The Titans of HP Discover

Three of the biggest names in tech – HP President and CEO, Meg Whitman, Intel CEO, Brian Krzanich, and Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella – sat down with New York Times Columnist and Pulitzer Prize winner, Thomas Friedman for the HP Discover keynote on Wednesday, June 11th to discuss the future of technological innovation. Whitman commented that it was the first time all three had been together in a public forum.

Whitman started the keynote by showing how consumer and commercial sides of the business are merging before showing off what is, for now, called “The Machine.” It will attempt to bring new computing architecture to market by the end of the decade under a non-volatile or “universal memory” system and allow for storage capacity in the realm of 100TB on a device as small as a smartphone. The long-term plan has many components too detailed to outline in this post, but the processing power of the future is no doubt impressive.

After the new product tease, Friedman took the stage and said that history will look back to see the most important early 21st century innovation as the merger of globalization and the IT movement. He sees humanity going from a connected to a hyper-connected world, and inter-connected society to an inter-dependent one. Friedman’s predication follows the tone of his 2005 book The World Is Flat, but he quickly noted how much has changed in the last 8 years since the books publication. Facebook, for example, wasn’t a ubiquitous part of our lives. Trending IT topics such as big data, cloud computing, and the Internet of Things (IoT) weren’t even on the map.

IoT dominated much of the discussion and highlighted just how important collaboration between the three companies will continue to be. “Microsoft and Intel are critical partners for HP,” said Whitman. “No company is an island.” Krzanich echoed these sediments, noting that today Intel works much more closely with partners to understand how software works in conjunction with hardware at every level, instead of simply shipping microchips out to be put into PCs.

“IoT makes the world flatter,” said Krzanich, in a callback to Friedman’s book. Krzanich talked about how the advancements of tablets and smartphones will seem minuscule compared to the exciting new things that will come out of the IoT over the next 5-10 years. “The unknown unknowns will be truly Earth shattering,” he said, predicting that when all the various data points are connected that we’ll be able to see what things are harming us or slowing us down that we didn’t even know. “We can solve real problems when we pool this data together,” he said.

Though the future of IoT is bright, it’s not a completely rosy path. “The existing way we do compute won’t scale when it comes to IoT,” remarked Whitman.

Friedman asked how each company saw it fitting into the explosion of the IoT, and Intel’s focus is sharp. “We want to make everything smart,” said Krzanich. “We are trying to find silicon that can go into any device or item that you can think of to raise its intelligence level.”

Nadella said he saw Microsoft and society as a whole “moving into the more personal computing era,” talking about how all the devices that collect data will then send that data to be merged in the cloud to be analyzed in order to give relevant feedback to users.

When Friedman asked what the next big disruption would be, Krzanich spoke about Intel’s ability to scan his body in less than 2 minutes to be sent to a 3D printer. He was visibly excited when saying that in the future, “everyone can become a manufacturer.”

Whitman noted a need for a change in energy efficiency in order for disruptions and innovations to continue, stating that if cloud computing as a whole was measured like a country that it would be fifth in overall energy consumption.

Friedman’s final question was about how each company saw their environmental obligations. Whitman considered it to be of paramount importance, saying HP’s obligations are “not only how we run our operations, but how we save space and power.” Krzanich agreed, saying Intel is committed to finding out how to do “more computing with less power.” He hopes Intel is a company with a “large footprint that leaves small footsteps in the community we’re in.”

Click here to watch the full keynote.