Cloud computing: Enabling the ‘next big wave’

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It is generally accepted that we are entering the next big wave in technology, as I mentioned in my previous blog post, “IBM’s big bets: OpenStack and Cloud Foundry.”  Each of these waves comes along roughly every generation, starting with back-office computing in the 1960s and moving to client/server around 1980. Web began to rise in the mid-to-late 1990s, and is now giving way to cloud.

Each generation brings along a set of expectations and world views that are not accessible to the previous generation.  As they reach the age of innovation, their unique world view fuels the rise of that next big wave.

With the cloud wave rising, I wonder what lies on the horizon—what will the next big wave look like?

We can start by looking at the experiences of our youngest generation.  One of my favorite stories is from a few years back when my son was two years old. We had just acquired a touchscreen tablet and he loved playing with it.  We also had satellite TV that displayed a pop-up window for incoming calls containing the caller information.  The first time it blocked his show, my son walked up to the screen and used his finger to repeatedly press OK. When it didn’t disappear, he tried to swipe it off the screen with his finger. I would never think to interact with my TV in that way. I would have grabbed the remote or pressed the buttons on the side.  But to my two year old, it was expected.

What else do they expect? Personalization.  They have their own profiles for tablets and computers, and their own tailored portals for education at school that learn strengths and weaknesses and focus their time appropriately.  Toys ask for names, birthdays and favorite colors.  They expect the world to optimize for them—to know them and what they want.

So what is my educated guess? The next big wave will be based on a highly interactive, personalized world; everything you touch and do will know who you are and all about your preferences. Instruct the TV to turn on (and it won’t be with a remote!) and it will just go to the channel it expects you want to watch based on viewing patterns. You might walk into a room and your favorite music starts playing.  If you have a long road trip planned on your calendar, your car will prompt you to fill up the day before.  What else will be available? I don’t know, but I do know it will take the innovation of the next generation to reach its full potential.

What would be the enabler of this highly interactive, personalized world?  The cloud of course, just as the web enabled cloud and client/server the web.

What do you think is next? Let me know on Twitter @mjfork.

Director and Distinguished Engineer, IBM Cloud Infrastructure

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