Monthly Archives: September 2011

Connecting Silicon Valley with Developing Nations


President Obama has just introduced a Job Creation package to get the U.S. economy going, but it overlooks a major factor:  U.S. exports to developing nations in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Mideast.  These regions are growing fast due to their young populations, China’s importing of raw materials, and liberalized trading.  But most U.S. firms are hesitant to expand to these challenging regions.   What are the best ways to explore them?  Here are tips based on earlier Silicon Valley experience with Asia’s “Four Tigers” and China:

- Connect with professional organizations and trade offices from these nations to develop contacts and regional knowledge.

- Find expat business and technical professionals from these regions who have educational and work experience in their home countries and the U.S.. They can serve as cultural brokers.

- Find college and graduate student interns from these nations who can help with market surveys, marketing plans, and due diligence through their network of friends and professionals in their home nations

- Get RSS feeds about your target markets, join or start Linkedin and Facebook groups, and connect with business websites from those regions.  Engage with professionals there to learn more about various business opportunities.

With the Internet, it’s much easier to learn about developing regions so there’s no excuse nowadays for not exploring them.

Why explore them?  An anecdote:   An Intentac Fellow who is a Mideast doctor bought an African wireless service years ago, even though his colleagues laughed that he knew little about Africa or mobile services.  Three years ago, his service went public on London’s AIM market at $2.5 billion and the laughing stopped. Morale:  Never let cowardice discourage you from exploring new markets.


Personal Analytics: The Next New Thing


The explosion in social media, mobile apps, and video content is creating an ocean of information that is making it harder to follow, let alone find things.  Within the last few months, IBM has invested $12 billion in acquiring companies in “Big Data” analytics, which is forecast to reach $15 billion by 2015.  Like the Internet boom in the mid-1990s, we’re in the midst of the Next New Thing in information technologies:  Personal Analytics.   Social media companies such as Twitter and Facebook are already adding analytics to help their users surf the digital tsunami.

What does this mean for you and your business?  Where are the new entrepreneurial and startup opportunities?   Here are my thoughts and observations:

- Personal analytics will become a hot new field, with dozens of startups popping up soon.  Analytics will reflect your Internet and smartphone usage, so data will be filtered by your previous actions, current interests and recommendations from friends, family and colleagues.

- Augmented reality (AR) on smartphones will add analytics, especially for users who add accessories such as biochemical sensors and microscopes, so you’ll be able to analyze what you’re seeing in terms of history, social context, or any other filter.

- RSS-like softbots will free you up by doing all the hard work of searching, analyzing and displaying data graphically in real time so you can spend your time analyzing, testing, and simulating scenarios.  You’ll be able to run what-if scenarios for work and leisure.  What-if social gaming will become a new genre.

- Location-based, real-time analytics will become pervasive for everything from retailing and socializing to law enforcement and education.  By letting the cloud do all the heavy lifting, we’ll be freed up to focus on what’s important.  Entire new businesses and industries will emerge around “flash analytics” that provides instant analysis of emerging trends, whether it be a traffic jam, flu epidemic or discount sales.

Probably these services will start as simple mobile apps, then expand into community-generated services and content.  Dog lovers, fashionistas, NASCAR fans, and green market vendors will all create their own services around Personal Analytics, which will enable them to tailor their services for each customer.

This is a pretty exciting new field so post your comments when you see something exciting.



Boredom and “Golden Clouds”: The Next New Thing in Social Networking?


What’s the Next New Thing?  I’m a member of the Blue Revolution team in Hawaii, even though I work in San Francisco, which is exploring Ocean Thermal Energy (OTEC).  Recently, retired Hawaiian professionals have been writing long emails and getting into heated debates over a variety of topics.  What’s going on?  Why the long-winded discussions and tirades?

My theory is that the aging society is creating a large population of bored, educated, talented people who want to socialize and keep their minds alert by discussing major political, environmental, social and economic issues.  Think “Email University”.

In the past, I’ve tripped over social needs that triggered technological breakthroughs — Mosaic, MP3 player, YouTube.  This time the major social need is BOREDOM.  Due to retirement and recession, there are hundreds of millions of people sitting around bored, isolated and frustrated by the lack of intellectual stimulation and social interaction, thus the long email discussions.

Thus, I sense a major opportunity:  online forums running on the cloud.  IBM, HP, Amazon and others are developing cloud services, but most are targeted at business, government and retail applications.  There’s little talk of using them for socializing, discussing or intellectualizing to overcome boredom.  This is a huge missed opportunity for IT service companies.  My bet is that we’ll see a boom in online cloud forums as the baby boomer hits retirement in volume (8,000 hitting 60 per minute now) — “Golden Clouds”?