“When the wind of change blows, some build walls, others build windmills.”
I had really hoped that they saved the best for last, the GET DIGITAL conference. Well, it was a very “cloudy” afternoon, April 16th 2013. My afternoon included presenting the research posters we had created as part of another DICE project prior to the actual conference and then, as part of the second National Conference on Cloud Computing and Commerce (NC4) we heard four speeches on cloud computing.
After Dr. Theo Lynn’s opening remarks, the first speaker entered the stage. The first of four speakers for us, but a lot more presentations were held as part of the National Conference on Cloud Computing and Commerce.
Part 1: “Reshaping the Future of Industry and Society using Open Innovation 2.0” by Professor Martin Curley (vice president at Intel Corporation, director of Intel Labs Europe and co-director of the Innovation Value Institute)
The question that I asked myself when I first saw that long title was “What on earth is open innovation 2.0?” There is Closed Innovation, Open Innovation and Innovation Networks, which could also be described as Open Innovation 2.0. “Innovation doesn’t just change our lives; it’s how we make a living” (Barack Obama). Clearly, every business needs to be innovative in order to stay competitive, either developing their new products in-house, or using open innovation and develop products outside the company (open innovation). This process can even go further: Involving industry, academia, government and citizens is how we can raise the level of innovation. Here’s a really interesting TED talk by Charles Leadbeater on Open Innovation Charles Leadbeater: The era of open innovation
Although, that was the core of his speech (at least to me) it is impossible to stop here, as I haven’t even mentioned cloud computing. But to be honest, his speech focused on innovation, not on cloud computing. He talked about imagining and designing the future. What we imagine today, will be reality sooner than we think.
An interesting fact: if Moore’s law that predicts the progress in technology also applied to changes in the airline industry for the last 100 years, we could travel from Dublin to New York within just ½ second! Impossible? Maybe. But the point I’m trying to make is that technology transformed industries which were built up in centuries within a decade. And cloud computing is still at its beginning. Curley’s conclusion to this change is to focus on the three key elements of innovation: sustainability, mass-collaboration and shared value.
Part 2: “The Economic Opportunity in Cloud Computing for Ireland” by Dr. Constantin Gurdgiev (Head of Research for St. Columbanus AG and Adjunct Lecturer in Finance with Trinity College)
The very beginning is a good place to start, and the first thing I learned is that cloud computing is not an economy, but a platform for perfectly disembodied services. We are now at the beginning of the cloud, and countries can compete in two different areas: the physical side of cloud computing or cloud-based services. Ireland has not a chance to compete on the physical level, only cloud-based services are possible, but there is a lot of work to do. Gurdgiev presented 10 steps and 2 massive reforms to make it possible.
Part 3: “Evangelising the Future” by Clare Dillon (Developer and Platform Group Lead, Microsoft Ireland)
We all know that the Cloud has many problems to solve, but there are many people working on it as well. Clare Dillon even dared to say that one day it’ll just be there, like electricity. That “one day” was what Clare told us about. First she showed us this video “A vision of the future” which was made in 2011. It shows the big trends in computing: multi device, social, connected and natural. Today we all have a lot of devices, computers, tablets, mobile phones, kindles…this part of the video seems to be reality already. Computing is everywhere. And these devices are connected, powered and enabled by the cloud! Last but not least the clip shows natural interaction, which Kinect already represents today.
Speaking of Kinect: this is a great example of how the world changed the product created beyond what Microsoft could even imagine: designed for games it is now even used to monitor if elderly people do exercises the right way to stay fit and helps surgeons operating in a sterile environment.
“The best way to predict the future is to invent it” – Alan Key
Fergus Gloster, a passionate believer in the cloud mainly confused me. First of all he said that our current sales and marketing model is at best obsolete, at worst it’s totally dysfunctional. Marketing now has a greater role than ever. The buyer’s decision is mostly already made when getting in touch with the sales person. But then he went on talking about how to run a cloud business, which just expected too much background knowledge for me to follow what he was trying to tell us. In his defence, he really tried to make it short as well, not to bore us too much, but I didn’t understand the numbers he was telling us in conjunction with the SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) Revenue Model, Pipeline Coverage per AE or Pipeline Inventory. Nonetheless, I understood that there is more to marketing, challenges and potential are waiting for us and not everything is just digital and social.
One of the best things about the conference was its duration: two hours were exactly enough to learn about cloud computing and commerce and not too long to lose my attention. And after all these hours, only one more thing: