I just flew in from Orlando and, boy, are my ears tired. No, that's not a Disney-inspired Dumbo joke. I just spent the last few days at Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2013, where I did a lot of listening to what CIOs are up to and what they should be planning for and thinking about in the coming year(s). In the weeks ahead, my colleague Nicole Laskowski and I will be sharing info, insights and CIO stories gathered from the conference and its participants, but herein are a few tidbits and observations to tide you over.
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Tech trends have a touch of sci-fi. The rise of 3D printing and smart machines are going to affect enterprises in ways you might not yet have considered. For example, when anyone can make anything -- or copy anything -- how will patent laws be adjusted? How will you authenticate your own products? What about government intervention when it comes to copying things like tissue and organs? Yeah, you think printing is a pain now, just wait. As far as smart machines, we're already starting to see the move toward computers that learn instead of process. Gartner predicts that 10% of computers will be "learners" by 2017.
Data privacy is overrated. Google's executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, would like to remind you that American companies have to follow American laws. In a keynote chat with Gartner analysts, Schmidt reiterated that Google won't give up your info to the feds unless legally obligated. (This earned him a shout-out from Rackspace and Amazon legal eagles appearing on a panel later in the week.) Besides, he added, a great deal of the data floating around is pretty useless, a sentiment that popped up more than once in a variety of sessions. Besides, who needs data privacy when there's money to be made by taking it public? Gartner predicts that by 2017, 80% of consumers will collect, track and barter their personal data for cost savings, convenience and customization.
Continued cloudiness. It's not surprising -- and a stroll along the crowded expo floor proves it -- there is a cloud solution for everything imaginable -- and unimaginable. Have you heard of copy data management? I hadn't. If you haven't either, you will soon enough. Speaking of the crowded expo floor, that's where I met up with MetroPCS CIO Kevin Broadway for a chat about what he's doing in the cloud. Long story short: everything. I'll be sharing the long version soon.
Innovation, innovation and more innovation. Whoever said there's nothing new under the sun would probably never make it as a CIO. So what's the best general approach to innovation? For Google's Eric Schmidt, it's bottom up. Remember, it was the company's "20% time" that led to Gmail. Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) CIO Alexander Pasik would certainly agree. After a couple of failed attempts at prodding people to innovate, darn it, he forgot about focus groups and consultants. Instead, he followed his long-honed instincts and plucked the one guy he just had a feeling might have a great idea or two and gave him one job: Find a problem and solve it. He did, and now IEEE is on the verge of something big. I'm looking forward to sharing more of that story soon.
This edition of the Searchlight roundup touches on these topics that were hot in Orlando this week, and more, starting off with a feat of innovation from none other than the magical imaginations of Disney.
- What would it be like if your touchscreen sorta touched you back? Researchers at Disney Labs in Pittsburgh have the answer.
- How to make smart machines smarter? Qualcomm this week announced it's making chips that mimic the neural structures and processing methods found in the human brain.
- Innovation doesn't always equal new; sometimes it's all about making a necessary item better. So, leave it to former Apple engineers to build a better -- and more attractive -- smoke alarm.
- To celebrate its 15th anniversary tech site, Ars Technica offered up its top 15 companies that have led and continue to lead in technology innovation.
- Just in case the U.S. economy isn't messed up enough, hundreds of American companies could be endangering European trade relations by lying about data privacy. But hasn't the EU heard that data privacy is no biggie?
- Fujitsu is getting into the agriculture business -- no rain required, but clouds play a big role.
Let us know what you think about the story; email Karen Goulart, senior features writer.