Gates: The Dawning of the Age of Friction-Free Innovation

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Tom Keating
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Gates: The Dawning of the Age of Friction-Free Innovation

Love or hate Microsoft, there's no doubt about that it's always interesting to hear what Bill Gates has to say about the future or technology and science. You may not agree with him, but he does have way of shaping what all of us are doing -- and how we do it.

Here's an excerpt from his recent speech at the Microsoft CEO Summit in Redmond, WA (for the complete speech, visit his personal home page at

The theme of this year's CEO Summit is "The Next 10 Years." So where will we be 10 years from now? As I said back in 1997, there's a tendency to overestimate how much things will change in two years and underestimate how much change will occur over 10 years. But I think there are some things we can say with a reasonable degree of certainty.

During the next 10 years, networks will get faster, computer processing will continue to increase in accordance with Moore's Law, and data storage will continue to fall in price. Meanwhile, high-definition screens will be cheaper, lighter and more portable. Mobile phones will rival today's desktop PCs for power and storage. Most important, the software that ties it all together will become increasingly sophisticated in its ability to understand the way you work, and increasingly streamlined and intuitive in the ways you use it.

During the next 10 years, the idea of "search" will give way to a notion of seamless access to knowledge as people begin to utilize tools that let them interact with their computers using plain English—or plain Spanish, French, Chinese or Russian—to instantly link to the information or people they need. In this New World of Work, repetitive, uninteresting tasks like moving data from one system to another will be automated and employees will focus much more of their time and creative energy on work that generates real value and growth.

In 1997, the theme of CEO Summit was "Corporate Transformation for Friction Free Capitalism." Today, in a world where we have access to virtually unlimited information at our fingertips, global supply chains, international markets that operate 24 hours a day and communication tools that enable us to move data around the world instantly have brought us a lot closer to a world of friction free-capitalism than many people thought possible back then.

As we look ahead to the next 10 years and the promise of the New World of Work, I believe we are on the verge of an idea that is even more powerful: the age of friction-free innovation.

 Should be an interesting decade ...


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