SIIA Information Industry Summit 2009: Thriving on Chaos: Profiting from the New New Era of Political, Economic and Technology Change
Moderator: Jim Kolleger, CEO, Genesys Partners, Inc.
Dan'l Lewin, Corporate VP, Microsoft, and Head, Strategic and Emerging Business Development
Neal Lipschutz, SVP and Managing Editor, Dow Jones Newswires
Steve Lohr, Senior Writer and Technology Reporter, The New York Times
Jon Miller, Founding Partner, Velocity Interactive Group, former CEO, AOL
Steve: Federal Reserve was the lender of last resort, now the Federal government will be the spender of last resort, but it will be a targeted approach, not just shoveling potholes. Anti-trust needs to be watched, new appointee, worked on Netscape/MSFT deal, anti-competitive practices will be scrutinized.
Jon: Our consumer business means impact, as seen in our recent financials, as enterprises cut back economic impact is in the long run optimistic, scaling out of seamless computing is good, very powerful smart devices, blending content that's user-created is key.
Neal: As long as this downturn is going to be, it's hard to go back to what we had before boom times, technology growth and disruption will make some sectors like finance risk-averse, jobs creation is going to be key but it's easier said than done. Free enterprise will be less so than recently.
Dan'l: EBITDAs aren't right, Ballmer's "reset" does not mean that they are going to go back to having companies trade at old levels.
(COMMENT: It's a shame that easy money propped up the valuation of fundamentally weak publishing properties for the past several years. This kept smart money from being spent more effectively on needed transformation in the industry. That doesn't mean that a good part of that transformation hasn't happened, it's just that so much investment was thrown at failing models.)
Neal: America is going to be less important now, opportunities may be greater outside of the U.S.
Steve Lohr: Isn't it amazing how the world fell off the cliff September 15th?
Jim: Money velocity has driven information velocity, will old media dollars be even digital dimes? "A new normal."
Steve: NYT approach is to double down, selling off portion of building, hope is that you can swim to the other shore. Online model that was supposed to help change from print is changing radically.
Neal: Business models will have to rely on quality content and subscription revenues.
Steve: Can the genie go back in the bottle once everyone decided to give it away?
Dan'l: Big believer in news business, not necessarily the newsPAPER business. News is proliferating, consumption never higher, I use 20-30 sources, many do. What model to get from there to there is not known, not supporting things now. The genie does not go back in the bottle.
Jim: Political change, were you suprised about going from X-Box to Atari in White House technology?
Dan'l: They think that digital can have a big impact on recovery plan, it's a question of how you go about it.
Jim: The tools of the teenager are now in the White House (COMMENT: Gentle jab, Jim, the teenagers grew up. It's young adults, now, that are driving social media growth). Organization for America, can be a force for good, but can ricochet, microscripts may embed themselves.
Steve: Obama admin message has been top-down and consistent, stuck with message, no panic when Hillary won in PA primary, in that sense very elitist. (COMMENT: It's different in social media, not a mater of polling strangers but of listening to people with whom you have relationship).
Jon: The polling methods of McCain who was going with where the wind blew showed through.
Jim: 37 billion of stimulus coming.
Steve: Health IT was 20 billion, broadband was 6, broadband will increase. Will not just throw money at things, pay per performance with metrics will rule. We've done this on a small scale so far, will be interesting to see where it goes.
(COMMENT: Interesting to see how this year's panel is really not about gadgets, as has been Jim's usual focus. It's now about what the technologies have done to change society. See "Content Nation" for more).
Jon: Now a matter of public discussion and policy to make more open and avialable content happening.
Jim: Other technology trends impacted by these issues?
Jon: Broadband is a big deal, more recent countries coming online have more, we're falling behind.
Neal: Some major cities will not have major newspapers in print, the trend will accelerate. If the downturn is longer, the trends will accelerate.
Dan'l: Fundamental trends, end of Moore's law, virtualization is starting to happen, lot of infrastrucutre going on, action in conversations at this conference is at the application level, but the data is where there's a lot of action. CIOs looking at where they will balance their infrastructure, where will the storage be, where will the backup be. New markets forming in education, global markets where infrastructure is growing. Won't see a pause. Robotics is hot, vision, spatial, voice interfaces, all of these are evolving rapidly.
Neal: The value of content will be there no matter what the technology, delivery mechanisms will change, but targeted content still valuable, though it may not include general news.
Jim: Always a new wrinkle, what's the new wrinkle?
Jon: Most recent is video and social networking on Web, before that Yahoo and AOL, goes in four-year waves, things do change. But the stuff that rises to the top isn't every day. The industry will continue to re-create itself over time, it's not the thousand little things. (COMMENT: Disagree. Reference the Museum of Modern Betas, where there are more than 4,000 new social media tools in four years. It's the little and the big and the little that become huge).
Jim: Huge changes for the industry?
Jon: iPhone was a huge change, most revolutionary was inclusion of Safari browser in iPhone (COMMENT: Agreed, the platform will be forgotten eventually, the Web will not be forgotten).
Jim: Where does workflow fit in?
Dan'l: Where you are is becoming increasingly important, your location and context is key, what comes to you is key, location-based services are growing, those kinds of services will surface soon. Notion of location in the cloud that's yours that synchronizes with friends' devices is being investigated at Microsoft, social networking is a little out of control, is it mostly noise.
Jon: Speaking up for consumer side, at end of 2008, consumer usage of Internet surpassed enterprise usage for first time (COMMENT: The world is indeed a nation of publishers!). Consumer applications are driving much of the Web use, that will work its way back.
Steve: Where would you invest?
Jon: As a consumer-oriented business, my whole thing is what the consumer is doing. Closed on sale of Expedia from Microsoft, over 3 billion, bad week, dot-com crash ended travel, no precedents, Barry Diller said will consumers continue to travel in the future, and if so will they do more of it using online tools. Video consumption is taking off, makes perfect sense as it is. On a worldwide basis, video consumption is still early days.
Jim: Jon, you ran AOL, how do you see online game playing out?
Jon: Two big trends, consolidation and breakups, content and distribution breaking up (COMMENT: Agreed, but depends in some sectors on availability of monetization tools).
Jim: If you're a company, what do you keep your eyes on, where are the opportunities?
Dan'l: Paying attention to lots of stuff, my particualr interest is to look at entrepreneurial activity and where the money goes to support them. Pragmatic answer as to how they help them. A pretty good bead on that side of global innovation. Larger concerns are there for acquisition, too. You'll see more of the same.
Jon: Mentioned video earlier, what are people doing in mobile environments, need to understand usage contours. iPhone apps, haven't yet understood behaviors, will be profound in a lot of ways.
Steve: iPhone was not an original idea, why couldn't Microsoft do it?
Dan'l: We should have, we'll play catch up. Microsoft is a "hundred flowers bloom" approach to platform, not the tight store and service integration of Apple, historically.
Great panel as always, high-level discussions like this are not always productive but Jim manages to keep them well-focused.
Labels: events, innovation, SIIA Information Industry Summit 2009, technology