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Dr. Paul Kedrosky (Rosa Park for The Globe and Mail/The Globe and Mail)
Dr. Paul Kedrosky (Rosa Park for The Globe and Mail/The Globe and Mail)

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Futurist peers into his crystal smartphone Add to ...

Dr. Paul Kedrosky doesn’t do paper.

The entrepreneur, venture capitalist, Bloomberg contributor and senior fellow with the renowned Kauffman Foundation in Kansas City, Mo., politely rejected business cards during his appearance at the Deloitte Canada 2011 Technology, Media & Telecommunications Predictions event.

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For Dr. Kedrosky, it’s digital only, please.

After his discussion, he offered insights about technology and its potential impact with Report on Business.

Toys and tools

“All innovations in their early days look like toys, like people just messing around,” says Dr. Kedrosky.

He believes business should track new technologies rather than dismiss them. “Think of the reaction of the average CEO to Facebook or Twitter or even a Zynga,” he says. This has happened, he says, despite the fact that Facebook has amounted to “this colossal rewiring of our whole business infrastructure at the level of data.”

Computing utility

Cloud computing is another technology Dr. Kedrosky heralds, this one as the solution to a big problem for business: Computers.

A computer at work is no different than “running a power plant in my basement,” he says. “We don’t run power plants in our basements; we rely on utility companies to provide us with power. What’s happening with computing in clouds is it’s turning computing into a utility again.”

While Dr. Kedrosky doesn’t see cloud computing as a utility like the days of mainframes, he says it’s a utility again in the sense that it’s there when you need it, you can use as much or as little as you want and it’s metered.

In business, “maybe I won’t need as many people or I can refocus them on other things like actually building software that I need as opposed to having all these people running around my organization updating Microsoft Word all day long,” says Dr. Kedrosky.

Television = obsolete?

One area where Dr. Kedrosky’s predictions clashed with Deloitte’s TMT predictions was television. Where Deloitte foresaw television solidifying its status as the current super media in 2011, Dr. Kedrosky sees its imminent obsolescence.

“We’ve all been predicting the demise of television, and the emergence of a new class of people who consume services like Netflix,” says Dr. Kedrosky, who is a Netflix subscriber himself.

Wireless

When it comes to wireless, Dr. Kedrosky says there’s a lot of sex appeal to the idea that each evolution of the network brings far faster speeds

“The difference between 3.5G and 4G, particularly speeds of data communication, isn’t that great right now,” he says. “The average consumer who’s picking up a wireless device and doing the things they normally do likely won’t notice any difference.”

Obsolescence

What technology is likely to go the way of Beta-Max and floppy disks?

“The thing we call feature phones – non-smart phones or old flip phones – feel like they’re circling the drain,” says Dr. Kedrosky.

“There’s no economic rationale any more for going with the old phones. Drug cartels used them in feature films because they could just dispose of them at the end of whatever crazy mission they were on, but now there’s no reason not to see the smart phone widely adopted.”

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