The Cloud, the iPhone and the Old Man

August 19, 2010   //   Cloud, , , , , ,

Recently I found myself scrounging under my bed looking for the dog’s chew toy. To this day I’m shocked I have a dog, let alone a chew toy. But there I was sucking in my gut so I could squeeze my hand one inch further, my fingers desperately grasping for a saliva-coated, rubber, squeaky mouse. At my feet the dog sat barking with a pinch of attitude.

“What’s up, man,” the dog barked. “Faster, faster….”

The experience left me coming to the conclusion that very little good comes from squeaky toys. Looking under my bed however did have a surprising outcome. As it turns out, deep in the underbelly of my bed, just past the squeaky mouse lay something very entertaining: a shoe box filled with old high school pictures. Hilarious, old high school pictures that reminded me of great times but also served as a stark reminder that, well, damn I’m old.

A little later I found myself speaking to my wife regarding our middle-age lives.

“Please, you’re not middle aged,” she said, shuffling around the kitchen between the dishwasher and the cabinet. “I am not married to a middle-aged man.”

“I think you are,” I said. “I can prove it”

My wife ignored me and continued to attack the kitchen work in the kind of way that bordered on obsession.

“I have some gray hair, look at this one,” I said pulling up a silver strand of hair near my ear. “There’s actually a few of these. I think I like them.”

“Means nothing. Lots of people go gray prematurely,” she said. “And I can barely see yours, it’s embarrassing.”

“My back is always hurting and I take Advil like its candy,” I said. Then I dropped the bomb.

“I like saving money, I want my house to be clean, sleep is my favorite past-time and I generally find myself thinking before acting on anything.”

“Whatever,” she said, which meant I won the argument.

It’s official. I’m old.

The truth is, having “been around the block” has its benefits, particularly when it comes to business. Experience has taught me a lot about what works and perhaps more importantly what doesn’t work. Today, I realize that when I get excited about a technology it’s because I see intrinsic value in what it does and that I’m not simply responding to the industry hype machine. In the end, I have to see something that helps business perform cheaper, faster, better.

I’m excited about three technologies: smartphones, Silverlight and the cloud.

Ok, first off, when I talk about smartphones, I’m talking about the iPhone or the Droid or hopefully, if the stars align, Windows Mobile 7. Of course, what has me excited about the smartphone space is what’s happening around applications. I’m not talking about consumer applications. I’m talking about the smartphone applications that are changing how business gets done.

It’s a relatively new arena for SWC but recently we have been forging hard into these engagements and the client meetings have been fascinating. Each discussion has brought to light fantastic, creative and innovative ways to use these devices that have significant impact on how that respective business makes money.

And then there’s Silverlight, a newer Microsoft development platform for interactive web, desktop and mobile applications. In my opinion, it’s one of the nicer surprises coming out of Redmond and seems to be catching fire in the development community. But, from a business perspective, the real Silverlight story is Silverlight Pivot. In this case, a demo speaks a thousand words (so click anywhere it says “Pivot” or “demo” in this post). At a high level, think of Pivot as a highly compelling way to view and analyze data. I have found it nearly impossible to not get a profound reaction every time I show someone Pivot. Usually, the reaction includes an expletive followed immediately with the words “You know, with something like this we could…”

Finally there is the cloud. Huge topic! I won’t even begin to try and go into details but I want to say this. For the right folks (because the cloud isn’t for everyone), this model can have massive economic benefits. In some circumstances the cloud should free up innovation and allow business to chase opportunities that they would have once thought impossible. I guess in short I want to say that almost every technology conversation today should begin by asking, “Does the cloud make sense here?”

I often find myself telling others how I love the technology industry because it’s always changing and constantly challenges us to find the lightning in the bottle. Every once in a while a few technologies come along that are striking reminders of this sentiment. It’s always fun when this happens and I’m excited about the days, weeks and months to come.

Even if I am old.