Early signs of the fourth wave of the tech economy are emerging, according to Forrester Research’s information technology innovation report.
Unlike the past three waves driven by mainframes, PCs and the internet, this phase will begin sooner and spread faster than historical cycles suggest, and will lead to a “truly IT everywhere” planet.
Forrester has identified four trends as “the seeds of the next big thing”.
Digital business architecture: An architecture stack to succeed web-based applications, comprising cheap, virtualised hardware and network resources at the bottom, shared software and services in the middle, and business intelligence and interaction platforms on top.
Extended internet: The X internet will connect systems to physical assets, products and devices, from RFID and telematics to mobile networks and biometrics.
Innovation networks: A business model for software development that lets companies match demand for innovation with worldwide sources of talent and capital.
Social computing: Companies will tap into the social structure created by search engines, blogs and viral marketing.
Excerpts from a Business Week interview with Paul Jacobs, who took over as CEO on July 1:
The industry is going through a change where voice has essentially been commoditized, and the operators are looking for how they can generate additional revenues through data services.
One thing that has changed is we used to build a radio interface and say what are the applications we can do with it? Now it’s almost the other way — where we envision an application, and we say how do we build the radio interface to optimize that?
The mobile phone has advantages over the PC because it’s something that you always have with you. And you can do certain things better on the phone.
There is only one thing you need to understand about RSS and news aggregators.
It explains why this such an important and at times such a difficult issue for us.
It is this:
None of this has been developed to make traditional publishers lives any easier or our businesses any healthier. It is all there for our readers and it does a very good job for them.
The result is that the world of RSS and aggregation is fraught with complexity, but understanding it and coping with it is, I believe, one of the most critical parts of a successful long term online publishing strategy.
Joi Ito writes:
According to articles in the press, there are 5-6 million blogs. These are not to be confused with hompy. Hompy (a derivative of home page) are personal home pages with photo albums, guest books, avatars, background skins, and background music. There are approximately 10 million hompy pages. In a city with a population of 10 million and a country with a population of 45 million, that’s quite impressive. Companies seem to be making money selling background music and items for hompy pages. Most of the posts are focused on photos and one line comments on pages of friends. They are generally closed communities and are focused more on real-time presence-like communication rather than diary or dialog.
Cyworld, which sounded like the leader for hompys has a feature they call “scrap”. This allows you to copy/paste content from other web pages easily to your hompy. On of the problems that I see with this is that this simple built-in feature does not provide a link back to the original source. It is rumored engineers who designed this left and joined Naver, one of the leading blog companies and created a similar feature for them. Generally speaking, it sounded like people don’t link very much. They are still mostly plain html and not css + xhtml. There seemed to be some trackback implementation, but it is not yet as widely used as in the US or Japan. As far as I could tell, none of the blog systems used any of the standard APIs, and some had RSS feeds. Blogs and hompys don’t seem to be pinging any pinger sites, which makes them nearly invisible to the outside world. In addition, many sites block search engine bots from crawling hompys and blogs.
Paul Golding writes:
Let’s think of an application to illustrate the possible advantages of AJAX in the mobile context. Let’s choose one of the most popular portal experiences, which is surfing for downloadable ring tones. Sorry if you don’t use custom ring tones, but a lot of people do. Even if you don’t, I suggest surfing your operator portal to get a feel for the pain involved.
The ring tones are usually listed in alphabetical order for each genre, like rock, 80’s pop, indie, etc. Most portals seem to insist that users have to page through lots of listings to find the one they want to try (or buy). It would be much more efficient and usable to allow the user to scroll through a list of tones, or use a suggestion-panel, to home in on the desired tone. Also, if it’s a midi tone, then it can also be pulled into the page without re-loading and allow a helper object to play the tone.
Of course, this is speculation. I’m not in a position to try this out with a mobile device and the actual performance and usability improvements are guess work. However, I suspect that the improvements would be real.
CommunicAsia in Singapore was, for me, a wonderful condensation of the Asian mobility and broadband scenario. It left me with little doubt that the mobile phone will increasingly be at the centre of our lives. And with broadband connectivity over both wireline and wireless networks, tomorrows world is waiting to be catalysed and capitalised upon. This opportunity is likely to be even bigger than the Internet.
I have excerpted here some of my thoughts on CommunicAsia, mobility and broadband from my Business Standard column which I wrote shortly after my return.
The conference sessions were focused around the telecom scenario in Asia. They provided a fascinating glimpse of the region with different countries at different stages in the evolution of their communications and services infrastructure. The leaders are undoubtedly Japan and South Korea, while the two biggest opportunities are China and India. Taiwan and Singapore are racing ahead to deploy broadband, 3G and wireless LANs. Hong Kong has the best IP-TV service. An interesting fact: last year, nearly a million new mobile users added every day. The world now has 1.8 billion mobile users.
Two words that were heard a lot at the conference were convergence and ecosystem. Convergence is finally becoming a reality as the next-generation networks with all-IP cores are making it possible to have triple play services (voice, data and video) flow over the same network. Convergence is also happening in terms of the fixed line and wireless worlds in both the networks and handsets. Convergence technology drivers include SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) and IMS (IP Multimedia System). There will be a time soon when our handsets will support WiFi and GSM/CDMA, such that in hotspots they would use WiFi to make and receive calls, while at other locations they would use the cellular networks.
Ecosystem is about the realization that there is no single company which has all the answers, and there is a web of relationships to deliver valuable services to consumers and enterprises. Operators control the networks (and the customer relationships), but they need a combination of cheaper access devices and compelling services to drive traffic and revenues. An ecosystem approach is about creating win-win scenarios for the entire value chain.
The vision for the future is simple, seamless and personal communications from wireline and wireless networks. Tomorrows world will be one where users will be able to communicate anytime, anywhere from the device of their choice. Users will be able to define their own experiences, and the network will become more intelligent to bring highly personalised services to users. All of this will bring about a significant lifestyle change for consumers and also enable the real-time enterprise.
The dream of this world of seamless mobility has been there for many years. But the work that has been happening in the background is now making it all possible. Parallel trends in digitisation are making a huge array of content available to us on any of the screens TV, PC or the mobile. The focal point is now shifting from the network to the user. What people really want is to be connected, informed, entertained and do so in their own way. Whether one is at home or work, commuting or in public places, the networks will connect us to friends, family, colleagues at work, and our business information.