What’s Next? New York Tech Meetup’s Jessica Lawrence Makes 5 Predictions for 2012

From her vantage point as NYTM’S Managing Director, Jessica Lawrence has first look at what’s happening on the Big Apple startup scene. She sees trends before the rest of us even know they’re on the horizon. Starting this month, Lawrence will be sharing her perspective in a monthly column on this Tumblr as one of our “human leading indicators” — individuals from around the world with unique insight into what’s next. First up: 5 big tech trends to watch in 2012.

1. People finally start learning to code en masse.
2. Startup services will be built on human brainpower, not just computer algorithms.
3. A newly politically engaged tech community will emerge.
4. Expect surges around untapped markets.
5. New York’s tech scene will continue to build critical mass, attracting cash and new talent.





1. People finally start learning to code.

People are finally getting the fact that learning how to code is as essential as learning reading, writing, and arithmetic—all the basic things we’ve been learning in school for years. The evidence? Code Year, a program of Codecademy, signed up 100,000 users in 48 hours. 2012 is the year of learning to code. As more people see the essential nature of learning the language that our future is written in, then we’ll start to see that push trickle down to K-12 education. We’ll start seeing the effects of a surge of people learning to code in a year or two, as we get more developers into the market.

2. Startup services will be built on human brainpower, rather than just computer algorithms.

People are realizing that even a pretty smart algorithm can’t do it all, because algorithms just don’t pick up on the nuances of being human. Only another human being can do that. What people are realizing is they want something beyond that, especially for something that’s incredibly important — like dating. The typical dating site is based around your filling out information, and then the computer algorithm helps you find the right person. There’s this new site, called MyMatchMaker.com, that actually uses human matchmakers to supplement the algorithm.

It’s an interesting evolution: First, you were in the dark. Then, you had the opportunity to connect with different people and find matches that were maybe better than you’d find on your own, because they were curated for you by a pretty good algorithm. Now, people are taking that a step further and trying to humanize what the computer can do to make it as relevant as possible.

A dating site is just the start of seeing human brainpower merged with computer algorithms to create more relevant and effective products and services.

3. A newly politically engaged tech community will emerge.

Before SOPA, there was some sense that what the government was doing wasn’t going to affect the tech community, especially at the small startup level. Starting a company requires significant time and focus, so entrepreneurs weren’t necessarily motivated to engage until they saw the potential direct impact of government action on themselves, the people they care about and the companies they feel are the ground-breakers of the startup space. Now they’re jumping into action.

SOPA has been a wake-up call that what’s happening in Washington can affect startups. And people are realizing there are a number of issues that do impact the tech community, and they can have some impact if they speak up. People are going to start looking to fill that gap in advocacy for early stage tech startups.

4. Expect surges around untapped markets.

There are still a significant number of untapped markets (or untapped pockets of already tapped markets) that tech startups are starting to tackle. Instead of seeing startups sporadically addressing some of the challenges in those markets, there seem to be surges of multiple startups tackling the same market from slightly different angles all at the same time. Within a couple of weeks, I’ll see two or three or four apps tackling the area. I first saw this with apps related to the conference and events space. The events and conference market is huge, but there hasn’t been a single front-runner company to emerge yet that has gained notoriety as the conference and events app. Companies are not only trying to build a solution for event planners, with all of the information the attendees need about the conference and each other in a single app, but — and this is a significant trend — they’ve also got an eye on helping people get more value out of conferences, using algorithms to connect people with who they should meet at whatever conference they’re attending. Who else is in this room with me? How am I connected to them? Startups are tackling that challenge and integrating their solution into a content platform.

I’ve also seen this with the supper club and underground dining scene, which has always been loosely organized and purposefully secretive. Supper club organizers figured out ways market and sell their events using existing tools (Twitter, Facebook, e-newsletters, EventBrite, and plain old word of mouth), but there wasn’t a platform dedicated to helping them organize or helping interested attendees find supper club events. Within the last two or three months I have seen four or five companies come forward all trying to get into this market and help both the attendees and the organizers connect. What’s challenging for companies trying to break into this space is that many of the existing supper clubs don’t actually have issues with marketing: they have huge mailing lists and oftentimes can barely accommodate everyone who wants to come. For companies trying to enter untapped markets, one of the key focal points should be to understand why the market has gone untapped (maybe people in the market haven’t felt like they are lacking anything) and understand what the actual problems are for the market before offering solutions that are often based on models that have worked in other areas.

5. New York’s tech scene will continue to build critical mass, attracting cash and new talent.

People used to look at the New York tech community and say, “There might be something happening there.” But during 2011, the New York tech community became more legitimized than ever (even if the people actually within the New York tech community knew it was legit all along). Mayor Bloomberg, in particular, did a lot to see that it’s incredibly viable — the applied science campus, making the rounds at all of the large tech events. Companies like Facebook and Yelp and Twitter opening offices here was a huge sign people see New York as a legitimate place to build and grow a tech company. The NYTM-curated Made in New York list of companies being built (actually coded) in New York now has over 240 companies on it, many of which are hiring.

Going into 2012, look for people to see even more clearly that New York is a great place to build technology. That means more engineers coming into the city, which is something companies desperately need. It means more funding coming into the city. Pretty exciting stuff.

  1. yrdagoldmine reblogged this from nasdaq
  2. alittlespace reblogged this from nasdaq and added:
    Interesting insight from Jessica (cheers for NY tech!). “Human Leading Indicator” is quite a title.