Highlights of Monte Jade Annual Conference, March 26, 2011

While there were many interesting sessions at this conference, this article will only cover the sessions most relevant to Viodi View readers -Communications & Computing and Leadership for the Future.  The first session was all about trends and forecasts for wireless technology as well as cloud computing.  The second session highlighted important leadership qualities for workers at technology companies of all sizes.  We present the panelists comments and predictions in a sequential, linear format in this article.

1.  The Future of Communications and Computing

Moderator: Curtis L. Mo, Partner, Corporate & Securities, DLA Piper

Panelists:

  • Paul Kempf, Vice President of Silicon, RIM
  • Deepak Puri, Director, vCloud Business Development, VMware
  • Eric Chu, Android Platform Manager, Google+
  • Michelle Leyden-Li, Sr. Director, CDMA Technologies Marketing, Qualcomm

+  Google requested no media coverage of what Eric Chu said during this session, so his remarks are omitted from this article.

Moderator Curtis Mo started the discussion by noting that the huge interest in mobile computing was started by the iPhone and has accelerated with the success of the iPAD.  He observed that new devices continue to drive the mobile ecosystem and that corporate workers as well as consumers were now using them more than most analysts had predicted.

Michelle Leyden-Li of Qualcomm said that it was all about the “user experience”  – being connected all the time, fast download and upload speeds, and longer battery life.  That’s well known.  But the usage model is not.  What do people really want out of their mobile devices depends on the industry and consumer preferences.  There will be different usage models and device sizes/ form factors for different users

Paul Kempf of RIM opined that all IC companies are “racing to the same finish line.”  They are all trying to provide Systems on a Chip (SoC) that include some combination of  high performance processor cores, Graphic Processig Units (GPUs), video engines, intelligent power management.  That of course, is in addition to the communications related transceivers and RF front ends for WiFi, 3G, 4G and other wireless network technologies (in addition to GPS receivers).  Kempf said that the way hardware operates should be seamless to facilitate a good user experience.  Battery lifetime is dependent on the region, with Asia desiring a longer battery life (less need for recharging) than North America.

He thinks the industry needs to do a better job of gauging usage models. Paul said that industry reports indicate low usage of Location Based Services (LBS) compared to heavy use of web browsing, email and messaging. We wonder how frequently the over hyped apps are actually used; think about mobile advertising (which depends on LBS), mobile payments, mobile banking, mobile video (other than quick takes), mobile gaming, etc?

Deepak Puri of VMware asked, “How securely does a mobile device connect to the back end system?” and observed that was very important.  Various levels of authentication and authorization are required for mobile devices to access cloud computing resources.  “The barriers to creating and building apps have come down now that many apps can run (be executed) in the cloud (instead of in the smart device).”  Examples of cloud resident apps accessed by mobile devices include Google Calender and Gmail (also Google Voice).  “Cloud technology empowers mobile devices and users,” he said.

Ms Leyden-Li predicted that the mobile Internet will be built into home appliances and other machines using smart device technology for M2M communications, e.g. 1GHz processor cores, GPUs, 3G interfaces, etc.

Mr Kemp said that while RIM still derives most of its revenues from mobile phones, they are also getting into M2M communications.  The company is providing wireless connectivity to the automobile industry.  RIM acquired a company named QNX that is the source of the QNX real time operating system which is popular in automotive, medical and other industry verticals.  Paul has seen recent material on the propagation of mobile operating systems into automotive use and RIM is already there through their acquisition of QNX.

RIM is also deriving some revenue from services and operate their own network.  Paul observed that mobile and wireless connectivity has become a big “growth engine” for the secomiconductor industry.  He believes the mobile apps market will continue to evolve with new and more powerful hardware in mobile devices.

Mr. Puri predicted that Cloud Service Providers would build services and applications that would take advantage of mobile access.  He said that mobile computing revenue could be obtained from four sources:  the device itself (smart phone, tablet, eReader, game console, etc), applications sold for the device, bandwidth usage (data caps and overage charges to the telco), and information gathered from the subscriber (web usage patterns, web sites visited, etc to be sold to advertisers or used for marketing preferences).

Ms Leyden-Li suggested the industry focus be on innovation.  “Companies that innovate will continue to lead.  When you have innovation people care about, the money will follow.”

Mr. Mo asked each of the panelists to provide one prediction or new trend in the coming year or two.  Here were their answers:

  • Mr. Puri responded first.  Without hesitation he said, “Distribution of software from a desktop/ in house server to a cloud based subscription model” would be the number one trend in computing (we definitely agree with that).  But Deepak noted that international companies that needed to deliver IT resources in different countries might have to rely on multiple geographically dispersed cloud service providers.
  • Mr Kempf believes that hardware will soon out pace software and application developers will have to catch up to use the new and more powerful hardware he expects to be included in mobile devices within the next year or two.   Paul believes that each of the major hardware subsystems, like imaging, graphics and multimedia, are expanding in functionality to the point where using the combined resources in a software application will require a detailed understanding of the entire hardware system.  Therefore, the software will likely lag the hardware implementation and open up opportunities for software innovation, in his opinion.  However, the semiconductor industry still has work to do in driving down cost, power consumption, footprint of ICs (we might add mixed signal integration on a single chip).  Surprisingly, Paul doesn’t think excessive power consumption would be a limiting IC factor for mobile devices, even though many different radios, receivers and antennas will be needed to support “everywhere” communications capability, i.e. WiFi, 3G, 4G, Zigbee, GPS, etc.  There is also the issue of antenna farms and smart antennas embedded in mobile devices, which could be another opportunity for component innovation.
  • Ms Leyden-Li observed that consumers just want to be connected where ever they are and to use the best wireless network available at each location.  They want to have ubiquitous, seamless and secure network connectivity.  This implies multiple radios/receivers in each mobile device and seamless hand-offs hand-offs between different network types, e.g. WiFi to 3G to 4G, etc.

