This Happy Hour Serves Tech

January 3, 2003
| By Katy Rent |
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GRAND RAPIDS — If the usual happy hour is spent with co-workers at a local watering hole, change it a little and spend this Wednesday's happy hour with technology.

The Michigan Small Business Development Center (MI-SBDC) and Sagestone Inc. will host the second annual Technology Happy Hour Kickoff for 2003. The event will be held from 4:30-6:45 p.m., Jan. 8, at the GVSU University Club at the Richard M. DeVos Center and will feature SageStone president and CEO Keith Brophy and his technology predictions for 2003.

"The intent is to talk about what is ahead in terms of technology and its impact on the business world and our lives in general," said Brophy.

"One of the reasons we are excited to share this information in general is that the pace of technology breakthrough is faster than ever and the business transformation, benefits and profits that can result from technology continue to charge ahead. But in the same sense, the dot-com boom and the dot-com bust — and the questions about the technology stocks — have kind of affected the technology climate in terms of technology consumption and perception."

In addition to a 2003 technology forecast, Brophy will take a look back at last year's predictions and compare those with what actually happened.

Brophy saw last year as a paradoxical year, one in which there were striking innovations on the technology forefront, but forward movements were never completed. He said that could apply to both the hardware and software sectors.

He added that forward movement could have really made a difference, but overall the technology climate was still somewhat adverse.

"I think this was because of two reasons. One, because the economy was slow, and, two, because we are still in the last stages of the perceptions of the dot-com bust," said Brophy. "The view of the business world toward technology investments at the end of 2003 will be much different than it has been at the end of 2002. And as we see consumer confidence go up we will see innovations take shape."

At the Technology Happy Hour forecast Brophy said he plans to introduce some of the new "gee-whiz" innovations on the horizon and the "bells and whistles" coming out in the new year.

One technology breakthrough that Brophy said will "wow" the crowd is the cell phone that is implanted in the consumer's wrist, under the skin. It conducts sound through the bone in the fingers and is operated by putting your finger in your ear to talk. The phone is still in the research and development stages in the United Kingdom, but the planning is concrete.

"The technology breakthroughs are not far off, and they are no longer out there in the future as five-year-out innovations. They are happening and becoming feasible and useful now," added Brophy.

In the 2003 forecast Brophy said he will talk about everything from the "business practical," which he said are items and procedures that a business needs to stay viable, to those brand new product lines that command a new way of thinking but that are all routed through hardware and software that are technologically feasible today.

"Our lives are continuing to change very rapidly. And definitely the life of organizations and businesses, and the degree to which a business effectively embraces the right kind of technology, can determine not only how competitive it is but how viable they are moving ahead into the future," added Brophy.

But the presentation won't be all bells and whistles. Brophy said the practical side, and how it applies specifically to West Michigan, will be an important part of the process. He said it's important that he spell out for West Michigan businesses exactly what they really need to understand in terms of where technology is today and what processes and procedures can make a difference in the next 12 months.

Brophy added that technology is changing and it is becoming evident in obvious ways, with automating supply chains or linking multiple distribution channels over the Web that can allow not only return on investment but can also make a business rapidly competitive.

He said new product lines will emerge, as sensors and microchips — and even nanotechnology — are integrated with the Internet.

"Some of these things that have taken shape in 2002 or at least gained some momentum will roll right through to 2003," said Brophy. "And that is when you will see the actual changes and things coming to shape."

Seating is limited for the Tech Happy Hour and RSVP is requested. Contact Jody Diehl at diehljo@gvsu.edu or call 331-7370.           

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