Week in Review: Tech tales from two cities
By A. Asohan March 7, 2014
- Crazy, world-changing ideas are not the merely the province of startups
- Malaysia’s ecosystem missing that craziness element in academia and industry
IT was a great week for my globe-trotting colleagues Edwin Yapp and Gabey Goh, who recently travelled to Germany and the United States to cover two different events. They’d both written quick news stories while there, but it was their more indepth and nuanced follow-ups from the events that got me thinking more.
Edwin had travelled to Potsdam, a small town 35km southwest of Berlin, to witness the official launch of SAP AG’s new Innovation Centre. But it was his follow-up on how the German software powerhouse was trying to reinvent itself – a change being driven by its cofounder Hasso Plattner – that really caught my attention.
In his article In HANA and Gen-Y, SAP doth trust, he not only gave us a look into the problems the business was facing, but also into the mind – and dare I say it? – heart of its visionary and mercurial cofounder and chairman of its supervisory board.
Speaking to Edwin and some other journalists from the Asia Pacific region, Plattner lamented the lack of nimbleness that was dragging SAP down, something he is fighting hard to change by bringing in a bit more Silicon Valley culture into the German company.
But reading about how Plattner drove for the company to develop in-memory computing technology – which is why it was originally called HAsso’s New Architecture, although now HANA stands for High performance ANalytic Appliance – made me think that one of the reasons why SAP is still around is that it had individuals like him. You know, people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, to borrow a ‘Jobsism.’
It was the same feeling I got reading Gabey’s piece on Acronis, a company that is offering Backup-as-a-Service. Gabey had been in the new New Orleans, covering the Parallels Summit. Acronis was founded by Serguei Beloussov, who had also founded Parallels.
When he spoke to Gabey on the sidelines of the Summit and told her that, “I think that in the future, there [will be] no money … only data; and all value will move towards and be associated with data,” the first thing that came to my mind was, “Oh my, he is crazy!”
And I don’t mean that as a bad thing. Crazy – with the proper technological underpinning it – is good.
Beloussov’s declaration, while it spoke to the increasing value of our digital assets, and how individuals and organisations are being defined by these digital assets, just reminded me of Nicholas Negroponte’s crazy 1996 prophecy that in the future, everything that can be digitalised, will be digitalised. And whole market economies would be built on this.
Or at least that was what the MIT Media Labs guy said in his book Being Digital. The tech world, caught in the throes of the first dotcom wave, loved it; just about everyone else quietly backed away and left the room in sniggers.
Today, many of us spend more time watching videos on YouTube than we do in front of the TV, and do most of our reading on a screen. The future is here, now.
What’s really crazy is that all these crazy ideas came from old-school, traditional technologists and academics. I’ve grumbled before about how the startup scene in Malaysia needs more technology, and was happy that some of the sexiest startups had an enterprise bent.
But perhaps what Malaysia’s ecosystem really needs is some crazy, startup thinking in the enterprise space and in the halls of academia. We need people in these places to be crazy enough to think they can change the world, and that it’s not just a Generation-Y calling.
‘In the future, there’ll be no money … only data’
In HANA and Gen-Y, SAP doth trust
Malaysia can overtake Singapore in big data race: Bob Chua
IP: Bazaar model vs copyright registration
Celcom CEO: 2014 will be the ‘Year of Battles’
Will Voopee be a cushion for XOX?
Ramco Systems deal with MAS its ‘largest single win’
Week in Review: We need to get behind the MaGIC CEO
Week in Review: More need to carve out time
Week in Review: When reality matches the PR
Week in Review: You are not indestructible!
Week in Review: Attitudes towards failure changing
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