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On Tuesday night I attended the preview of Aberdeen Group’s SoMoCloTM research initiative at a VIP dinner hosted by the British-Consulate General’s office in Cambridge (and no I didn’t crash it!). I’d first met Andrew Borg, a Research Director and mobile analyst at Aberdeen, at MassTLC’s Innovation 2011 unconference back in October where we’d co-hosted a discussion on cloud application development., so I’ve seen Aberdeen’s concept mature over the past few months. While Andrew is more or less the face of this effort, it’s clear from the presentation that SoMoClo aggregates the work and viewpoints of a cadre of analysts from multiple business segments. .
Although the term SoMoClo may elicit a certain “not-another-buzzword groan factor,” I’ve come to see there is a lot of value in the approach. I myself tend toward the more practical, tactical aspects of software development – how do I build a application for scale, what are the tradeoffs of SOAP or REST, should I use the relational model or NoSQL, etc. – so had my own initial reservations. That said, I have to say that I’ve also been frustrated by the siloed treatment we often give core and pervasive technologies. We talk about cloud computing and its various boxes – SaaS, PaaS, IaaS, private, public, hybrid, etc. – as if writing a cloud application is the be all and end all. It’s not; the cloud is a platform, and it will become the default platform. Yes we’re in the middle of a paradigm shift (ugh) from the more comfortable and traditional on-premises model, but the cloud in and of itself is a commodity. It’s how you leverage the cloud and how you pull in other aspects of the technical and human ecosystem that provides fuel for innovation and makes these technologies truly disruptive.
That’s where SoMoClo comes in. It’s an attempt to elevate the conversation: it’s not about cloud, it’s not about mobile devices, it’s not about “boring” (as one analyst stated) social interaction capabilities, it’s about the entire package and how that package drives innovation, how it changes the way we think about risk, how it impacts the way we run our own internal businesses, how it makes us reassess our interaction with our customer base, and more. In SoMoClo, the cloud is the canvas on which the application landscape is painted. Mobile is the delivery point, and social is the glue, the web of threads that connect it all. In some ways it just all makes sense, but until this point I haven’t seen a cohesive metaphor or foundation on which to effectively advance the discussion.
Below is the graphic that Andrew and his colleagues used to focus their discussion. I've embedded the interactive image here, to provide easy navigation to the details of the various 'spokes' of their model on the main SoMoClo site.
Even though I’ve been immersed in the cloud space for a while, there were definitely some key takeaways for me on Tuesday night. One message that I think could have been more emphasized is the pressure these new paradigms put on established enterprises. There were, for instance, references to organizations where employees are aging out and the next generation has new expectations and demands. The consumerization of IT (or as Aberdeen rebranded it “IT-ization”) is one example, but so is the demand for immediate and open data access. There’s a demographic or perhaps generational shift as the up-and-coming workforce sees these capabilities as a given. Add to that the democritization aspects of the SoMoClo trinity – everyone has a mobile device; anyone can open a cloud account on Windows Azure, AWS, etc.; there are 850 million Facebook users and over a billion tweets per week – and I’d say the “establishment” had better see the urgency of embracing the meme, because you know the current generation of entrepreneurs is.
A belated thank you for coming to our launch event. The transition from enterprise as direct service provider to service aggregator, mediator, and manager seems to theoretically make IT easier, but it has definitely been a sea-change that has placed stress on the enterprise. The combination of multi-source data aggregation, storage, processing power, and analytics provided by the cloud, filtered through social, then delivered on the mobile device is fascinating. Hope to talk with you more.