A concept so familiar to most people, but simultaneously not available in the market today. At this point I expect every Apple fan boy and every Androidiac to stand up and start throwing claims such as “iCloud integrates my Apple devices together wonderfully”, or “With Google I can take my information with me everywhere”… and you know what? You are right! You are absolutely, 100% right; despite the occasional glitches in both of those platforms, you are right nonetheless.
Today the two most compelling platforms are iCloud and Google services. You can have your contacts, calendar events, reminders, as well as third-party data available on all your devices, granted that you know how to set it up properly. Personally, I have Apple products but I am already sold to Google as far as services are concerned. Therefore, I have my Apple devices connected to my Google services, along with having iCloud cover some minor features that still don’t exist on the Google platform.
This is all called synchronization, not integration! For everyone one of you out there, your devices are all synchronized with one another. Whether it is through some form of push technology, or polling service, those are all details that don’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. I hate to break it to you, but all you have is synchronization, and possibly some minor integration, at best (see Google Now). Now if you know me personally, or if we’ve ever had a tech-infested conversation, then you probably heard these words come out of my mouth: “if you want to have a successful product/service, then you have to make it integrate seamlessly into people’s lives”. When the “cost” (not necessarily monetary, but more so by effort) of adopting a new technology, is low, then people adopt it a lot faster, they internalize it, and they grow dependent on it. This was a key factor in the success of the iPhone, when it first hit the market; it was so simple to pick up and start using, and the learning curve was so shallow, that it spread like wildfire. Everything about interacting with iOS, from a user experience point of view, was so intuitive that we began to see YouTube videos of newborns playing around on an iPad. Why did this happen? Because by adopting this product, people could easily integrate it into their lives. It wasn’t an added burden to learn how to use this new device, especially considering what was available in the market at the time.
Where do we go now?
As I mentioned earlier, today we have these huge massive infrastructures of ecosystems set up by the tech tyrants. Google and Apple definitely have a lead in this arena, but this is not enough. Imagine a scenario where you have terabytes and petabytes worth of data that was collected from sensors from a certain system, but it’s all just sitting there, and you aren’t really doing anything about it. It’s like running a science experiment, performing the data collection, but never getting around to the data analysis part (the part that really matters). You may have recently heard of this new up and coming trend of “Big Data”… that is exactly what it is, big, huge, enormous amounts of data. Now, what do we do with this data?
The closest a company has come to start implementing such a thing is Google, with their new Google Now product. It really is a very fancy new application that begins to integrate your data… you know, the data that you’re so happy synchronizing in their cloud infrastructure. It’s all about taking all your data to the next level. Remember those sci-fi stories of “the future”, where your fridge sends you a message if you’re low on milk, or you’re on an important call, but you also have to leave the office so you don’t miss another meeting across town, so your phones just transfer your call automatically. Better yet, when you’re at the airport, and your phone automagically brings up a view of your e-ticket so you show it to the check-in counter. Or my all-time favorite, when you get into your car, and it already knows where you’re heading because of an event stored in your calendar, so then it just drives off with you, without you having to do a single thing.
This is the concept of seamless integration; to integrate people’s lives with the elements that surround them, where the world is always catered to your needs. Granted I’ve gone off on a bit of a 100-year stretch (or maybe less), it is most important to start noticing these trends and these visions today, so that companies can begin to build towards them.
And you know what the greatest part is? Some companies already have begun to see this, and have already begun to build it… more details coming in my next post.