I was having a discussion with a colleague of mine about the significance of Apple’s Siri. This is the voice activated digital assistant application that is now part of the iPhone 4S. Basically you make verbal requests of your phone and it, in turn uses different Internet based services to retrieve that data for you. So for instance you could ask “when did Obama become president”. Your iPhone might tell you that “Obama was elected president November 4th, 2008. But he was sworn in on January 20th, 2009”.
Many are speculating that this application could represent the downfall of Google. Siri will definitely use Google to search the web. The challenge is in what’s missing from the above simple example. The user no longer has any relationship to the Google paid links. The center and bulk of all revenue generation for Google is being cut out of this new UI experience. For all those other free applications Google provides like Google Apps and YouTube, we may see a new cost model coming if Siri really takes off.
Now, I won’t speculate on the future of Google, but this technology has the potential to profoundly disrupt. Recently, mobile device sales have outpaced PCs. This trend is significant and major technology companies are responding accordingly. Couple that footprint with the UI experience of an actually functioning voice driven interface, and you have the making of something pretty significant.
With in-memory technology we are seeing the potential end of data warehousing. By itself, in-memory technology is a disruptive advancement, but what about in combination with Siri? Now, I know SAP has made great investments in mobility applications especially with the Sybase acquisition. They have created an environment where applications can be development and rolled out to any mobile device. This reduces the time of development and makes the user experience consistent thanks to HTML5 standardization of the UI. But wait a minute; aren’t we witnessing a complete disruption of what a mobile interface experience will look like?
Now, I’m not proposing that Sybase was an unwise decision or that people won’t want mobile applications on device. But who wants to touch a bunch of radio buttons or type, when all I want to know is what last year sales of our super widget were in North America.
For those who have experience with SAP’s ByDesign, we have already witnessed probably five different UI experiences in its young life. So don’t stop now. Soon ByD will be based on HANA technology as are SAP’s other OnDemand platforms. My hope is for development to begin sprinting toward Siri enabled mobility. The combination, I think will bring business data to a new place of relevance, both in analytics and application use.
Real cloud computing in my view is about creating agile enterprises, both technically and culturally. Whether we are looking at rapid deployment of systems or applications, accelerated application development platforms, quick integration, in-memory data and real-time analytics, or mobile access to data from any location, we are pursuing an in the moment relationship to relevant information. So the next time, I use a mobile device to access my business data, I hope I can just talk it out.