In the 1980s, hypertext documents marked the beginning of modern Internet. While commercial Internet Service Providers (ISPs) emerged, the connected world laid its foundation. Over the past three decades, the connected world has transformed significantly, though arguably a tad slow.
For considerable duration, we used emails, chats, and forums to communicate. The advent of social networking and smart devices changed the scenario. Now, communication was not restricted by space and time and had an added level of context (personal vs. work, location, event, and cause, among others). This was a remarkable change, which took a long duration to culminate.
Simultaneously, we were interested in communicating with machines. Rather, this aspect became essential. Look at these examples:
- Echo from Amazon
- Google Now
- Home Automation Systems
- Apps such as SoundHound
- Word Lens
With knowledge, assistance, and advice in real-time, anytime and anywhere; SMAC now enables us to get contextual access to information, data, and computing uninhibited by time and place. The Internet of Things (IoT) or Internet of Everything (IoE) adds machines to the mix of actors, data generators, and consumers.
Some characteristics remain though where the SMAC ecosystem should balance and its challenges.
The core of the SMAC ecosystem comprises massive data storage, information, and compute and apps accessible in the cloud through smart devices such as desktop, tablets, laptops, phones, kiosks, Echo, Smart TV, and Connected Car.
The ecosystem entities play the following roles:
- Is the backbone for this ecosystem to sustain.
- Is the home for knowledge and intelligence (data, compute and algorithms or apps).
- Enables devices (mobile, nonmobile) to achieve much more than they could with their limited abilities and access.
- Is the mix of technology and human expertise to create intelligence out of data.
- Can see and predict what hides in petabytes of data both in real-time and otherwise.
- Social media:
- Is represented by a plethora of channels or hubs.
- Is the source of understanding of characteristics, personalities, sentiments, and happenings, among others.
- Is one of the major information sources both for humans and the machines to learn more about the real world and ourselves.
- Plays a dual role:
- Represents the access point to this machine ecosystem
- Is the sensor or perception point of the real world and the real people at the other end of the ecosystem
- Includes the smartphone that we carry along with any form of movable device with compute resources or a device that runs a mobile platform.
The new-generation consumer wants the following missing or rare qualities from the SMAC ecosystem:
The cloud has millions of services, apps, and social platforms. The ratings and search systems to bring forth such services and apps have restricted ability to discover the real value of the service for the specific audience, consumer, and scenarios. To evaluate the fitment real time at the transaction or interaction level, we want better, deeper discovery and rating mechanisms. Several of these services are funded and evolved by organizations having an underlying business model that is adequately complex to earn revenue from indirect value vs. selling the specific service. Because every business is trying to preserve and extend its market share, expecting standardization is difficult. This leads to interoperability. To bridge lack of deep discovery, third-party platforms and services need to emerge.
We can support better value and use cases if the solutions on these platforms are more standardized and accessible to each other. To extract the most of their capabilities, it should be easy to switch them. If providers can lower their walls and have business models where they can share revenue for the collective value they can give to their consumer and accelerate evolution, the scenario would be better.
To provide personalized, contextual value, providers need snooping through our digital footprints and transactional information either through emails, browser history, profiles, social network handles, and address book, among others. One expects a level where provider knows only user’s preference and current life and not any transactional information. There needs to be an emergence of a black box service that should respond to queries to know only user’s behavior, preference, and choice at a specified moment.
- Usable during blackouts:
Processing huge volumes of data results in personalization and intelligence. This processing needs mass storage and compute capacity over the cloud, and it works only in online way. The present connectivity is expensive and unreliable. The providers work fiercely to enrich the back end. We need parallel efforts to create lightweight on device or premise versions that feed off from the back end from time to time.
The connected SMAC world is enriching our lives whether it is through – Uber: for on demand disruptive transportation, Healthcare through connected health devices, projects like eMamata for social issues, Connected homes and many more ways.
The world needs rapid evolution of the connected ecosystem and emergence of connected consciousness.
(Kiran Kembhavi is Principal Consultant – Technology Practice, Cybage.)