EIF Forum 2015 Innovation in NC panel

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Curious what Dr. Jim Goodnight of SAS, NASCAR executives and other NC CEOs think about cybersecurity, artificial intelligence and online education? The Institute for Emerging Issues collected five predictions from national venture capitalists and asked these North Carolina innovators (and the audience through mobile polling) to respond to them at day one of the annual Emerging Issues Forum. 

See the national predictions and local responses below:

TEMPORARY/FLEXIBLE WORKFORCE

• “Real-time and mobile services have empowered a new segment of workforce that thrives on flexible and independent work. This has enabled those that aren’t able to (or simply don’t want to) fulfill 9-5 jobs to enter the workforce and creates a prevalence of non-traditional careers in services. In 2014 in the U.S. alone, there are 18 million independent workers. Expect that number to increase at sharp rates in 2015.” - Tony Tijan, CueBall Group 

Bob Ingram, general partner at Hatteras Venture Partners, says its important to have collaboration so what he doesn't see are enormous numbers of workers sitting alone at home. He sees them doing part of their work virtually but in many cases coming together as small and flexible teams. Specifically, he expects companies to increasingly take advantage of global workforces, allowing U.S. workers to perform tasks during the day and those overseas to finish them overnight.

WORKFORCE and AUTOMATION 

• “Until a decade ago, machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) were relegated to research labs, technical publications, and big-budget science fiction films. ML and AI have “crossed the chasm” and will have a profound impact on the way businesses work. Pairing human workers with machine learning and automation will transform knowledge work and unleash new levels of human productivity and creativity. Without the advances in automation, the swelling volume of data would overwhelm knowledge workers and cripple businesses.” - Katherine Barr, MDV

Steve O'Donnell, chief racing development officer at NASCAR, agrees that big data and artificial intelligence tools are vitally important for his business—there's track scanning and simulation devices and other sophisticated technology in NASCAR cars. He agrees with the prediction but sees the industry still in transition. The right people are still needed to interpret the data and make the right decisions using it.

ENTREPRENEURSHIP 

• “The U.S. government will empower & create even more entrepreneurs. More lenient immigration policies will allow people to pursue entrepreneurship, while affordable individual health care makes traditional employment less of a draw. These policy changes will drive a massive influx of entrepreneurs in 2015 and beyond.” - Tony Tijan, CueBall Group 

Sepi Saidi of Sepi Engineering agrees and disagrees. She agrees that more lenient immigration policies are important and will be beneficial to launching more companies and creating more innovative jobs. Same with affordable healthcare. She's just not sure it will really happen in 2015. 

ONLINE EDUCATION 

• “Online education will graduate to higher valuations. Online is at a true inflection point and will accelerate. According to Global Industry Analyst, online education in 2015 will reach $107 billion, which will represent a doubling in just three years.” - Sergio Monsalve, Norwest Venture Partners 

Christopher Chung, CEO of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina, agrees that educational models will continue to be challenged by online delivery methods. He referenced a story in The Atlantic profiling the innovative virtual-physical Minerva Project under pilot in Silicon Valley.

CYBERSECURITY 

• “Cybersecurity budgets will explode in 2015 as every company, institution, and government attempts to avoid being Sony’d. VCs will pour money into this sector in the same way they poured money into the rental economy.” - Fred Wilson, Union Square Ventures

Jim Goodnight, president and CEO of SAS Institute, agrees. Cybersecurity budgets are going to be in hundreds of millions of dollars this year, he says. The vulnerability of computing systems is a huge concern and reflected by the recent Sony and Anthem breaches. There's no good system of monitoring every transaction that occurs, but SAS is working on a way to monitor every IP address. So far, it hits as many as 180,000 IP-to-IP connections per second, Goodnight said.