As seen in Global Corporate Venturing, January 2015 issue.
Predictions are a dime a dozen at this time of year, but they are fun to do. I love my job at Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) because I spend much of the day talking to people who are at the top of their game in their fields and view the world as a place ripe for change. Technology cannot solve all our problems, but it can go a long way to making our lives better. Personally, I could not be more excited to know you can now print chocolate delicacies with a 3D printer – chocolate on demand works for me.
- With machine learning, big data and analytics all converging, you will not need me to make predictions next year – a machine can do it. Seriously, an algorithm will ultimately do a better job.
- Corporate accelerators are on the rise – often in conjunction with accelerator professionals. This is a good way for corporates to access the early stage and gain a view over the horizon.
- Corporates are now investing more than 25% of funds in earlier series A and B rounds and are an integral part of the ecosystem, starting at the earliest stage, and that looks set to continue in 2015.
- Innovation is the best defence against cyber-criminals, and there is ample opportunity here for humans and machines to put a crimp in their sordid business. The new mantra – there is no such thing as 100% security, the key is to manage the risk effectively.
- Forget the cloud – space really is the new frontier for tech. Not space shots for tourists but the promise of space research 21st-century style. Move over Tang and Teflon. A serious question overheard at a recent Silicon Valley tech gather was: "What is your space strategy?"
- Back on earth, more of us will become even more interested – for some, obsessed – with our quantified selves, using wireless monitoring technology to keep tabs on our health and habits. It will be fascinating to see the spin-out businesses as a result of all that information.
- Personalised medicine is getting hotter. SVB's healthcare team is reporting a rise in investor interest in diagnostics and tools companies, as micro-technology advances allow for the delivery of actionable data in real time.
- My world of banking is on the brink of major change, too. In late 2014, we saw alternative credit companies go public, which will open the door for more in 2015. A recent SVB survey of marketplace companies confirmed finance, healthcare and education sectors are most likely to see shake-ups based on the online marketplace model.
- New vertical marketplaces and expansion based on mobile adoption will continue to change how we access and consume all types of services. The survey also found these companies see balancing supply and demand as their greatest issue, and establishing trust with their users.
- Customer is king –while changes in technology and consumer behaviour are setting the stage for marketplaces to thrive, online reputations are becoming a more reliable indication of offline trustworthiness, and consumer satisfaction initiatives may become as important as product innovation, though the two go hand in hand.
- Living in our connected worlds, we easily forget that around two-thirds of the world's populations still have no reliable, if any, connection to the Internet. Still, global mobile data traffic grew by 81% in 2014, according Mobile Future. In 2015, there will be even more pressure on the mobile infrastructure to keep up.
- Back to space, Elon Musk is talking about launching a fleet of 700 micro-satellites to provide data access in the farthest reaches. Google is working on a balloon solution and Facebook on drone solutions.
- Overall, entrepreneurs are in the driver's seat. The cost of starting companies in general will continue to drop. But scaling will bring challenges, particularly when it comes to hiring specialised engineers. Anybody with data scientist on their resume can probably continue to write their own ticket.
- The same is not always true for women. The lack of women in technology got a lot of attention in 2014. SVB launched a series of interviews with female entrepreneurs: http://www.svb.com/women-in-technology/
Now Google, Entertainment Industries Council and the National Center for Women in Information Technology are partnering to offer a new award in 2015: best portrayal of women in tech.
And look out for CODE, a documentary on the gender gap due out in a few months.
- The consumer electronic and mobile shows are going to kick off 2015 with a kaleidoscope of wearables, and a host of exciting new technology. I am hoping this year brings the wearable outfit that doesn't need to go to the dry cleaner.
In summary, whether you prefer to disrupt, invent or engineer, I predict 2015 will be very exciting but will require all of us to be vigilant and on our toes. The innovation cycle only has one gear – super-fast.