Shipwrecked on Data Island


by Samuel Greengard

We surf the web with ease, but much of our data remains trapped and isolated on different islands. Despite all the hoopla over cloud computing and syncing capabilities, we still have a long ways to go to create the level of integration necessary for real-world activities.

Don't get me wrong, Google Sync is excellent. And Apple's upcoming iCloud will likely revolutionize mobility. But what happens when I want to transfer driving instructions from my smartphone or computer to my car? Right now, I have to type the address into the navigation system. Ditto for my address book. Although my Acura can read my iPhone's contacts via Bluetooth and store them in a directory, this system--at least as far as I can tell--doesn't interact with the primary system in the car--which is voice activated.

In other words, I spin my wheels entering data manually. Some auto manufacturers, including BMW, Nissan, Ford and GM, are beginning to integrate with outside services, including Google Maps. But others seem to be stuck somewhere between slow adoption and no adoption.

And it's not just cars that are a problem. Most software applications still lack basic syncing capabilities and they make it difficult to keep files up-to-date across different devices and users. SharePoint is terrific, as long as everyone in your group uses it. Dropbox works wonderfully but it is more a Band-Aid than an actual solution.

While a few applications offer an ability to sync to IOS or Android devices, few make it easy to sync between a desktop and laptop. It's as if these executives and developers don't use their own software!

I know the computing landscape has changed rapidly over the last couple of years. I understand that hitting a moving target isn't easy. But, vendors, IT departments, everyone...let's start thinking about making data accessible anytime, anywhere and on any device.