After one of many dinners at our summer house in the archipelago of Stockholm this summer I sat and waited for the sun to set. The vacation had just started and my mind still had to resolve some of the challenges at work.
I had stated that one of my key goals for the second half of 2010 was to try to describe how to form an ecosystem around public sector information in Sweden.
What key aspects have to be addressed in order to have an ecosystem that is growing, evolving and becoming a platform for innovation? I had written down
- Simplicity in publishing and consuming data
- Broad approachability and high availability
- Reusability in the way that services and controls are developed
These three aspects (simplicity, approachability and reusability) are rather well known success factors for any idea. But in order to have a growing ecosystem for information and services you also need to solve the “billing problem”, i.e. the end user pay 10 USD to use a mashup that is using 1 external control and 2 service providers that will bill the mashup-owner totally 5 USD (for example 2+2+1 USD). How is this solved in a simple and an effective way within the ecosystem?
Suddenly I realized that I had all the stuff that I need at my fingertips, accessible from my computer, but running in the cloud. I made a simple architectural sketch, took the picture above and went to bed. The day was ending, but soon the sun should rise again – It became the Dawn of a New Day.
The sketch included three major building blocks; Azure, CodePlex and “Codename Dallas”. “Dallas” was not only the solution for the “billing problem” but also the solution to the problem of exposing data with a standardized API (Open Data Format).
During the summer we became a part of the CTP-release for DataMarket aka “Codename Dallas”. We established the website www.offentligdata.se using the building blocks in the Azure platform, such as SQL Azure, and integrated or solution with the Dallas platform. A number of government data were published on the platform.
A first step had been taken towards establish an infrastructure for a world where content is streamed, cached and synchronized with a world of cloud-based continuous services. Still there was a piece that was missing. The data that should flow through the ecosystem was locked in the different government systems. During the initial discussions with information owners it were clear that the hardest part to resolve is to address non-technical concerns that the data keeper has, i.e.
- How can I be sure that our data has the right quality
- How can I illustrate the data that my service expose
- Where in the ecosystem is my data used
During this weekend (at the 24h innovation camp eHealth 2010) we took the last step by introducing building blocks that will help the information keeper to address the above issues. This was done by using the strength of PowerPivot in Excel, Excel Services and SharePoint-technology combined with the DataMarket-platform.
Maybe the most amazing thing is that we have taken this from a sketch to a implemented solution in a few months without ever discussing hardware/software, development of API:s or handling the fact that some of our consuming applications maybe want our services to be a part of a 7*24 solution.
The only assumption we have made is that we are moving towards a world of continuous services where data is consumed by connected devices.
There were several other ideas that were implemented during the 24h innovation camp. The three most interesting notations I did during the presentations at the final day were, firstly, that almost all that had been developed was based on cloud-based services (or the assumption that it existed or could be developed). Secondly, I noted the fact that the applications should be non-device specific and none of the contributions was built assuming that the PC existed, none! Slowly we are taken steps towards a post-PC world.
Thirdly, the name of the game has changed. The applications were centered on the individuals own social & organizational networks. The way that we will interact and consume is changing in the same speed as we realize the potential of a new device. This week Facebook launched a new message service, they claim that this is not a new Gmail, why should it? The users need something new that is based on their social network, as I stated: The name of the game has changed!
The coming decade will belong to the people and the organizations with innovation as one of their key capabilities. When I wrote the paper “Cloud Computing – The impact on consulting” for about 1,5 years I pointed out one way to transform a traditional consulting company to a leader in the new world as illustrated in the figure below.
We are now standing in the middle of the big shift. Many opportunities, to take the position as the leader, will come as the number of app-capable devices increases in a speed that is hard to imagine. Those who can envision the key aspects that are needed for a brighter future will earn the opportunity to lead as the sun is rising and the dawn transforms into day!
I will end this blog post with a quote from a post that inspires me:
“Let there be no doubt that the big shifts occurring over the next five years ensure that this will absolutely be a time of great opportunity for those who put past technologies & successes into perspective, and envision all the transformational value that can be offered moving forward to individuals, businesses, governments and society. It’s the dawn of a new day – the sun having now arisen on a world of continuous services and connected devices.” – Ray Ozzie.