ASPEN, Co.—At the Fortune Brainstorm conference in Aspen this week, one early-stage investor and loyal veteran of the tech conference circuit had a simple complaint: “Too many suits,” he grumbled, referring to what he perceived as an unusually large presence of big, old-line companies.
One segment of the event felt like a corporate confessional of sorts as leaders of Ericsson, Microsoft, Cisco and Intel acknowledged their recent struggles, while of course rejecting the idea that they’ve become irrelevant in age of Google and Amazon and the multi-billion-dollar startup. Numerous executives from industrial-era companies like General Electric and Alcoa were there too.
It is dangerous to judge industry trends from a single event. But there are many other signs that the tech business is moving into a phase where the needs of large corporations and other big institutions—and the extraordinary opportunities that next-generation tech holds for them—will increasingly drive the technical and financial agenda.