Reflecting on a Decade of Changes in Tech

Includes: GOOG, MSFT, SBUX
by: Jeffrey M. Kaplan

As 2009 comes to an end and a fresh round of snow blankets the Boston area, I’ve found myself reflecting on the past decade with varying emotions.

Here’s a random list of some of the ways the tech industry and our world has changed over the past ten years,

  1. We’ve moved from concerns about Y2k to learning how to cope with Gen-Y, or the Millennials.
  2. The failed ideas about Application Service Providers (ASPs) have bred a new generation of far more successful Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) vendors.
  3. The overly complex and exceedingly costly concept of ‘utility computing’ has given way to the incredibly exciting and far more cost-effective possibilities of ‘cloud computing’.
  4. Despite concerns about an over-saturation of ‘dark’ fiber, the proliferation of broadband networks has made the ubiquitous web and social networking possible.
  5. Vmail and email have been supplanted by text and Twitter.
  6. Netscape has been replaced by Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) as the company most feared by Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT).
  7. Tradeshows have been replaced by telebriefings and telepresence.
  8. Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) and the spare bedroom are now corporate offices.
  9. Secretaries have been replaced by smartphones.
  10. The phone company is offering entertainment and the cable company is offering phone services.
  11. Full-time employment is now a backlog of projects spread across multiple employers.
  12. The Boston Red Sox won the World Series…twice! But, the Yankees also did it twice…to open and close the decade.
  13. 911 now brings 9/11 to mind for nearly every American.

I founded THINKstrategies about 75 days after 9/11. The start-up I was previously a part of had decided to fold its tent and times were tough. We were in a period filled with plenty of fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD).

Despite the demise of the era and the failures of ASPs, I believed the world was about to change. Technology was too complicated and costly. But, it was also becoming far more powerful and flexible. Innovative companies were already beginning to deploy technology as services.

In 2001, I believed there was an opportunity to help vendors, buyers and investors better understand the business implications of this transition of the technology industry from being product-centric to a services-oriented model. THINKstrategies was founded with this ideal in mind.

I’ve had the privilege and pleasure of working with a wide array of clients over the past eight years, from entrepreneurs still working off a napkin to name-brand corporations trying to reposition themselves in the market. In 2009, I did business with over 100 companies!

As 2010 approaches, we are at another crossroad. The economy is still languishing. Jobs are still being lost. Terrorism is still on everyone’s minds. And, the double-edged qualities of technological advancements are creating exciting new opportunities even as they disrupt many traditional businesses.

I’ll offer my predictions for the new year and decade in my next blogpost. In the meantime, thanks to all for your interest and support.

Let me know what the past ten years have meant to you and what you think the future will bring to our industry.