Some more rambling thoughts…..

1. PaaS – Platform as a Service. Now, I have become very interested (some may say obsessed) with the idea of the “cloud”. Its so elegant yet so simple. Store everything in the cloud i.e. online. I do this already with gmail, ical, google docs, wikis, Sales Force, book marks.

Its the idea that I don’t need to be at “my computer” to access all my information. I don’t need to carry around a USB stick, I just sent it to my gmail account. I can access my bookmarks via a bookmarking service like Delicious. I can access these bookmarks from any computer in any location. It is the same with google docs – any document that I make on google docs is available online. Google & delicious has become my computer, hence its so attractive.

This has spawned the idea of software as a service (SaaS) – you dont need to install any software on your computer. You just access it online. It’s the whole idea of Mailout, an application I support. You can access this email platform online, upload your database, push out emails from any computer. I use sales force for the same reason – all my business contacts, leads, virtually an entire CRM system is online in the cloud. Accessible when I want.

Now platform as a service I just came across today. I signed up to Force.com, an extension of salesforce.com. Its basically a platform from which I can build apps for my business. I can utilise existing apps, customise existing ones, or just create new ones. Its hard to describe but you can virtually create anything and its 5 times faster building an app on this platform than without one.

I love this idea. It’s like igoogle or even wordpress. The widgets are out there, I just plug them in or I can create them. PaaS and SaaS is just a smart business move. I save on the infrastructure, installation, running and customer service costs. The biggest impediments to these services are:

– Investment into existing infrastructure: If I have already spent several million dollars on servers and software, do i have an incentive to switch to the cloud? These are sunk costs which cannot be recovered.

– Security concerns: CIO’s and management are understandly terrified of having their information in the cloud. it presents a new security risk. Information could be more readily breached by external parties, because it is not restricted to people phyically present in the building.

– Uptime: its hard to put a guarantee on uptime (i.e the amount of time that the service is running and not down).

2. Conversations eventually move to email – where the heck is Wave?

Recently, a friend of mine posted a status update on facebook. Then I responded to her status update. However, I wanted to talk to her privately so I direct messaged her on facebook and we started talking using that format. She then emailed my gmail account. However, since I was at work I wanted to use my work email – it just made it easier to consolidate the conversation in one place and keep it going

This happened with other peopel as well. We start talking over facebook email or twitter direct message, but if we want to maintain the conversation, it has to go to email. It is just more convenient, i can write longer message and I can search and go back. I don’t always want to have public convo’s or perhaps I want to send an attachment.

What I find interesting is that if someone wants to talk to me, the conversation will eventually move to email.

That is why I cannot wait for Google Wave to arrive. Something that allows for me to converge my social networks and email together.

You can also see that Facebook’s strategy is starting to move away from a gated community. Facebook connect is great little login tool for other websites. You don’t need to sign up to another website, you just use your existing login details. But this is a post for another time.

3. Mobile Banking – I can’t wait for this to become mainstream. On Monday, I had dinner with a few people and I paid for someone as they didn’t have enough cash on them. The next day they transferred the money to my bank account. Another situation occured, where I sold a friend an entertainment book but they didn’t have enough money so they transferred the money later that day.

What would have been awesome is some kind of payment system for banking to occur on the spot. This is where mobile banking can come in. If we are at the dinner table and someone owes you money, they could transfer the money over their mobiles. Now mobile banking does exists via apps on iphone or simply logging in to your bank account on your internet enabled phone. However, it is not seen as secure nor is it widely adopted. Its actually been available for around 2 years, but hardly anyone uses it  – only early adopters.

This is better than smart cards with stored value. Having a phone which can transfer money would enable micropayments to be made. Pay your friend $20 for movie ticket, or $5 for buying you a beer, or split the bill and pay them $40 for a meal. A daugher ask her father for $100 to go shopping. Instead of reaching into his wallet for cash he can zap her the money via his mobile.

Studies show that if you lose your wallet, on average it takes around 2 hours for you to realise. If you lose your phone it takes 20mins for you to realise it is lost. And for those that say its not safe to do phone banking – people said the same thing when credit cards and ATM’s were introduced. It just needs wider acceptance and adoption – and this will occur over time. We are living in a cashless society and this will eventually become the norm.

4. Digital Radio is here but not widely adopted

I spoke to Daniel about this a few months ago and it has piqued my interest again as a contact of mine has started selling digital radios. It will be like digital TV. The signal will be clearer than analogue. Ability to go back and replay the broadcast. Essentially you need, a digital radio to be able to get the signal. You can also listen to radio stations overseas. Also, digital radio will have information that is broadcast with the sound – words, pictures, links, etc… Its a more interactive version of radio.

The radio sets aren’t cheap – they retail for about $280+ and none of them look particularly visually appealing. At the moment, its more for early adopters. This stuff is standard in Europe though.

It actually only went live in May 2009, so watch this space.

5. The possible uses of social media on B2B relationships: This is somethign I will explore in another post. TBC.

I’m out like software on your computer,

Matt

A quick note on location based information

I never seem to have time these days to update my blog. Five years ago, I used to update it every few days, but now its once every few weeks. Here are some thoughts I’ve been meaning to put down:

Location based information is the future.

Information by itself can be useful. But information in context is so much more powerful. Having information readily available, when you need it and tailored for where you are located significantly increases its relevance.

neighbour-hood-watch

A device that is powering location based information is the availability of the internet on mobile handsets. I recently discovered how useful this was when using some new apps on my android phone. A little light bulb went off in my head.

Here are two examples.

1. Quickpedia: Essentially this is a wikipedia client for my phone. It allows me to quickly look up information. One really useful section or tab in the app, allows me to see information about the area I am in. It uses my GPS location and grabs wikipedia information about the landmarks near me and the general surrounding area. That is incredibly fun and useful.

2. Places directory: This is an app made by googlers in their 20% time. based on my GPS location, it tells me about the following that is nearby – bars, restaurants, ATM’s, hotels, cafes, etc… It also gives me the reviews and ratings of these places, approximate distance from where I am and a one touch button to call the place! Amazing stuff. It pulls in all the information from google maps.

Location based social networks

I believe that having social networks down to the granular levels of location e.g. neighbours talking to each other will be the next step. It is a logical extension of what happens in the real world. Though you may not really talk to your neighbour in real life, you may be more willing to converse with a neighbour who might still be viewed as a stranger online.

Whilst its great to talk to people on twitter, facebook, et al from Sydney, Melb, USA etc…I would have also have a use for information about my neighbourhood from locals about where to buy the best coffee, what people think about the drycleaner, walking in certain streets may be dangerous, etc…

Whilst large online communities are popular, we’re seeing a move to smaller microcosms of activity like Ning. People forming their own social networks based on common interests. Locality will be one of these interest groups. For example, an online community for Bondi residents, North Shore, Paramatta, Geelong, etc…

I’m out like your local neighbourhood watch,

Matt