Words of a forward-looking technology CEO

I had the pleasure of hearing Vivek Ranadive speak at a corporate event this morning. The centerpiece of his talk was the five trends that he believes will drive the 21st Century. Always wanting to predict the future, I took notes furiously and this is roughly what he said:

5 trends for the 21st Century

1. Explosion of data – More data will be uploaded to YouTube just today than all of the data that was consumed in centuries past

2. Move to mobility – It took 100 years for there to be one billion land lines in the world, and only 10 years for one billion cell phones to be turned on

3. Emergence of platforms such as YouTube and Facebook – Individuals now have platforms to speak that only corporations had in the past few hundred years and monarchs had before that

4. Importance of Asia – A third of the world’s population is ‘coming online’ and will interact as equals with the Old World that has dominated technology and commerce in the past

5. Math trumping science – No longer do we need to know the “why” of something, but simply that if A and B happen, C will follow. Finding patterns and using patterns to predict has become more valuable than knowing why.


These trends are very significant and are having an enormous impact on where corporations are headed. Each represents a game changer by itself, and collectively represent the reasons why new markets and enterprises will emerge and disappear in the coming years. The biggest changes since the industrial revolution and computer science have already started and will to accelerate.

Corporations as we know them are a modern concept and only a few hundred years old. They came about as a way to create efficiencies and replaced individual contributors. For corporations to continue to find success, they need to become less about mechanized human behavior and more about being agile, collaborative, asset-driven and able to turn on a dime. It is no longer about CEO’s conducting a marching band, but more like jazz music where highly talented people ‘do their own’ thing in a way that works better together than any single sound. Making that work will require all new ways of doing business, relying on new technology.

The 2-Second Advantage

As Vivek says in his book, The 2-Second Advantage, corporations are finding it more useful to have just a little big of the right information beforehand than all of the information in the world six months afterward. This has become the same for people as it is for enterprises. Vivek’s favorite example is Wayne Gretzky, who attributed his enormous success playing hockey to skating not where the puck is, but where it will be. Wayne Gretzky had a 2 second advantage.

Vivek’s goal is to create an enterprise software company for the 21st Century just as Apple created the first consumer software company. He equates a database to a phone that doesn’t ring because it is a passive storage place for data that people need real-time information, not data squirreled away somewhere. His tag line is, “You can’t take advantage of 21st Century opportunities with 20th Century technology.”  This resonates with me.

What he describes is a democratization of information just as that word applies to societies. His vision is to, “Free the world from the tyranny of the database” by putting data on the information bus and making it available, analyze-able, and actionable. If you haven’t read his Gladwell-like book, you should pick up a copy and find a quiet spot. It is a great read regardless of your technology understanding or involvement.


Categories: Data Analytics / Big Data, Future of work, Strategy, Tech Strategy

Author:Chris Taylor

Reimagining the way work is done through big data, analytics, and event processing. There's no end to what we can change and improve. I wear myself out...

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One Comment on “Words of a forward-looking technology CEO”

  1. December 7, 2011 at 1:08 am #

    Hi Chris,
    The moment I read the title in my RSS feed, I knew it had to be Vivek. Currently reading his book.
    Really like your blog and thoughts.

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