1. Computing will become ever more distributed. This refers to cloud computing, but also to the idea that processing power, storage, memory, and even code can be spread across multiple networks and multiple geographic areas, yet still deliver value. One company I saw, 80legs, has software that crawls the Web with the help of tens of thousands of computers that donate CPU power when they’re idle. Talk about rebellious.
2. Raw data will become actionable data. All sorts of companies are talking about aggregating, slicing, analyzing, and compiling data from the dozens of social media sources out there, Twitter included. Talk centered on “activity streams” that express everything we’re doing online. Maybe that’s candy for the digital voyeurs among us, but I’m not sure there’s much value in publishing such streams. Regardless, it seems clear that we’ll see more data organized socially — perhaps like what Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) proposes with its new social network, Buzz.
3. More customer control. Doc Searls, a co-author of the 1999 landmark book and website The Cluetrain Manifesto, put it best to me in a conversation on the first night of Defrag. “I want to get to the point where demand leads supply.” He wants customers, not vendors, to take control.
The standing pin is in point #2. What we want is for people to control data personally, not just socially. Having “social” data may help you think you can paint a better target on a customer’s back; but it doesn’t make you any more friendly to the customer. And it won’t win you individual hearts and minds either. Improving a pain in the ass doesn’t make it a kiss.
If demand leads supply, as Tim and I agree about in point #3, customers need to be the points of integration for their own data, and the points of origination for what gets done with it. When that happens, pin #2 gets knocked down by #3.
The means are not yet here, but they will be. And once they are, there will be many new places for Motley Fool readers to place their bets.