In the early 1990’s, I like many in my profession would sing the praises of client-server computing and how it was such a quantum leap from the old days of IBM 3270 terminals hooked to mainframes. Then the internet happened and for a lot of folks, client-server was consigned to the dustbin of history. But not-so-fast, driven by economic necessity, old technology and a clever entrepreneur, client-server is making a comeback in the classrooms of NYC.
An article on The Verge website describes in detail how Neverware is using a sophisticated server, running an internal private cloud within a school, to provide a consistent user experience across a jumble of new and old technologies. Gone are the days of long boot times and slow response depending on which computer a student was assigned. It is also extensible to support the latest technology challenge of BYOD (bring your own device). As I said very clever and inexpensive, relative to a full technology refresh which schools today just don’t have the money for.
With the federal mandate “that all public schools will have to administer their standardized tests digitally by the 2014-2015 school year”. Neverware may well be the answer schools are looking for.
(reminder and disclaimer – I work for IBM, but these are personal comments)
Almost three years ago, in Febraury 2010 (yeah, I know – three years!) the Economist ran a supplement called “The Data Deluge“, about Big Data and how it was transforming businesses all over the world. In the middle of the supplement was an article called ‘Clicking for Gold‘, in which there’s a quote from Tim O’Reilly, who says that companies like Google, Amazon and Facebook ‘…are uncomfortable bringing so much attention to this because it is at the heart of their competitive advantage. Data are the coin of the realm. They have a big lead over other companies that do not ‘get’ this.’ For the intervening time, I’ve been quoting this to telcos all over the world, and they nod their heads, and – for the most part – don’t do much about it.
Spent an hour or so reading a great report on the “State of the Internet” by Analysys Mason for the Internet Society. It is a rebuttal to those who think the Internet is falling apart, needs fixing including the proposed shift to ‘sending network pays’.
The document is an excellent primer of the state of the internet today, the crucial role of IXPs and how historically three forces, technology, investment and changes in traffic flows have collectively met the challenge of the exploding use of the internet.
A good case in point, caught the tale end of a report on my local NPR station about how researchers at MIT and elsewhere that uses an algebraic equation to reconstitute dropped packets thereby removing data congestion bottlenecks. The results are very impressive to quote:
Testing the system on Wi-Fi networks at MIT, where 2 percent of packets are typically lost, Medard’s group found that a normal bandwidth of one megabit per second was boosted to 16 megabits per second. In a circumstance where losses were 5 percent—common on a fast-moving train—the method boosted bandwidth from 0.5 megabits per second to 13.5 megabits per second. In a situation with zero losses, there was little if any benefit, but loss-free wireless scenarios are rare. [source]
Looks as if the internet will be around for a couple more years after all.
It’s been fifteen years now since the Global Mobile Commerce Forum launched in 1997, at a hotel in Heathrow Airport. They talked about “the delivery of electronic commerce capabilities directly into the consumer’s hand, anywhere, via wireless technology” and “a retail outlet in your best customer’s pocket”. In a rather quaint and rare example of a forecast that was horribly understated as the dot com boom got underway, they even predicted that there would be as many as 150 million mobile telephony users by the year 2000. Ah, we were innocent then!
Microsoft today announced a write down of $6.2bn in their online advertising business, essentially wiping out their $6.3bn acquisition of aQuantive in 2007, and conceding defeat in the online display ad segment. Display ads are a particular part of the ad business, dominated by Google through it’s acquisition of DoubleClick (in a competitive process against Microsoft) shortly before the Redmond behemoth completed its largest ever acquisition at that time. Search advertising – with Bing – and other parts of its ad portfolio remain, but there are concerns.
Most service providers have a multi-channel strategy, or a digital channel strategy, or some strategic objective to achieve “the right channel mix”. In a typically inside-out view of the world, each new channel that emerges (social media is a “new” channel, for example) is added to the others, and attempts are made to leverage unified processes so that there’s an integrated view of the customer, or a 360 degree view of the customer.
Meanwhile, the entire retail industry is digitizing. Just as IBM (who, in the interests of full disclosure, pay the wages of your correspondent) is talking about the increased importance of the CMO, Forrester have come out with some new research about how eBusiness is moving to the c-Suite. Apple has revolutionised the mobile phone business, the telco business, the consumer electronics business, and – crucially – the retail business. Everyone is racing to catch up, and while the traditional retailers have been lumbering into the online world ten or more years since mainstream internet adoption became real, suddenly they are being overtaken once again by an integrated digital mobile ecosystem that is further eroding retail conventions. So different retailers have done different things. Tesco and Walmart developed the online channel but both continue to struggle in a world that moves too fast for their scale; Best Buy still writhes in anguish; and Borders went bust. Quoting from Peter Sheldon over at Forrester, “In tomorrow’s Wi-fi connected, digitally enabled store, fixed checkout aisles and cash registers will fade away; instead the entire floor becomes the point of sale.”
There’s a strange dilemma in telco. Worldwide demand for its core product is skyrocketing, and all that the industry can do is complain about it. When you step back from it, it’s quite bizarre. It’s like a spoiled child, given everything they could ever want, with no restrictions, and over-protective parents decrying any attempt at discipline. Then, when the child has to fend for itself in the big bad world, she is totally unequipped to even consider the threats and opportunities that presents.