Happy New Year to all! Like every year I am writing about the technology areas I will be following and focusing on during 2011. These areas build upon those my partners and I followed during 2010. During the holidays I wrote about online advertising, mobile and social web as areas Trident will continue to target.
- Tablets and smartphones. In a couple of days I’ll be heading to CES where I expect that several vendors will be introducing new tablets and smartphones targeting different customer segments. My interest around these devices centers on the platforms they support, e.g., HTML5, novel features they will incorporate, e.g., NFC, the new types of applications these features will enable, e.g., mobile wallets, and the types of data they will be generating. Tablets and smartphones are sensor platforms.
- Cloud computing, SaaS, and virtualization. Cloud computing was one of the biggest technology trends for 2010 and corporations continued to virtualize their data centers (see my comments from the Goldman conference). Cloud management and management of virtualized environments are two important areas we are targeting. Cloud management in particular is becoming a hot space. We just lost a deal in this area after significant competition with two other venture firms. I am also following closely the evolution of PaaS platforms and the SaaS applications they will be enabling, particularly now that enterprises have started aggressively adopting SaaS applications and developing their own cloud-based applications. We will continue looking for context-aware, social (see below) and vertical SaaS applications. In 2010 we invested in Acclaris (healthcare IT) but passed on several others.
- App stores and application models. I am watching how the app store is developing as a general purpose applicaiton distribution mechanism. App stores are moving beyond smartphones (see what Apple is doing with the Mac App Store) into other consumer electronics devices, e.g., TVs, cars, (another area I’ll be watching at CES) and finally the enterprise. An area of interest is application discovery within app stores. As the number of applications offered by an app store increases, identifying those with the functionality that is appropriate for a particular task or specific business process will become very important. Finally, between the proliferation of app stores and the more extensive use of PaaS for application development we see a new model emerging for enterprise application delivery and licensing. Enterprise application functionality will be developed in much smaller chunks and will be priced accordingly, very much like it is happening today in smartphones.
- Social computing for the enterprise. We are focusing on three areas within social computing for the enterprise: customer service where I think there is opportunity for significant innovation in business settings, marketing, where word of mouth and friend referral programs are proving very effective for B2C and B2B businesses, and Facebook ecommerce, because so many companies are now setting up their stores within Facebook. We are rethinking the workflows and business processes as we try to better understand how social computing can be used effectively in the enterprise.
- Big data and analytics. We will be moving from just collecting and managing/organizing big data (web site data, social data, mobile data, data from the Internet of Things) to thinking how to effectively analyze it. In-memory analytics, Hadoop, Google’s Percolator are technologies we follow. Privacy and security will be important data-related issues that started coming to fore during 2010 and will remain so during 2011. While I don’t expect to see technology-driven solutions to these issues, I anticipate that during 2011 we will need to engage in healthy dialogs about what data privacy in today’s environment really means.