It was 3:05pm; I was driving from Austin to Dallas to meet a customer and stopped at a gas station in Temple to get some cold beverages.

As I was paying at the counter my phone received a calendar alert. I looked at it, and it was my car manufacturer’s global diagnostic system informing me that my car needed an urgent service and that a service appointment was already made for me at a Waco dealer at 3:30pm. The calendar entry showed that the repair time would be 30 minutes. I accepted the calendar invite since Waco was just a dozen miles away. The systems also warned me that it would put my 5pm meeting in Dallas in jeopardy as I was going to enter rush hour traffic, and it proposed to send a meeting update to the meeting participants informing them of the potential delay. I confirmed the change and proceeded to go get my car serviced as recommended.

How did all this happen?

While I was buying my cold drinks, my car health check monitor connected with the gas station Wi-Fi network and synced with my car manufacturer’s cloud-based diagnostic service.  Prior to the availability of such technology, I would have had to experience a problem or see an alert on my dashboard before becoming aware of the issue.  I would then have had to arrange for my car to be serviced, or worse, would have had brake failure and sat on the side of the road waiting for a tow truck or been stuck in a ditch somewhere.

Today, with cloud-based global diagnostic systems running on Windows Azure, the car can transmit the hundreds of parameters captured by its army of sensors active in my car.  In this particular case, the cloud diagnostic service was able to identify a potential major fault in my brake system by doing an analysis comparing my vehicle’s current brake performance with data from more than 45,000 of the same model car in use in the US.   Back in the day, your dealer would use a very expensive diagnostic system to identify the problem, and none of the data would be available for compiling a database of brake performance characteristics across all vehicles on the road.

How did it know about Waco? The Cloud system got information on my current position and destination from my in-car GPS system.  Since my mechanical problem was a priority-one issue, the diagnostic application identified the closest dealer in the area, and using the dealer cloud service scheduler, booked a service appointment at my expected time of arrival after having ensured the required parts were in stock.

This imaginary but possible scenario highlights one of the biggest potential areas for the Cloud - services innovation. Companies can now use secure and reliable continuous cloud services such as Microsoft Windows Azure to develop innovative service scenarios that would delight their customers.

Initial cloud service opportunities will be most compelling for high value assets such as cars, planes, trucks, boats, energy, ecology, etc. as well as for people and pets that are invaluable assets and for the growing cloud-based services for appliances, home, security, etc.

By leveraging the Windows Azure platform, enterprises have a tremendous opportunity to accelerate innovation.  Find out more at Microsoft Windows AZURE.

In the Cloud, the big can be small and the small can be big…

It's the Cloud innovation power!

JC