Information-Centric Business Computing
by Samuel Greengard
Pervasive networking has changed the way we access and use information.
IT departments long focused on getting crucial bits--documents, spreadsheets, presentations, whatever--to the right personal computer. But thanks to nearly ubiquitous Internet connectivity and cloud computing, workers are now relying on smartphones, tablets, even gaming consoles to access their data.
Increasingly, we're able to sync and share data across devices, and also share it with teams. In fact, peer-to-peer capabilities, such as Dropbox, are looking like a game changer, though they remain more evolutionary than revolutionary.
But we still have quite a ways to go to reach truly seamless integration. These days, it's not unusual to use an iPad at a meeting, a smartphone in the field and a personal computer at the office or at home. Unfortunately, viewing all the same information on all these different devices is difficult, if not impossible.
The Holy Grail is to turn on any computing device at any time and have access to everything in the exact same state.
Client-server computing is increasingly a choke point rather than an enabler of productivity. Virtualization and cloud computing, on the other hand, offer the opportunity to break free and unleash data--everything from conventional files to unstructured data fragments.
Soon, the way people think and work will change radically as the familiar file and folder metaphors become obsolete. The data stream--everything from social media and geolocation bits to audio and video bytes--will flow like a massive river through the enterprise. The ability to sift through this flow will determine whether an organization is able to transform raw data and information into knowledge and thereby gain a competitive advantage.
Already, more and more applications are turning to tags and organizations are tapping next generation analytics capabilities to manage this unstructured data stream. Expect entirely new types of software and algorithms that will redefine the way work gets done. This will create a wider gap between the winners and losers.
Smart companies are looking for ways to rip apart the existing IT engine and build a new model that's information-centric rather than device centric. It isn't called the Information Age for nothing.