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No borders, no boundaries1

In 1966, long before the age of personal computers and mobile phones, Simon and Garfunkel recorded their third studio album Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme.  On the third track, they opened the song Cloudy with the lyrics:

My thoughts are scattered and they're cloudy
They have no borders, no boundaries

With the growing phenomenon of cloud computing entering its 12th year2, and the continued evolution of Retail Without Boundaries, what does the future hold for this technology and what should retailers be doing about it?

Imagine

To do so, let’s imagine…

…a time, in the not too distant future, where your personal computer will be your mobile phone (or vice versa).  You will not have any applications installed on your device, or data or files – instead you just tap into business processes, databases and folders running remotely on servers in the cloud, collaborating with other business processes, users, avatars and automatons as needed.

No computer viruses to deal with. No data to back up.  No upgrades or patches to install.  No crashes or need to reboot.  No lengthy implementations.  No data centers to maintain.

Always on, a single charge runs for days since the machine has almost no computing power.  In fact you logon (biometrically) with any machine.  But if you lose your personal machine, you just get another and deactivate your old one.

On Device, On Demand, On Premise

So, how can we take advantage of this now?

As SAP has outlined in its product strategy, the best way to capitalize on the advantages of emerging technologies like mobility and cloud computing, while at the same time leveraging your investment in your current technology platform, lies in pursuing a three thronged approached which is neatly summed up as On Device, On Demand On Premise.

This has the potential to give retailers a tremendous amount of flexibility in implementing these technologies at their own pace, and to later expand their use as required in response to business challenges and opportunities.  In taking an evolutionary approach retailers will also lower their risk in adopting innovation without disruption.

Above us only sky3

A closing thought…

Adam Selipsky, a vice-president of product management and developer relations at Amazon, says the company learned how to run data centers inexpensively and at a large scale as a result of building its retail business.  Many companies will pare back their data center operations in the next decade or two, turning the computing business into one of higher volumes and lower profit margins—a scenario where Amazon excels.  According to Selipsky "We're four years into a trend that's probably decades long."  Already, Amazon Web Services consumes more computing power than the company's retail business.

As we end one year and start a new one, we’ll leave the last word to John Lennon:

You may say that I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one

Notes
  1. Lyrics from the song Cloudy by Simon and Garfunkel, 1966.
  2. Salesforce.com was founded in 1999.
  3. Lyrics from the song Imagine by John Lennon, 1971.