When four big computing trends come together, the end result can be truly transformational. Cloud services, data analytics, mobile computing and social networking (CAMS) have each established impressive followings in their own right. Now, according to pundits, consultants and vendors, the combination of all of them is the ‘Fifth Wave’ of computing, following mainframes, minicomputers, PC networks and the Internet, in that order. You may also have met CAMS in the reverse order as SMAC with the slickly named SMAC stack to describe how the pieces fit together.
- Cloud technology connects the other three technologies. It brings organizations analytic, mobile and social capabilities either as cloud services or as applications that organizations can run for themselves on servers in the cloud with the advantages of the cloud’s flexibility, scalability, robustness and cost-efficiency.
- Analytics let businesses make sense of the data they generate or collect to gain insights and draw useful conclusions. When Big Data is involved, cloud resources can provide the pay as you go solution that enterprises can afford, rather than trying to beef up their own IT resources by buying in new servers, storage and networking.
- Mobile computing links end-users with information, and with smarter organizations that have extended their operations to the mobile world. Mobile also links users between themselves, multiplying the flows of information anywhere, any time.
- Social networking is for sharing. Consumers use it to communicate and express their opinions about products and services, while professionals also use it to collaborate and innovate. Combined with mobile computing, it can also become a rich new source of data that can help organizations better understand the needs and preferences of their markets or their constituents.
Making CAMS Work in Real Life
So now that the pieces are available, what can you do with them? Here is one example. A chain of shops holds a sales promotion and makes ‘tweetable’ messages available to customers via its website and emailing. The sales promotion achieves particular success in one of the shops and in a virtuous spiral upwards continues to succeed as shoppers use Twitter or other social networks to tell friends about the deal to be had. Sales data from all the shops is gathered over the Internet and analyzed in the cloud. The analytics show the mushrooming sales in the shop concerned and prompt the chain to route inventory to that shop to meet the new forecasts in demand.
CAMS for Public Service Organizations
Similarly, other industries and sectors can use a CAMS combination to improve operations. In healthcare, vendors are leveraging the cloud to offer significant advantages in increased productivity and decreased costs to healthcare providers. Up till now, medical image archive systems have been large, proprietary and expensive pieces of equipment with limited possibilities for communicating patient scans between hospitals, to consulting physicians or the patient’s own doctor. Secure cloud solutions now exist to make such scans are available instantly from the imaging device rather than the archive system to doctors using mobile computing devices. Analytics help detect patterns of ailments or suggest appropriate courses of action. Private social networking applications then let medical professionals confer on specific cases and on ways in which to improve their service further.
Where to Next?
The only limits to CAMS (or SMAC) are the imagination of organizations in conceiving ever more advanced applications. While technology will continue to change and progress, the tools that already exist provide staggering potential to boost both quality of service and competitiveness, as appropriate.