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Musings on 5 Technologies as we look ahead to the New Year

by | Dec 20, 2010

As we all know, technology is advancing ever more quickly, making it difficult to not only keep abreast of the latest developments, but also best leverage them to positively impact our businesses, and our lives. Heading into 2011, let’s take a brief look at some of the ‘Hot Technologies’ that we’re all talking about:

Software as a Service (SaaS), or sometimes referred to as ‘software on demand’, is software deployed over the Internet as either a ‘pay-as-you-go’ or subscription service, or increasingly, as a free offering. SaaS offers the advantages of instant anytime/anywhere accessibility and scalability, along with reliability, and hassle-free use and support that eliminates the need to constantly update end-user PC software.

One of the first widely deployed examples of this technology was sales force automation. Today, Snowbound’s SaaS-like offering, our universal document and image viewer is called AJAX ‘Zero Footprint’ due to its pure HTML browser-based access – so no client-side software need be installed.

Cloud computing, in somewhat the same vein of Internet-based software via SaaS, is technology that enables users to share resources (applications, software, information, etc.) via computer and other devices on demand. This relatively new technological delivery and consumption model for IT services via the Internet enables users to pay only for those services they require via a Web browser, kind of like renting instead of buying software and other resources. This model also ensures users access to the latest and greatest applications without the initial capital expenditure.

Cloud computing offers other benefits as well; data stored securely on the internet can be retrieved from virtually anywhere – no need to worry about your personal computer breaking down or being lost. Access to a powerful network of virtual online servers and managed service providers ensures that your information will be there when you need it.

Web technology continues to advance in leaps and bounds, providing us with an ever increasing number of options for browsing, searching and socializing. I personally use two to three browsers on a daily basis as some are linked to specific shortcuts for a variety of programs. I like Goggle’s Chrome for easy communication access for email and IM, and use Firefox to run applications that take more horsepower such as our Web CMS, Marketo (email marketing) and analytics applications. (As of November 2010, Internet Explorer was still the browser the majority of business Web users used with almost 60% share, but I find I use it less and less with the advent of Chrome.)

For Web searching, Google is far away the leader, but others are still out there including Yahoo and Bing. The search engine market has many players that serve several niches, but for most users Google provides the lion’s share of Internet searches.

The effect of social media on our lives can’t be over stated, even those who don’t partake directly, (or minimally like me), have felt the impact this technology has on all our lives. On our Snowbound Web site alone, we have icons linking to Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook – the three big players in their respective areas – but there are dozens of others as well. According to Wikipedia, social media uses web-based technology to turn communication into interactive dialogues. From a business marketing perspective, I appreciate the fact that more people on the Web can find our offerings, personally though, I find that I really don’t need to know the minutia of people’s everyday lives that they frequently publish on Facebook.

Mobile technology continues to take the world by storm as more and more people go beyond basic cell phone functionality, opting for mobile ‘devices’ that allow Web capabilities, wireless connectivity and access to data from anyplace at any time. As previously mentioned, Snowbound’s AJAX viewer offers mobile document and image viewing, giving on-the-go business professionals secure access to the data they need to keep business moving, from a Web-browser interface. Mobile computing provides workers great flexibility in their work environments, enabling access from virtually anywhere, and pairs well with cloud computing environments.
Streaming entertainment, including movies, music, and television shows is rapidly replacing the past methods of distribution – DVDs and CDs. Our on-demand culture is enjoying instant access to the greatest variety of information and entertainment ever. I personally use the market-leading Netflix service for movies and television shows, although being a bit old school; I still have them delivered on DVD.

Netflix’s online service took over market share from past bricks-and-mortar video rental giant Blockbuster, which didn’t adapt to the changing technology and marketplace quickly enough, and who’s business is now hurting because of this. Today (December 7, 2010) a new player has entered the game as the Wall Street Journal has announced that Amazon is developing subscription streaming services to rival Netflix. In 2009, online sales and streaming of movies amounted to $300 million in the United States, and $340 million for TV shows, according to Adams Media Research.
So what does the sheer volume of all this technology on the information superhighway mean, and where is it headed? I don’t know exactly where the road leads – but I’m looking forward to the ride…