Accenture Technology Vision 2012

Dr. Gavin Michael, Scott Kurth and Michael Biltz have written the Accenture 2012 Technology Vision statement. Typically these documents, in my opinion, are broad and obvious, but in this case I was positively surprised.

The highlights are:

– Context-based services

– Converging data architectures

– Industrialized data services

– Social driven IT

– PaaS-enabled agility

– Orchestrated analytical security

To me the above are all interconnected and parts of the same conversation…

Contextualization can be through aggregating multiple dimensions of data (such as the social driven dimension) and having the ability to data mine across the aggregated data set. Human analytics will be slowly automated using AI to empower the masses. Putting events in geo context is obvious. Having AI that understands sentiment and word associations is a bit less obvious. The futuristic goal would be AI that places events in conceptual context. This is only enabled if we collect and aggregate data on events from multiple perspectives. I’d claim that cloud and PaaS (Azure), to be specific, are driving integration and data aggregation. ‘A maturing platform-as-a-service (PaaS) market will shift the emphasis from cost-cutting to business innovation.’ In this sense I would have focused more on the ‘innovation’ potential in this report, rather than the deployment agility angle… but hey, I am not a doctor.

Converging data architectures is about mixing structured and unstructured data. In cloud environments data is split in structured relational data and unstructured blob data. Unstructured is much cheaper operationally and hybrid architecture optimization is key to minimizing operating costs. Distributed data from a cloud perspective means that we tap into data from multiple services and not just from the two structures.

The Azure Data Marketplace is a marketplace for industrialized data services. I ask all ISVs that I talk to what their data play is and to date I have not stumbled upon a single one with an aggregate data monetization plan. To me this means that a whole heck of a lot money is being left on the table.

Orchestrated analytical security is an interesting highlight at the end of the report. I have put a lot of thought in this and to me its is just one possible manifestation of innovation based on maturing PaaS. Devices do not cause data loss… people do. In this sense device management is always reactive. Enterprise network security has matured to the point where it is preventing security breaches in real-time against known attack profiles and possible permutations of those known attacks. I believe that the future is more a kin to the movie Minority Report. The more we are able to aggregate data on events from different perspectives and intelligently analyze that information the closer we are to being able to truly predict behavioral patterns and prevent data loss even before it occurs. Orchestrated analytical security is really a possible outcome of the other identified themes and as such sticks out in the report, but definitely a nice closer to the report that gets our imaginations turning.

In a past blog I used a macro economic study of the emerging markets to understand cloud ecosystem growth issues. According the macro economic study the reason why China is outpacing India is because China fully utilizes also the female population and has a higher general level of education. This applies to cloud vendors as well. Accenture’s vision is only possible if the whole partner ecosystem is educated on the ecosystem nature and innovation potential of PaaS. Would be interesting if Accenture would reach out to their clients to see if the clients understand and can envision the vision.

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What is in the water at RIM’s Waterloo offices?

I’ve been following the news about the CEO transition at RIM and the comments made by the new CEO Thorsten Heins. Wow… what’s in the water up there, cause those guys are majorly hallucinating.

No need to make major changes, this is not a turn around and we just need to market better. Dude, you have been left behind in the dust any way you package it and you need to make drastic changes to survive.

When you are from a small market that you dominate and you don’t get out much, your view of the world becomes warped. I am guessing that BlackBerry’s market penetration in Waterloo, Canada is close to 90%. When you go down to the local Tim Horton’s for a cup of coffee and everyone is happily using your phone, what other conclusion can you draw.

RIM’s problem is that their OS is well behind iOS, Windows Phone and Android… with zero chance of catching up. The big three are being sucked into a cloud paradigm shift and RIM is still trying to get on par with siliod apps. The only thing that RIM has going for it is BlackBerry Enterprise Server and even that should be rolled into Microsoft Exchange. Pundits have been making comments about MIcrosoft considering purchasing RIM… why? Why would Microsoft buy RIM to compete with Nokia and others at their own dime? Just to get their hands on current enterprise server customer base?

Probably not a popular move, but if I were Thorsten, I’d move BB to Windows Phone and kill on enterprise mail and device management. Nokia kills on design and navigation.

Thorsten… this is your ONLY play. Stop fiddling around and git’er done!


Kinect for Windows

A nugget from Balmer’s CES keynote was that Kinect was coming to Windows on Feb 1st. I’ve been thinking about Windows 8 and the need to buy a touch sensitive monitor… not any more. Few, no more dirty fingerprints on the screen! I am still a believer in 3D and Kinect has a huge role to play in that as well. The whole 3D glasses phase was one of the biggest tech cons of this century. What a waste! At the 2006 digital signage conference I already saw a 3D screen by Philips that didn’t require glasses! If you’ve invested into 3D tech in the last year… I am sooo sorry.

Back to Kinect… when Microsoft ISV partners think of their road map I’d explore the user interface possibilities that Kinect offers… gestures and voice commands. It will be interesting to see how Windows, Office and Dynamics product lines will incorporate Kinect. Now we only need a laptop size compatible Kinect device. The current Xbox form factor is a bit bulky for a laptop user. Remember when cameras were not integrated.

Kinect embedded into Windows Phone devices is only logical… Siri what? I see Kinect being a brand like Carl Zeiss camera lenses.


Rovio – Angry Birds

I spoke to an old colleague about Rovio’s success and today read an article on how much they sold during Christmas this year. The Angry Birds game is perfect in its simplicity. The simple game has an underlying story that can be extrapolated into books, cartoons, merchandise, etc. Absolutely beautiful!

