Ten Years of Innovation

02/16/2011 by Justin Edelstein
A look at one of my favorite Marc Benioff keynote lines and reflection on three ways that technology has changed in the last 10 years and how it has really changed the way I live my life.
It always makes me think when during one of his highly anticipated keynote speeches Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff talks about how the technology industry changes greatly over a ten year span. As he mentions, the industry is always overestimating what you can do in one year but constantly underestimates what can be done in ten. He uses this phrase to point out that technology is ever evolving and that cloud computing allows you as a user to ride the wave of innovation and not have to necessarily "keep up with the times" as the sheer fact that your leveraging the cloud will afford you the ability to stay current without really thinking about it. Instant upgrades, scalability and elasticity, security, and system optimization are things that you just don't have to think about. There are many technologies that have evolved over the last ten years but I thought I would pick three that have really made strides and have changed beyond my wildest imagination.


I Want My HDTV

I can still remember watching Yankee games on my 13" television set. I often times think to myself, how did I even see the game? When I upgraded to a "large" 32" tube I thought to myself, wow, I have a big TV, this is awesome! Little did I know that a 32" TV would soon be considered small and the tube would be obselete. The first High Definition televisions were available in the United States in 1998 but there was little to no content. Who would have thought that over the last ten years the majority of people have an HDTV and almost every channel is broadcasted in HD. I honestly can't imagine watching an action packed movie on HBO or a football game on a standard definition TV ever again.

I Want Everything Yesterday

About ten years ago now I got my first cell phone. It was a bit bulky and it had keys on it just like a regular cordless phone. It was amazing to me that I could be in the middle of nowhere and all of a sudden a phone in my pocket, connected to nothing, could start ringing and I could communicate like I was home. I also remember sending my first SMS (text) messages and started to get really good at typing words on the standard phone keypad. This was the start of real-time collaboration for me - it was like instant messaging on the go. Now before I get out of bed in the morning I pick up my iPhone and check my email, my Twitter, Facebook, and download a podcast for my commute to work. Oh, did I mention that I also use the iPhone to actually wake me up using the alarm clock. I walk around with a computer as powerful as the laptop I used in college and I use it as a multi-faceted real-time constantly-connected communication device. With the advances to mobile devices over the last ten years I can run my business and my personal life - just about everything - from a thin portable communication device that fits in my pocket.

Awesome Apps Please

Of course the last topic I am going to touch upon is cloud computing and the advancement of running applications in the cloud. Ten years ago who would have thought that entire businesses could be run from a technology perspective without owning a single server. If you would have talked to an IT executive in 2001 they would have said that you are crazy. There were some services available like Webex and of course Salesforce.com but they were fledgling - nobody could have predicted that they would not only be major Software as a Service (SaaS) vendors but in addition to that there would be IaaS and PaaS players infiltrating the enterprise at a staggering pace. The industry has taken such a turn that at this point you wouldn't even start a business without saying "what CAN'T I use cloud computing for" rather then the exact opposite which is how people thought ten years ago.

The Times They Are a-Changin

Benioff hits the nail on the head, with technology things are always advancing, always innovating, and always changing. Even these three examples though are likely to change a great deal over the next ten years. Who knows what might happen with 3D TVs - maybe we won't need those glasses soon? Mobile Devices are getting smarter and smarter by the year - soon enough we might not even need laptops or desktops - we may just have phones and tablets. As for cloud computing, we are still at the very begining of a movement. Ten years from now we may be at the point where no business at all is operating without large portions of their processes living in the cloud. What might that cloud even look like - will it be collaborative, social, and open? All likely and I dare not guess the rest.
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