About the time Jeff Nolan was publishing his post last week on "incrementalism", a client was asking me "so, what's new in technology?" and I led him from A for Apple iPhone to Z for Zoho.
Jeff wrote: "The Valley (where he lives) thrives on the new new thing (possibly one of the most poignantly titled books ever) and with every turn of a generation there is an awkward moment where we’re just figuring out where we’ve been but have yet to see where we are going… right now is that moment."
Away from the Valley, I see 3 different views of "where we are going"
a) Enterprise adoption of all the recent innovation
For a while now I have been concerned about the innovation "glut" - too many technologies chasing for too few innovation dollars. While I think bigger vendors spend too much on sales and marketing, most younger companies just want to keep rolling out cool stuff, not pushing for their adoption in the enterprise. As Jeff himself is helping the company he is now with - Newsgator. Selling enterprises on the new world of RSS. What this also means is a more aggressive positioning against incumbent vendors. As I have said many times, there is no magic "innovation" IT budget. You have to show the CIO and business executives ways to chisel existing spend to justify budgets for your cool stuff.
b) "Multi-channel Mashups"
I find most technology companies very siloed.The really big ahas in recent times have come when two or three categories of technologies and trends have been mashed up to create a whole new value proposition. SaaS mashed software functionality and application hosting and maintenance services. Telepresence is taking advantage of advances in high-definition displays and high speed, highly reliable bandwidth across major global regions. Listen to Steve Jobs and he talks about his competitive advantage comes from owing both the software stack and the hardware. Go see the 40+ categories of technologies I track on the New Florence blog. The next big wave of innovations will come from mashing products from 2-3-4 of those hardware, software, telecom and service categories.
c) Innovation in other global nodes
As I wrote recently, the Valley is First among equals. If it slows down in innovation, there are plenty of other places around the world which will pick up slack. Valley entrepreneurs and VCs can and should contribute elsewhere. They have become more global since the last slowdown but I still see too much Californication.
So, I have a broader view of "where we are going" and am actually pretty excited about "what's next"