#25: Here’s a thought…

November 7, 2009
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An occasional series in which a review of recent posts on SmartData Collective reveals the following nuggets:

And the customer is…
A critical first step for your company is to develop your definition of a customer. Don’t underestimate either the importance or the difficulty of this process. And don’t assume it is simply a matter of semantics. Some of my consulting clients have indignantly told me: “We don’t need to define it, everyone in our company knows exactly what a customer is.” I usually respond: “I have no doubt that everyone in your company uses the word customer; however, I will work for free if everyone defines the word customer in exactly the same way.” So far, I haven’t had to work for free.  

—Jim Harris: Customer Incognita

Cloud defined
But I do think our fascination with clouds and technical jargon is doing some damage to our overall messaging. What are SaaS or cloud applications anyway? In my definition cloud apps are SW applications that are sold on a subscription basis (so the software is leased rather than purchased), maintained by the vendor (patches and upgrades are installed by the vendor or the vendor’s partner) and the app is available over the internet.



An occasional series in which a review of recent posts on SmartData Collective reveals the following nuggets:

And the customer is…
A critical first step for your company is to develop your definition of a customer. Don’t underestimate either the importance or the difficulty of this process. And don’t assume it is simply a matter of semantics. Some of my consulting clients have indignantly told me: “We don’t need to define it, everyone in our company knows exactly what a customer is.” I usually respond: “I have no doubt that everyone in your company uses the word customer; however, I will work for free if everyone defines the word customer in exactly the same way.” So far, I haven’t had to work for free.  

—Jim Harris: Customer Incognita

Cloud defined
But I do think our fascination with clouds and technical jargon is doing some damage to our overall messaging. What are SaaS or cloud applications anyway? In my definition cloud apps are SW applications that are sold on a subscription basis (so the software is leased rather than purchased), maintained by the vendor (patches and upgrades are installed by the vendor or the vendor’s partner) and the app is available over the internet. The SW can be located at the SW vendor’s data center, a partner’s data center or even the clients data center by the way, but the customer pays 1 fee (not 1 to the vendor and 1 to the hosting partner). As far as I’m concerned that’s it, nothing else is required.

—Michael Fauscette: Cloudy days

Cloud monopolized
What? Cloud and monopoly? Isn’t utility computing a perfect example of fiercely competitive commodity where the price curve is shaped only by demand/supply? What would Nick Carr say? Unfortunately not. As much as we read about different cloud providers, AWS is the only real provider of “infrastructure as a service” in town. If you don’t want to be locked-in to proprietary Python or .Net libraries, there is not that much choice. Until we see performance/price of AWS double every two years, we should still wonder about monopolistic pricing.

This is getting really hard
The expansion to character-based languages may have a deeper implication for the mobile Web. The essential structure of semantic programming is based on a subject (Ridley Scott) – predicate (directed) – object (Blade Runner) model. The semantic triple allows data to be handled more flexibly than in relational databases, where relationships need to be known at the time of the schema’s creation. Triplesets, by contrast, can be expanded to form graphs (Blade Runner – grossed – $33,000,000, Ridley Scott – directed – Harrison Ford) in order that web data can become queryable (how many Oscar-winning actors did Ridley Scott direct?). As smartphones become the Internet access device for much of the developing world, how will the various semantics of their many languages inform the deeper structure of Web data and data retrieval? Down the road, the non-Latin Web may have implications for Oracle, Amazon, and IBM at the same time that it challenges carriers and device companies.

Risky business
Re-identification of presumably de-identified data shifts the discussion of text analytics into the realm of privacy and ethics. It is my hope that society comes to grips with ways to manage these risks.

Power to the carriers
Some people are saying a great Droid would mean more competition amongst handsets. But you can’t really choose a handset – you choose a handset-carrier pair. The real innovation inhibitor in the cellular world has been the power of the carriers to dictate what devices you can use and what apps go on those devices. Just ask an entrepreneur who tried to create handsets or cellular apps. They are completely beholden to the whims of the carriers.

Don’t forget the processing
I’ll keep preaching that data-integration processes should be developed using ETL tools rather than hand coding. But what I have learned along the way is I also need to advocate that anyone using these tools learn not just about the tool but more importantly about ETL processing.