I’ve been on a gadget spree in the last few weeks, wrapping up two “home” projects as I write this. First, I’m redoing my home network, retiring the servers I had in my home and replacing them with a new Windows Home Server and a SheevaPlug, which will handle all the tasks that a virtualization server and an older Linux server were doing for me.
And my wife and I finally took the plunge with a new HD TV– which still surprises most that we waited this long. It includes new TiVo Premiere hardware, FIOS and replacement TiVos for the older units in the basement and office.
What’s been interesting about this set of projects is how much they overlapped. TiVos now talk (via an add-in from HP) to my Home Server, which talks to iTunes, which talks to my handhelds. The Home Server integrates with our multi-room music system Sonos units, and all the units access the same web services, such as Pandora, using our integrated accounts. When I was initially considering the pieces, I didn’t initially think it would integrate this much.
The number of devices in my home with IP addresses has become staggering — controllers, phones, computers, game devices. In addition to their power cable they all come with Ethernet.
This trend in integration is going on with our business solutions as well. Gone are the days of multiple logins, as our systems all talk to Active Directory. These same systems push data inward, using gadgets and reporting mechanisms to deliver data to our handhelds, email, and displays within the office. They can push data outward, tweeting or emailing as they are instructed to.
As we consider the integrations in the business world, the key is data. The accessibility and availability of data is what allows us to make business decisions, and it is the key to integration. Commonly known as business intelligence, pulling together information from various sources is a massive growth opportunity for SMB providers.
At the first HTG CEO Forum, CEO Arlin Sorensen asked the participants to build a new business, leaving behind any legacy baggage from existing business models. The consensus of the groups – Business Intelligence.
Data will live in an ever increasing set of locations. Cloud services, on premise services, in different devices – and each data set will need to be made available to those who make critical decisions.
Just as we see data convergence in the home, we see more and more data convergence in the business. SMB providers who learn this critical new skill set will be highly successful in an increasingly cloud world. Those who embrace it will be successful, and those who ignore it do so at their own peril.
Oh, and my iPad is on pre-order. I waited on the 3G unit. And it integrates.