need CRM?’

That’s not what you want to focus on. What is the business impact?

They are dealing with furious changes in the market and need a sales force that is lean and mean. There are whole and big problems that need to be fixed and the technology industry sits back with this inane focus on product suites. They still have it wrong.

They have to talk the language of the business executive, (but) when they do get something big they put a label on it such as software as a service (SaaS). They have to put it in a box and put the spin machine on it. They should not think that way. Executives deal with company problems in video game speed.

Did you know that 40 to 50 per cent of the revenue of games is in the first four days? They have to have up-to-the second insight and find out where every single SKU is. That is a problem that needs a solution, (but) technology dealers go out and say ‘We have this product.’

CDN: Does it matter if they are from Canada or is this a common problem all over the world?

J.C.: Common problem? No, it is a Canadian problem. I have met with CFOs and CEOs of big companies and there is a huge attitude difference with the U.S. and Canada. We are so freaking slow up here. We are not thinking the same way. Today it is about velocity and it is about video game intensity.

I talk to IT groups of Canadian companies and it was like sitting in a room back in the ‘eighties with COBOL coders. The difference with IT minds of the two nations is absolutely astounding.

CDN: Will the direct model die or prevail?

J.C.: Well, I have, lets see . . . one, two, three Dell laptops and another Dell upstairs. I use it to buy other stuff. I know Dell is getting crucified in the press, but my PC is three years old and I’ve had several problems with it.

And I order parts to repair it from Dell and I usually get them in a few days. It is another freaking machine now. I think the (direct) model works.

On the other hand, the biggest challenge for Dell is the PC. The PC is going to disappear.

In a few years we will be buying a tiny thing with Fibre Channel capacity that you plug into a wall. Look at the USB keys. There will be a USB key with 100Gbs in a year. In 10 years time will we buy a box? Probably not.