Note: The industry has still not demonstrated anything close to that according to this author’s observations.

She said that software integration, along with hardware integration was needed for a full platform solution.  In other words, integration of more silicon functions in a chip is not sufficient.

Mr. Mo then provided his observations about where VCs were investing:  Mobile, SaaS and Cloud Computing.  He said that clean tech was on the decline, smart grid was a way of “throwing IT at a problem that wasn’t well understood by the power industry,” and that consumer Internet (e.g. social media, e-commerce, gaming, etc) was in a speculative bubble (that’s been well documented this year).

This author asked a question about promising M2M application areas. The following were mentioned by the panelists:  smart meters, smart grid, instruments in automobiles, e Health in general and heart rate monitoring in particular, home devices and controllers, building management and home control systems.  There were also questions on lack of a standard for Mobile OSs, Cloud Security and SoC vs multiple chips for smart devices but no new answers on these old and worn out issues could be provided by the panelists (or anyone else).

Author’s Note: We don’t buy into the market research firm mantra predicting a rapid convergence of the mobile enterprise and cloud computing.  We have many reasons for this but will wait for comments or requests for our views in a separate article.

2.  Closing Keynote – “Leadership for the Future”

Panelists:

  • Pehong Chen, Chairman & CEO, BroadVision, Inc.
  • Edward Yang, Partner, iD Ventures America, Former CTO & VP, HP

These two “old pros” offered tips and advice on leadership skills for the many younger folks in the audience.  It was noted that leadership does not necessarily equate with management.  Iin response to questions, the panelists stated that a leader does NOT necessarily have to be a manager and that engineers could be effective project leaders without being on a management career track.

Some important leadership qualities suggested were to be a visionary, risk taker, reformer (be able to change things that aren’t working), effective communicator, last man standing (have stamina for longevity).  It was recommended to lead by example, to work hard, know your weaknesses, establish trust, and to assimilate/disseminate information effectively.  Have a world view, as so much more business today is global and working team participants are often in different countries.  Finally, it’s important to go with the flow, but to recognize when change is needed and act decisively to effect the correct strategic change at the right time.

About Monte Jade

Named after the highest mountain in Taiwan  (“Monte Jade”), the Monte Jade Science and Technology Association, West Coast was established by a group of high-tech Chinese-American executives in Silicon Valley in 1989. Their initial driving force was to bring together the high-tech experts from the Bay Area and the other side of Pacific. “Monte Jade” was chosen to signify cross-cultural and technological foresight and excellence of the highest level. Monte Jade, incorporated as a non-profit organization in the State of California, held its opening ceremony in San Jose, California, on February 4, 1990.

Monte Jade’s principal objective is to promote the cooperation and mutual flow of technology and investment. This provides an opportunity for professionals and corporations on both sides of the Pacific to network and share valuable experiences in investment, opportunities, management, technology and business information exchange.

3 thoughts on “Highlights of Monte Jade Annual Conference, March 26, 2011

  1. Thanks Alan. Good perspective on what sounds like an interesting conference. That is disappointing that Google did not allow the comments from their speaker to be reported on, as they have so many interesting developments underway.

    Regarding the cloud computing, it would have been interesting to get the panelists take on the Amazon Cloud Drive music service. This coupled with Amazon’s video streaming service seems to be part of an overall drive by Amazon to unite an individual’s personal and purchased media into a digital locker that is accessible on fixed and mobile devices. If people start adopting this, it would have huge implications for the cloud and all of the associated devices.

    The leadership panel sounded very insightful. With the money currently chasing web 2.0 or 3.0 start-ups, it is easy to forget that it is the engineers that made Silicon Valley the place other locales want to emulate.

  2. Great reporting on this conference. Appreciate the editorial comments to inform readers of expectations vs reality in the mobile and cloud computing spaces.

    The leadership characteristics should be seriously considered by all engineers, many of whom seem to have been passed over by management. The majority of Silicon Valley engineers feel obsolete with all attention focusing on social media, e-commerce, gaming, mobile apps, collaboration software, etc – none of which have anything to do with EE, mathematics, or science!

    1. Thanks for your kind words and I completely agree with your comment.

      At the Monte Jade Annual Conference, a Chinese engineer asked the 2 Leadership Speakers if he had wasted his entire career in Engineering and should now jump to management in order to advance. The panelists told him no, he could still be a leader as an engineer (assume that referred to leading an Engineering Project Team).

      Yet the innvestments and buzz in technology these days has noting to do with any kind of engineering or science, ie. EE, ME, Physics, Math, etc. Most people don’t realize this key point and I wonder if Universities do get it???

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