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In our earlier post, we wrote about #ISMAC and how it is changing the business ecosystem. In this post we will continue the conversation by understanding the leaders in each of these technology areas. We will also review what each one is doing in that space.
1. Internet of Things (IOT)
Vendors in this space range from chip manufacturers (Intel, ARM, Texas Instruments), mobile and embedded device vendors (Freescale, Qualcom, Ericsson), Home appliance vendors (GE, Bosch), pure-play software developers (Microsoft, Apple, Google, Facebook), Networking vendors (Cisco) and large system integrators (IBM, Oracle, SAP). The spread is so broad given the multitude of technologies that go into making a device intelligent and automated. One of the biggest business and technological
challenges in this area is the need for standards at all hardware and software
layers. Standards are important to
ensure complete hand-shake across device vendors as well as to derive
functionalities at scale. Early-stage research companies will lobby for their
work to become the standard. This tussle
will continue for a few years until the standards bodies get a grip of the
overall collaborations required. A potential obstacle from consumer perspective is the pervasiveness of these devices leading to privacy compromises. This will be a larger problem involving social, economic and political ramifications.
Social sector is already close to maturity on the consumer usage perspective. While there could be finer tweaks, the ability to post 140 character reviews to author elaborate ebooks provides consumers enough to go with. At the backend, processing of these gazillion bytes of data and deriving meaningful value for businesses is key focus area. At the current juncture social channels are simply used for consumer and prospect connect beginning with lead generation through to customer service and repeat customers. Most organizations are working to understand and correlate the various factors that impact the conversion funnel and how best they can take advantage of it themselves.
With about 200 Million feature phones and 80 Million smartphones sold in India in 2014, the data cannot be clearer. Complete ecosystems have formed around mobile exchange of money, ewallet, transaction processing etc. Nationalized banks are also heavily invested in this direction. Ability to transfer money with the swipe of a finger is practical subject to security considerations. While Social is the biggest application used on mobiles (much more data traffic over voice), other ecommerce and financial transactions are not lagging far behind. It is critical for business to adopt a mobile-first strategy in through thinking. Minimalistic and Responsive Design as some of the key deliverables in this space.
The ability to spot the proverbial needle in the haystack holds promise. Analytics space continues to be hot with hundreds of new entrants each quarter. Open Source Technology platforms like Hadoop (sponsored under the Apache Project) play a key role in providing real-time and batch analytics. Quick access data stores like NoSql are very prevalent given the
unstructured nature of data. The need to handle millions of data element inputs per minute has also created a proliferation of queuing technologies that ensure data events are processed without loss. While Analytics is touted as the panacea, this space requires good blend of business acumen combined with computing abilities to derive true
Cloud is the most advanced of all the five technologies. The question is not one of viability any
longer. Usage of cloud has become so
common place that one cannot imagine otherwise.
All our emails, files, photos, documents, videos, photos, blogs are saved
up there in one of the cloud. Cloud infrastructure vendors have gotten the
entire store, access, retrieve cycle ironed out. Redundancy of infrastructure and replication mechanisms have evolved so well to completely hide the true complexity away from the end customer. With companies like Amazon, IBM, Microsoft and others giving out free access to developer’s worldwide, cloud is the only de facto platform to develop applications. It has also brought some semblance of uniformity of development with standardization of infrastructure stack open source products.
In summary, the five technologies listed above are very real and very NOW. Businesses should take advantage of these technologies in ways that is most beneficial for them.
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SMAC (social, mobile, analytics and cloud) and IoT (Internet of Things) are the five buzz words in the technology industry that is driving innovation for business and hence valuations for businesses that are in that space.
Let us address this one by one. In this two part series, we will cover introductory and business aspects of SMAC+IoT in this part and take up deep dive in the next.
SMAC delivers an ecosystem to help businesses have maximum reach with minimal costs. It also helps business to be present in front of the customer without being intrusive. We are all creating peta-bytes of data both in structured and unstructured formats. In today’s day and age, anything that we do on the internet is captured in more than one way. This explosion of structured and unstructured data is generating through billions of devices and services – mobile devices social media, sensors, loyalty programs and browsing website and is creating new business models built upon user-generated data. Each of the four technologies – social, mobile, analytics and cloud (let us keep IoT out of the equation for now) – is critical and creates a synergy and provides immense competitive advantage for businesses when used efficiently.
Social Media has provided billions of users and millions of businesses
with new ways to reach and interact between businesses customers and between customers to customers. The mobile technologies have dramatically altered the way people communicate, shop and work and have fun. Analytics allow businesses to understand how, when and where people consume goods and services. Cloud computing provides a disruptive way to access technology with data a business needs to quickly and respond to rapidly changing markets and solve business problems. Each of the four technologies can impact a business individually. But the power lies in the integration and the coming together of the four is proving to be a disruptive force and is creating entirely new business models for service providers.
While it sounds simple the integration involves immense complexity at the back end. There are tools available to achieve the stated purpose. Integrating SMAC requires clear systems, policies and management tools that can automate business processes. The online-retailer company Amazon is a
good example of a business that has successfully harnessed the power of SMAC.
For example, when an Amazon member buys an item on Amazon on their iPhone, they are given the option to login with Facebook’s social login. After the purchase, customers are given multiple ways to provide social feedback. They can rate their experience with stars, write reviews and/or share what they just bought with friends on Facebook or Twitter. Customer data is stored in the cloud and Amazon can break down its analysis to such a granular a level that its recommendation engine can personalize suggestions for friends that are connected and have similar preferences, a concept known as 1:1 marketing.
Any modern CRM strategy would see such 1:1 marketing as the holy-grail of customer engagement and is the aim of every SMAC initiative. Critics however worry that such massive aggregation of customer data from disparate sources, data that is possibly purchased from data brokers, may violate user privacy and cause legal problems related to compliance and data sovereignty.
In spite of such criticism, SMAC is here to stay. In the next post, I will talk about Internet of Things, IoT that is the next big disruptor. Stay tuned.