MARC BENIOFF, CHAIRMAN & CEO, SALESFORCE.COM:
Q: What major technology issues today will become inconsequential or significantly less important in the future?
A: Upgrades, integration, and maintenance issues become issues of the past with on-demand computing and open APIs that enable simpler and more effective use of Web service technology. On-demand technology also engenders a higher level of success -- for example, companies don't continue to pay the electric company if the electricity isn't working. By the same token, the on-demand service model requires high performance and 24/7 delivery. The abysmal failure rates of major software implementations will become a thing of the past.
Q: What transformative technologies will be coming down the pike in the next 25 years, and when do you think those will happen?
A: On-demand computing: Companies are realizing more and more they no longer have to tie themselves to large software investments. Such growing awareness is already forcing software companies and system integrators to change the way they do business. The risk shifts from the customer back to provider.
Wireless: As mobile applications continue to push the barriers on innovation, we will see more devices that connect people and every aspect of their lives no matter where they might be. Wireless will not only transform the way applications are built, but how we communicate and relate to each other on both personal and professional levels. Mobile devices will become easier to use, smaller, smarter and be integrated more effectively into our daily lives versus us conforming to our devices.
Biometrics: Although obviously still in the early stages of development, biometric technology has some exciting implications for identification, fraud prevention, security, and customer service application innovation.
Nanotechnology: Advances in nanotechnology will be critical in more precisely fashioning a new generation of products and goods that are cleaner, stronger, and lighter. Nanotechnology is literally transforming the way things are built.
Q: What obstacles need to be overcome before all Web applications become hosted?
A: We are entering the era of on-demand computing. As with any new technology, it will take time for the technology to fully mature and for education to penetrate the market, but ultimately we foresee everything transitioning to a service. Over the last four years, we have spent a great deal of time showing the market that hosted services are not only secure and reliable, but an all-around better business choice. A company doesn't dig a well or build an electric plant to access water and heat. The same goes for IT. More and more companies understand they don't have buy software to reap the benefits. Instead, they see they can use the power of the Internet to access all the resources they need securely, anytime, anywhere. Over the next few decades, we will see a transition -- the Amazons, Yahoos and salesforce.coms of the world will overtake the software behemoths and lead the way through the on-demand era.
BOB METCALFE, ETHERNET INVENTOR AND FORMER CEO OF INFOWORLD, NOW A GENERAL PARTNER AT POLARIS VENTURE PARTNERS:
Q: Can you take a stab at labeling the technology eras of the future, out to the year 2028?
A: The Wireless Networking Era
The Embedded Computing Era (8B embedded microprocessors shipped annually already)