Following up on last week’s post on SMAC,I put together a rough graphic to structure a quick way of thinking about the intersections of Social, Mobile, Analytics, and Cloud in terms of the practical and value-driven aspects that businesses receive.
First, I should clarify my view of Social, Mobile, Analytics, and Cloud, as they tend to be broader than most people would consider.
When I think about Social, I’m not just thinking about social networking or social media. For me, social encapsulates the efforts we make to collaborate, including Unified Communications, online communities and even application User Experience enhancements which translate information for employees and customers. After all, the most complicated back-end technologies to understand behavior are useless if nobody provides any information in the first place.
Mobility consists of endpoints ranging from smartphones to tablets to laptops, but also includes the sensors, agents, and meters that collect data as well. Consider, for instance, how a company like TRA Global collects operational information such as anonymized purchasing data and TV remote control tuning information to provide correlations that were impossible to create just a few years ago.
Analytics refers to the world of business intelligence, predictive analytics, performance management, Big Data, and data management. Despite W. Edwards Deming’s famous quote, “In God we trust, all others bring data,” we are only now starting to reach a point where line-of-business departments are starting to consistently make data-driven decisions rather than simply going with a gut feel based on experience. It’s not because employees want to make bad decisions; it’s that data access and analytic tools have been too complex or challenging to use for the vast majority of employees. I think we’re about to enter a Golden Age of internal analytics adoption in 2013 as all the pieces finally start coming together: usability, visualization, and business demand.
And then there’s the Cloud. The cloud-washing of the past few years has been disappointing to see, since it has created a lot of confusion for the market. I try to keep it simple: cloud requires remote, multi-tenant hosting. If you host something on a remote server, that’s not the cloud; that’s just the same server/mainframe-based computing model we’ve had for several decades. Let’s call a spade a spade. If you’re creating a “private cloud”, that’s not a cloud either. It improves internal resource utilization and management, but it only scales to the size of your current hardware investment. The “private cloud” is an important step in the evolution of the data center and there’s still a great need for on-premise resources in many organizations, but the limitations of the “private cloud” become obvious in a SMAC world view where the benefits of these technology interactions are limited from a capital expenditure perspective.
I could have placed these ovals differently and created intersections of Social Mobile and Cloud Analytics. However, Social Mobile without a cloud component basically consists of text messaging, telephony, and other carrier services. Even then, there is a carrier services “cloud” that is often ignored. And although cloud analytics companies such as Birst and GoodData play a key role in radically changing and increasing access to analytics capabilities, I’d argue that cloud hasn’t transformed the usage of analytics as much as social and mobile technologies have. (I’d love to hear the counterargument!)
But what’s also interesting is how the primary intersections line up with corporate departments. Social Cloud plays a role in partner interactions, supply chain collaboration, and strategic communications. Social Analytics matters for social CRM, marketing and employee performance use cases. Mobile Analytics is important for manufacturing, supply chain issues, and service outages. The Mobile Cloud becomes a core enabler for sales, field service, ERP, and corporate performance management. By understanding the value of these intersections, we can start to translate the qualitative benefits associated with these technologies into a tangible and quantitative ROI.