I was sitting down one day reflecting after a long day of work. I had a conversation with a co-worker that day about visions of past technology leaders, and how many of their predictions were wrong. One quote that stood out was one by a member of Microsoft where he said that technology would become so easy and user friendly that information technology professionals would no longer be needed. Thats a funny statement because if anything it has gone entirely in the opposite direction. Applications kept becoming more complicated, and more people were then needed to support it.
Recently, it has been interesting to see a backlash to that trend. There has been a resurgence of focus in the user interface and simplification of the user experience. This movement gained momentum with the rise of apps. These simple little programs have proven that a feature rich universe of bloated software isn’t needed to draw in customers, but instead one where simple feature slim software that does a few things very well are much more popular. You see the vast majority of people are not nerds. For many, bloated software is quite overwhelming and expensive. These high budget to produce software packages are so feature rich most people that use them don’t even know how to use all of the features in it. Who was the last person you knew that had a working knowledge of ALL the features in Photoshop. Most people just use it to make minor modifications to photos or to use the basic layers, and have to spend hundreds of dollars per update just to get more features that they will probably never use. Since the early days there have been some alternatives popup, but they never truly captures that feel of use Photoshop has.
So with this new look into useability it has made technology much friendlier to the end user making technology cool again. My biggest question is how long until we see the truly nerdy stuff that are used by corporations reach the consumer home. Network monitoring, system diagnostics, ERP systems, email, content management, and many many more. Right now there has been a shift to move things to the cloud, but the cloud is nothing new. Its just the newest buzz word for online content and storage. It used to be known as the ether… hence ethernet cables, but my prediction is one of a personal cloud. One that resides in a home data center. Not one sitting out in the cloud where privacy, security, and ethics are constantly assaulting those providers. Yes, the SaaS model is one that is convenient, but one that requires the user to place much trust in faceless corporations where your data could easily be compromised. It also makes your private data much more target-able. Case in point Dropbox giving user data to the government for trials, or the recent hacking of LinkedIn.
But for such a future to exist there must be much more simplification and appeal to the average person. The technologies have to be simple. They have to start simple. That is why cloud services are so popular. They are dead simple to the user. With steps as simple as make an account, and download the app.
So the big question at this point is what are the advantages of creating a unified personal cloud. Just imagine if all you ever had to do was give your account info to your phone and automatically all of your data was there. In a vendor agnostic environment. Where if a device of yours was ever compromised you could easily cut off its life line to your data. Imagine hooking up a small inexpensive device to your TV, and having all your content organized neatly. Where you can shop prices between different content providers for the same goods. Imagine a world where you can let people have access to certain portions of content while keeping them out of the rest.
Its not a matter of having an app for this or an app for that. Its a matter of bridging it all together into one unified vendor agnostic environment. Its about bringing it all into one system that can make sense of it all. Its about keeping it easy and simple, so the added effort of having a server in the home is a second thought.
So those are my thoughts and ramblings. Many people will disagree with me on this, but who could have dreamed of the way we work and live today back in the early 90’s. The honest truth is we won’t know until we find out.