My question is what is the future of Rovio? Is this it? Will Angry Birds carry to be the next Pokemon? Or will Rovio become the next Zynga, with an expanded products portfolio, cookie cuttering the success they have had with the birds? I personally think both are worthy goals.

So for either strategy what would be the exit? If Angry Birds are built into a Pokemon, will they be sold to a Disney and made into a theme park attraction? If Rovio is built into a Zynga, will they go public in a big way… in 2013? Peter Vesterbacka from Rovio said, “Disney is worth $60 billion… that is our goal, and there is no reason we couldn’t build a company that size.” Wow… how do you build a 60 billion dollar valuation with through a game fan base? “We will be the first entertainment brand with a billion fans,” he told T&T magazine. So, a billion fans… ARPU…. ok, I’ll bite. Facebook has 800 million members. Their app doesn’t cost anything and is available for virtually any device known to man. “That target sounds like a lot, but we are growing faster than Facebook…’, says Peter. I wont argue with the growth speed, but I might argue with the theoretical market saturation point. Groupon grew faster than anything before and they have hit their glass roof. Pokemon has been hit with Digimon, Bakugan, Beyblade, Yugioh, Skyliners, etc. Even Star Wars is now in on the card collecting action. Don’t think that Angry Birds has blocked the critter catapult gaming market. Just as a few examples… Battlewagon, Crush The Castle, Siege Mover, Sand Castle, Ninja Dogs, Sieger, etc. Granted that all of the above have no character story to expand upon, but my point is that it would not take much to come up with something similar.

So where is the big differentiator? I think its Peter and the team… the company’s greatest assets. They have played the marketing/sales game very well. I have always been a big critic of Finnish marketing acumen, but you could write a book on Angry Birds and that would be the new benchmark globally. Hitting one billion fans doesn’t happen over night and requires years of commitment and continuous innovation… plus luck. Let’s hope the team at Rovio have the stamina for the long haul and don’t get lazy with their newly EARNED wealth.


Noise About RIM

What’s up? RIM has come down from its glory days to costing next to nothing. Device innovation has stifled. The BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) is the piece that is still worth something and the client base it has in the prosumer market.

There were rumors about Amazon making a bid for RIM. A logical paring, as RIM doesn’t have a cloud and Amazon does. Amazon could also vitalize RIMs consumer business. Then again the leap from where RIM is today to being competitive makes me wonder.

The other option is a Microsoft/Nokia purchase. It would take a player out of the game. Windows Phone 8 interface to BES would be competitive. The BES user base would give Microsoft’s phone business an additional prosumer boost.Throw BES on Azure. So what is in it for Nokia? Unless Nokia was the buyer and would add BES to its Windows Phone differentiators. BES would give Nokia a much needed boost in the North American market.

It boils down to RIM’s owners understanding that the music has stopped and they need to make some decisions. Whatever happens the fact remains that alone RIM is dead.


Apple’s Cloud Strategy Starting to Find Shape

I’ve written many times that Apple’s iCloud today is really just a virtual repository for media. Apple products of different form factors access content universally, but we’ve not seen any real cloud applications that would have cross functional work flow and/or data sharing/refinement. We are not seeing the partner pool tap into Apple’s core services.

Apple today has over 500,000 partner applications available. Again, I would not call it a ecosystem, since in the classical sense of ecosystem, the members of that ecosystem interact with each other in some way. Currently that interaction is limited to media sharing. Apple’s core services are weak and not open to partners to integrate with and add value to. The core pillars of any ecosystem are unified communications, search, maps and productivity tools. The more the alpha vendor opens their APIs for partners to build on, the stronger the ecosystem will be.

Siri is a bright spark in Apple’s core services toolkit and there are rumors that Apple will offer an API down the road, but not today. Siri clearly differentiates Apple in the search space. Maps & Compass is really Google Maps and provides little differentiation from an ecosystem stand point. iChat, iMessage, iMail, etc. are behind the curve and offer little ecosystem value. iWorks is so far behind competition that it too offers nothing for partners.

Apple will likely come out with an innovate iTV concept. The TV sets will be way more expensive than other solutions and I predict will have a hard time competing with lower cost sets coupled with advanced gaming/media consoles. The Apple product family is purely geared around media consumption and that is where it is likely to stay.


Cloud Data Sharing

Service-oriented architecture (SOA) is a flexible set of design principles used during the phases of systems development and integration in computing. A system based on an SOA will package functionality as a suite of interoperable services that can be used within multiple, separate systems from several business domains. – Wikipedia

The Wikipedia article sums it up nicely! Interoperable SERVICES that can be used in multiple, separate systems. But SOA doesn’t come in a neat package. As a result, the stage where many ISVs are at these days is not SOA, but rather, its mirror image, AOS — an Agglomeration Of Services.

Data Virtualization is key allowing services to access data freely from multiple sources. Srinivasan Sundara Rajan, Solution Architect at Hewlett Packard, defines key principles behind Data Virtualization are: Abstraction which provides location, API, language and storage technology independent access of data; Federation, which converges data from multiple disparate data sources; Transformation, which enriches the quality and quantity of data on a need basis; and On-Demand Delivery, which provides the consuming services the required information on-demand.

WCF Data Services (formerly known as ADO.NET Data Services) enables you to create data services that are based on representational state transfer (REST) and that are accessible through .NET Framework client applications. By using the Entity Framework Provider, you can create data services for a SQL Azure database.

SOA + Data Virtualization = Data Sharing.