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Context and the Future Cloud
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Context and the Future Cloud
SAP Cloud Solutions
Sep 19, 2012
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1. Context & The Future Cloud Focus Research ©2012 All Rights Reserved
Context & The Future CloudBig Data is a big topic right now – and getting bigger. Forgive the not-so-subtle play on words. But as weare known to do in this industry, we often make big deals out of things.It’s probably a safe assumption that most of us have heard the phrase “content is king.” In the continuallyevolving world of Big Data, Business Intelligence and Business Analytics, having lots of data has itsadvantages. We can now sift through huge amounts of data in very short time frames. And there is arenewed interest in searching out those who understand the mathematics that power the process ofmaking sense of all that data locked away in social graphs, email streams and sensor feeds. The patternsand relationships surfaced by all those math wizards are pretty amazing. The ads with which I ambombarded on a daily basis are actually starting to be of some use to me!Obviously the whole area of Big Data and Analytics goes much deeper than my somewhat tongue incheek example, which actually brings me to the topic of this post – context. Did you see the movieMinority Report? If so, you may remember the scene where detective John Anderton, played by TomCruise, is walking through a mall and all of the ads change as he approaches them, offering a warmingand friendly personal greeting by name and suggesting the latest and greatest product that he just can’tlive without. Pretty cool – even better than my example above.So what do I mean by context? In simple terms it’s an understanding of the world around us and the thingsthat contribute “to the moment.” Big Data and Analytics gives us a somewhat rear view mirror aspect ofcontext and it allows us to plan for the next interaction with customers. The context in which I’m interestedis actually the real-time context – the John Anderton version of the here and now. We’re not there yet, butwe’re getting closer by the day. We now have smart phones with pretty amazing spatial awareness andrecognition capabilities. Combine that with the advancements in augmented reality and ecosystems beingcreated by companies like Layar and others, and we have the building blocks for new channels to reachcustomers at the precise moment when a buying decision is imminent.What the heck does this have to do with cloud computing? Maybe the idea of context is not top of mind withthe average line of business owner or IT manager, but I would venture to say that it is starting to generateinterest among product marketers and managers. Ultimately these product ideas need to get turned intoproduct capabilities, and that’s where the cloud will add lots of value. I believe that most of the servicesrequired to deliver a rich context experience won’t be owned by the enterprise – it’s simply too big of achallenge and expense to create and manage the infrastructure to provide (even near) real-time contextualservices. The requirements to blend the historical behavior patterns of consumers (gleaned via Big Data)with current situational and geo-spatial awareness will be beyond the means of most companies.Context & The Future Cloud Focus Research ©2012 2
Who will provide context services in the cloud? Maybe there’s a new service model – Context as aServices (CaaS). Yes, I can hear you groaning… we don’t need more marketing gibberish. But I don’tbelieve “context” will neatly fit into the traditional SaaS model. It will take specialized service providerswho have a combination of robust infrastructure, systems and applications combined with experience ingathering, correlating and presenting real-time data across a variety of channels. There won’t be a lot ofthese providers. Those who do it well will play a major role in reshaping the user experience.Stay tuned, it’s going to get interesting! Robert Keahey is Partner and Founder of SummaLogic LLC, a business and IT consultancy specializing in strategy, marketing, product and business development across a variety of industry sectors. Robert brings to his clients a record of results-oriented innovation, industry insight, superior service delivery and operational know-how complemented by a varietyof information technology industry experiences. He has a network into high level executives in theinformation technology sector and has partnered with industry leaders to develop innovative and disruptivecapabilities. He has relationships with numerous venture capital firms and has evaluated, developed andhelped accelerate the business plans of several of their portfolio companies.He is currently serving as Vice President, Business Development and Product Strategy for LAYERZngn, aleader in the emerging Software-Defined Networking market.Context & The Future Cloud Focus Research ©2012 3