Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Always on! Always connected!

These days it seems I'm always connected - iPad, Blackberry and the ever reliable laptop! I may fuss over the complexities of keeping calendars in synch, but I wouldn't have it any other way! There's simply no going back ... oh boy!

I spend way too much time walking the floors of car service bays where there’s always the possibility of spotting something new or different. To me, these cars are works of art where I will pause and absorb the craftsmanship involved.

The picture above is of the work bays in the specialty shop, Dragon Pro Street Engineering, where high-end Corvettes, Vipers and Ford GTs are routinely worked on and where, in the background and a little out of focus, can be seen the famous “Yellow Skull Vette” that recently graced the cover of Vette magazine.

There was a time when you would simply park your car at any car dealers’ service center, tell them what was required, and hand over the keys. It wasn’t all that long ago either that the service staff would call to advise you of what needed to be done, the parts that had to be ordered, and provide you with a projection as to how much it would cost. But not anymore; today we live in not just an always-on world, but in a world that increasingly is “always-connected!”

Readers of this blog will recall a few weeks ago, in the post of March 28th, “Control, choices, and options!” I wrote of the difficulties I had with the AWD Skyline in dealing with the snow and ice that accumulated as a winter blizzard hit the Sierras, east of Sacramento. Taking the car in for service last week, they found the tires had worn out. Later over latte, I simply went on to the Internet, checked out the tire wholesalers, and picked a set; selected the two-day ground delivery service and paid using my PayPal account.

Returning home Friday night from an afternoon lapping at the local race track, Margo suggested it was time we upgraded the brake pads to something better suited to the speeds we were now reaching. An hour or so later, even though it was early in the evening and the start of a holiday weekend, parts were ordered and would be delivered in two to three days.

It’s an always-on world that allows me to be always-connected and I’m finding myself doing business at any time of day and whether it’s from my iPad, my Blackberry, or my laptop. I am always able to respond quickly to whatever situation arises; and it’s changing the way I do business.

Initially I had been concerned about the reception I would receive from the car service centers as I dealt directly with national “warehouse style” chains. However, these local businesses knowing that they cannot compete with the purchasing strength of the larger chains, have made adjustments. In both cases, installing new tires and replacing brake pads, they simply asked to have the items delivered directly to their parts operations and then yes, reduced their charges!

Were they worried about the loss of the revenue opportunity? Not entirely; in a way, it simplified what they needed to do and gave them the opportunity to service more cars! Equally as important, it helped them scale back on their inventories. They were fully aware that their customers were turning to the Internet to enjoy the savings it provided and these service departments could see it was a change that wasn’t going to go away. Their “end users” were now a lot savvier and it was better business to work with them than to steer them elsewhere.

Being always on, always-connected, as is the case these days, has its challenges certainly, and becoming disciplined to ignore the unnecessary invasions into what you may be dong is one practice I am slowly embracing. However, I view this as a significant advancement in terms of my own modernization and in the way it’s changing my life. Yes, I consider myself a modern user as I sip a latte at my favorite coffee shop and then complete an order for a new set of tires on my iPad all while scanning USA Today for catchy headlines I can leverage in future blog posts!

For the past three weeks, I have been covering in posts to the blog comForte Lounge the subject of changing users’ (as well as vendors’) expectations as users’ mobility increases and I wrote about the channels it is creating. In the post last week, “My finger on NonStop!” I referenced Jim Tomaney who proposed that “in 2011 your online film service (indeed any of the services of this type) needs to be as robust as a 1980s ATM system!” Two weeks earlier in the post, “Shorten these lines!” I referenced an announcement from Gartner, “by 2015, companies will generate 50% of their Web sales via their social presence and mobile applications.”

At a time when always-on, always-connected, brings with it so much anticipation for yet even greater developments, it’s also producing major shifts in the tectonic plates that underpin the major vendors, HP included. In a twist to what HP CEO Apotheker covered in his strategy unveiling in late March, THINKsrategies Managing Director, Jeff Kaplan was reported as having said “the theme of (Apotheker’s) talk, and HP’s new mantra, is providing ‘connectivity’ to the Cloud, to move ‘Everyone On.’”

In other words, in a truly modern world, all of us will be active participants. And everything we need to know will be at our fingertips, just a few keystrokes away. However, for this to really take hold and deliver the usefulness that we believe it should, as Tomaney noted, “it needs to be as robust as 1980s ATM systems!”

In the discussions I have had with a number of you, this is where the dilemma arises. Can this be a clarion call to ramp-up our usage of NonStop? Should we all be dusting-off our NonStop programming skills and should we be picking up the phone to let the headhunters know we are ready to start right away! Could this be a bonus for anyone that has worked with NonStop? Perhaps not!

There is a potential role for NonStop in providing the robustness anticipated but its presence may be as transparent as is the delivery infrastructure for electricity, gas, and water. In this modern world where we all participate and where the infrastructure and services are indeed as robust as we mandate, the adoption of NonStop will only come about based on the ease with which it can be deployed.

Cloud Computing has come as an extensions to our pursuits of “X as a Service” and where today, we envisage everything as a service – whether Platform, Infrastructure, Software, whatever. But it will be the deployment of modern NonStop servers that provides the robustness we will depend upon, and where its very presence may be hard to recognize.

Perhaps running the data base, accessed through simple ODBC / JDBC calls? Perhaps running an industry-standard app-server? What is possible with NonStop is not the issue. How many of us really appreciate that the 911 emergency calls for the most part are routed through NonStop servers, or are aware that help is dispatched because the services the NonStop server supports are always-on, always-connected?

The issue that arises is one of simple visibility! Will HP showcase the fundamentals of NonStop in a manner where its contribution will be easily recognized? Will NonStop technology and products become fashionable, even cool? If NonStop is to avoid falling into the void that opens as tectonic plates move and collide, then none of us should remain quiet any longer. Yes, we are now always-on and always-connected!

I will still be drawn to auto shops as I am to art galleries and to the docks where beautiful yachts are moored, but I am left wondering what my fellow latte-drinkers at the local coffee shop make of me. There I am flipping through screens, responding to emails, checking voice messages (wave files) and for all appearances, enjoying myself even as I pursue business opportunities. As I look around, however, I am not alone and the number of similarly connected patrons is on the increase.

As we scale to accommodate everyone and every business, however, as we appear to be doing, and as we all become users connected with World-as-a-Service, wouldn’t it be good to know the World is NonStop!

1 comment:

Richard Buckle said...

I have the good fortune of presenting material covered here in an upcoming webinar to be conducted by Attunity.

It will be held on May 10th ...

To register, check out the link:

http://www.attunity.com/campaign.aspx?campaignId=85