The analysts at Gartner gathered together some of the IT industry’s finest brains for a keynote on Tuesday at the Gartner Symposium and IT Expo in Las Vegas to look into some of the future innovations we should look out for. In a wide ranging session, researchers from Sun Microsystems, HP, Cisco and Xerox talked about the projects their labs are working on.
Xerox, as you would expect, are doing amazing things with paper, especially re-usable paper. They have come up with one idea based on “similar technology to that which allows your glasses to go darker in sunlight”. By giving paper the same treatment, it is possible to re-use the paper 1,000 times, according to Steve Hoover who is a vice-president at Xerox research. Since paper costs 100 times the price of the ink that is printed on it, according to Hoover, and will cost only three times more than regular paper when being used in this process, it a is fine idea. However, it is a technology that has been written about before, and the labs at Xerox are still working on it, Hoover said. Still, when paper is, on average, only used for one day before being thrown out, according to Xerox, in these greener days it must be an idea worth pursuing to the end.
Sun Microsystems is working on an idea that could mean that future processors are much more powerful than today’s processors but are crammed into even less space and with less use of power. Cisco continues to work on perfecting telepresence while HP is exploiting the move to provide the same easy to use tools that people have become used to at home (thanks to their kids) such as IM and other ways of communicating other than email, and bringing them to the enterprise.
I hope to writed about the debate properly in the next few daysm but can give you the chairman's last question. It was a good one. "What do you think is the single most important thing your company needs to drive innovation forward”.
For HP’s Richard Friedrich, the company’s director for Open Innovation, it was “strong leadership to drive innovation forward” and he praised the company’s chief executive, Mark Hurd. Ity was not the most robust answer he could have given and might even be regarded in some quarters as a blatant effor to talk the boss into more budget. Well, on second thoughts, for a man in research there is probable no harm in that.
Friedrich did also highlight the fact that the majority of projects that got cancelled were over-budget. Storing leadership of projects was part of the key, he felt.
Sun Labs’ David Douglas followed on the argument, by pointing out that Sun Microsystems’ Labs undertook ambitious, high-risk investments such as research into advanced processor design. At some point, the company would have to make the call on whether a project was to be developed or canned. Strong management was of vital importance in making these calls, he thought.
Guido Jouret, chief technology officer for the Cisco Emerging Technology Group, thought it was that while there were many things occupying the IT managers attention, from green IT to compliance, these were not too difficult to understand or to work out strategies to deal with them. The key issue, he felt, was finding ways to get the right structures in place to exploit “the real, business transforming technology innovations”.
For Xerox’s Hoover the key point was much simpler than any of that. “The simplest advice I can give them (IT managers) is the oldest advice. Know your business and know your customers.”.