Blog Watch: Roland Piquepaille’s Technology Trends

One of the many blogs I monitor is Roland Piquepaille’s Technology Trends. Here’s my review:

Mission: “How new technologies are modifying our way of life”

Author: Roland Piquepaille, a computer consultant based in Paris; partner in the Savoir-Faire & Cie network; specializes in high-performance computing and visualization.

Pros: Wide range of raw material (he must read a lot of publications!). Identifies sources. Adds context and related links. Good RSS feed. Provides images/photos.

Cons: None.

Comment: If you’re in a hurry, the first paragraph (which shows up in the RSS feed) tells you mostly what you need to know.

Examples of gems I found there:

RFID tags spy on bartenders: Capton, a provider of liquor-monitoring technology, has developed the Beverage Tracker system (being tested at the Treasure Island hotel-casino in Las Vegas) which uses RFID tags to determine whether bartenders are overpouring or undercharging. It can save $90,000/year for an average bar.

The first world map of happiness: Built at the University of Leicester, the map shows you’ll be happier if you live in Denmark (rated No.1) or Switzerland (No.2) than in Zimbabwe (No.177) or Burundi (No.178).

A robot that paints like Jackson Pollock: Computer scientists at the Washington University in Saint-Louis built a robot that makes drip paintings like Jackson Pollock’s — who was also known as “Jack the Dripper.” The robot, dubbed ‘Action Jackson,’ can finish an ‘artwork’ in just minutes, like Jackson Pollock probably did. But the paintings by this robot can be bought for about $10, far from the whopping $140 million price paid last year for “No.5, 1948.”

‘People issues’ are getting hotter, but execs take a dim view of HR

A global survey of 531 business executives finds that 85% see “people issues” as vital to their businesses today, and that figure goes up to 88% over the next three to five years. The study was done by Deloitte Consulting and The Economist Intelligence Unit. The top “people issues” cited by the respondents:

  • leadership development
  • creating a high-performance culture
  • talent management
  • training

But there’s a real perception gap between business executives and HR leaders, says the study co-director Jeff Schwartz, in an interview with Workforce Management magazine. Schwartz says: “Even though they both see people issues as vital, the executives don’t see HR and HR leaders as driving the people agenda in business today. When you ask them how HR is doing, barely 4% describe their company’s HR as ‘world-class’ … and only 23% believe that HR currently plays a crucial role in strategy and operational results.”

Schwartz says HR folks need to spend more time helping the business succeed, and less time on the operational “dial tone of HR.” The good news is that 88% of the survey respondents expect that HR will indeed become a more strategic function in the next three to five years.

Higher gasoline prices may boost online shopping

Higher gasoline prices are causing consumers to change their driving behavior, as well as to cut spending on luxury items and even groceries, according to a survey of 1,000 consumers commissioned by PriceRunner.com. Online retailers may see benefits from higher gas prices as 22% of the respondents indicated that they’re making more online purchases to save on the cost of driving to the store.

Furthermore, 10% said that they’d canceled all or part of their vacation plans as a result of higher gas prices; and 12.8% said they had chosen closer vacation destinations.

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Methodology
Online survey with 1,000 respondents resulting in a +/- 3.1% maximum sampling margin of error at the 95% confidence level. Survey conducted by Amplitude Research, April 2007

Update

Consumers have boosted online spending in part as a way to save on gas, according to a new report released by Decision Direct Research, the marketing research division of Millard Group Inc. The survey of 55,000 consumers showed that 19% of respondents have “significantly” increased their online spending over the past year and another 39% report that their spending has increased “slightly.” When asked why they increased their Internet shopping, “saves gas” posted an increase of 13 points over 2006, while “saves time” increased by six points. — DM News, 13 September 2007

Barriers to China’s growth

China’s economy seems to be going gangbusters. “Forecasts suggest it could overtake the USA, Japan and Germany to become the world’s largest economy as early as 2035,” according to Global Futures & Forecast (GFF) and Fast Future. But GFF’s survey of international business leaders and futurists finds that there nevertheless are some short-term barriers to the China juggernaut:

Barriers to China’s growth
Bureaucracy (cited by 41% of respondents)
Corruption (32%)
Energy shortages (22%)
Lack of experienced managers (18%)
Protectionist behavior in export markets (18%)
Slow market reforms (18%)
Social unrest (18%)
———————
Base: 700 respondents from 60 countries
Source: “The Future of China’s Economy: The Path to 2020,” by Rohit Talwar, Global Futures & Foresight (GFF) and Fast Future; cited in The Futurist magazine (July-August 2007, World Future Society)

2020 foresight: New jobs

Futurists at Social Technologies LLC see the following new jobs on the horizon for the year 2020:

  • Realizer: Creates real versions of virtual objects for people, from grog tankards to sports cars.
  • E-scrubber: Works to undo or minimize the indiscretions that people accumulate on the Web.
  • Unrealtor: Creates virtual tourism, adventure and retail destinations.
  • Nano-decontaminator: Cleans up nanomaterials now being spread through the environment.
  • Deceptionist: Provides tech-enabled deception services for those wishing to disguise their activities.
  • Genetic dietician: Creates diets tailored to people’s individual genetic makeup.
  • Geoscaper: Makes corporate and private properties look attractive in Google Earth-style aerial views.
  • Unplugger: Counselor (or mental health professional) who helps wean people from excessive technology use.
  • Eye pilot: Operates small, remotely piloted, camera-equipped aerial vehicles over war zones, disasters and other locations of interest on behalf of news services, nongovernmental organizations and private companies.

But a colleague of mine noted that very few people will want to be known as a “deceptionist.” It’s a hard thing to want to put on your IRS tax return or tell your kids.