Ringing in a New Year With Predictions for Hot Software Sectors


The constrained venture capital markets and difficult environment for IPOs, will make 2010 a big year for M&A transactions. The leaders in hot new software sectors will be swallowed up at a premium, along with entrepreneurs tired of running on the treadmill as they get closer to retirement, will drive more M&A transactions than ever. I see these theses trends emerging:

1. Emergence of “Social Commerce”—The continued propagation and expansion of social networks open a significant opportunity for new forms of online commerce. Expect to see integrated commerce applications embedded into the social networks that offer simplicity, security and a unique and integrated understanding of the social network participants. This will drive new forms of commerce with remarkable results in 2010 and beyond.

2. Greater Performance for Online Advertising—The downturn in gross online ad spending has “weeded out” many undifferentiated online advertising businesses, but has also stimulated ad technology companies that make a measurable difference in converting ads to sales. Expect to see breakthrough technologies in the areas of ad placement and dynamic creative that will improve relevancy and yield from the historical conversion rates.

3. Better Online Privacy Controls and a Move to Mobile Devices—Today’s myriad of online entertainment and productivity applications, combined with the move to greater “computing on the go” capabilities, have created a privacy conflict between web application providers and users. The application providers want to understand and expose data to improve online presence which, in many cases, is in conflict with individual privacy concerns. The situation is even more concerning for children and with mobile devices. Today’s litany of online games and social communities accessible through phones can result in personal information getting into the wrong hands. While some applications prevent this on PC’s, mobile devices are open terrain. Parents, parents, corporations and users will embrace new forms of privacy controls on mobile devices in 2010.

4. Broad Adoption of Energy Management Applications—The concentration on clean technology and green energy has resulted in a new class of applications driving energy efficiency. Buildings account for about one-third of all energy use. It is estimated that 30 percent of this is wasted. In order to control energy use, you must measure energy consumption. Many sensor-based monitoring applications will be developed for this purpose. In 2010 you should expect to see a new breed of energy-oriented analytic applications that will help improve efficiency in the home, office, and in energy-intensive locations like data centers.

5. Software to Manage Food Safety–There is a growing desire to get better information about what we are eating. Not just nutritional labels in the grocery store, but a complete history of food products covering the product from the farm to the kitchen. Consumers want to know more about the food we ingest, including where it comes from, potential exposure to pesticides, oversight of properly controlled transportation and more. To date we have relied on regulatory agencies for such oversight, but the system is far from perfect, as we witnessed with many food scares in 2009. Expect consumer-oriented applications on the web to play a bigger role in 2010 and beyond.

6. Technology to Manage Water Use—With only 1 percent of the world’s fresh water available as drinking water, water capture, management and retention will become a big focus in 2010. Again, this requires measurement and testing that involves sensor-based applications, collaborative systems among agencies and better storage facilities. Expect to see highly integrated and analytical web applications that will be facilitated by wireless and mobile computing.

[Editor’s Note: As the decade comes to an end, we’ve asked Xconomists and other technology leaders around the country to identify the top innovations they’ve seen in their fields the past 10 years, or predict the top disruptive technologies that will impact the next decade.]

Dennis Clerke, managing director and co-founder of DaggerBoard Advisors, has played a key role in numerous early-stage Southern California software companies. Follow @dclerke

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