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The space between: Where is the real value in SMAC?

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“The space between where you smile and hide
is where you’ll find me if I get to go.”
-Dave Matthews Band

First, for those of you that have read my previous post, the answer is no – I don’t always start my posts with song lyrics.  It takes three data points to make a trend, and so far I only have two!

Second, I am not even a @davematthewsbnd fan, but this song popped in my head recently in a discussion around the New Era of Computing. There are different names for this “New Era” (like Gartner’s Nexus and IDC’s Third Platform), but the New Era revolves around the emergence of social networks, mobile device proliferation, embedded analytics and a cloud delivery model.  I just like to use the term “SMAC” for short.  To find out how this convergence of technologies is driving innovation, you need to look in the “space between” these phenomena to really see where technology is going.

What do I mean by that? It is sort of a “1+1+1+1 = 10” story. As each of the aforementioned technology movements developed, the innovation was within – innovative social platforms, devices and apps for mobile, Hadoop-related big data/analytics technologies and maturing cloud platforms. Today, innovation is occurring in the combination of two or more elements. Let me give you a few examples torn from recent headlines.

Amazon announced that it is acquiring Goodreads. As a user of both, I was delighted (my wife, a Goodreads purist, was less excited). My hope is that the resulting Goodreads – which is already strong in its social aspect and mobile usage – will benefit greatly from Amazon’s Kindle platform, cloud storage/delivery model and deep analytics. Think of Goodreads as your portal into Amazon – you maintain your library and share your opinions on Goodreads, but can leverage Amazon’s massive cloud infrastructure, ability to buy/sell books and store your e-library. Goodreads also has great peer-based analytics for book recommendations, which should only get better when combined with Amazon. This to me is a great consumer-oriented SMAC example.

On the business front, I really enjoyed IBM’s new commercials during last weekend’s Masters golf tournament. Previously, IBM has touted its cloud strategy in helping customers take advantage of the cloud delivery model, but now IBM is showing its leadership in social computing, mobile computing and big data/analytics. You watch each of these commercials and you start to get a sense of the importance of these four shifts and what it means to the future of enterprise computing.  Taken together, though, the possibilities are endless.

You can follow me on Twitter @rictelford as I track a lot of the happenings in the world of SMAC, or for Flipboard users, I recently started a “SMAC Talk” magazine. Today, much of what I find is about each individual technology but over time I think we will see the power of convergence and the “space between.” Stay tuned!

Continue this discussion with me next Friday, April 26, as I lead a chat on Facebook that will cover SMAC, the Internet of Things, security and open standards. RSVP to the event here, and I look forward to chatting with you!

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