In his piece on Office Apps on Demand, Ephraim Shwartz is right on Denmark again on a crucial point. No, not whether Google and Sun will bring Web based interface to Office apps – clearly doable, and likely to really shake up the Business IT space if done … and not necessarily by Google and Sun first.
No – the important point, the golden line is …
“A lot of people think they want applications, but what they really want is accessibility. “
Yes they are still holding Bill and half a dozen industry gurus who promised variations of “Information at Your Fingertips” to the essence of that promise – 6As Delivery of Information.
6As Delivery of Information
One more time here is what 6As Delivery of Information means:
1)Immediate Access to information for 2)Anyone Authorized 3)Anytime, 4)Anywhere on 5)Any device in 6)Any format required.
Now that is Accessibility – that is Information at your Fingertips.
So now lets take a quick look at how some major players measure up in delivering this capability:
Adobe with Acrobat and Flash – remarkably well positioned 1, 2 and 3 okay, getting better on 4 and 5, best on 6.
BEA with Liquid and Plumtree – also strongly positioned 1 and 2 okay, 3, 4, weak on 5 and 6.
IBM with Lotus and Websphere – strong originally 1 very well, 2 okay, 3 and 4 strong, much weaker on 5 and 6.
Microsoft with Windows and apps – mixed with 1 okay, 2 very mixed, 3, 4 poor interoperability, weak but improving on 5 and 6.
Oracle with database and appserver – solid with 1 very strong, 2 improving, very good on 3 and 4, weak on 5 and 6.
Sun with Java and J2EE – also solid foundation 1 strong, 2 improving, good on 3 and 4, improving on 5, okay on 6.
So from this run down the weakness in delivering Information at Your Fingertips resides mostly in 3 issues. Security, which for a long time depended on goodwill and benign ignorance of the backroom ops details, is now being challenged by hackers who are very system savvy and willing to do an Oceans 11 on any unsuspecting and vulnerable corporate or government agency – of which there seems to be no shortage. The second most glaring weakness is the ability to deliver on any device and in any format required. Here some non-standard players like Adobe and Sun with their nicely positioned CPVM – Cross Platform Virtual Machines may have the current inside track.
Finally Microsoft with its dominant position on the desktop and slowly but surely improving position on servers should apparently be the dominant supplier of Information at Your Fingertips. After all Bill, if he did not coin the phrase, certainly popularized it. But just as in the case of the Internet where Redmond felt with Win95 it could create a rival to the Web in MSN equal to the real thing – Microsoft has been trying to coerce IT and end users into their 1 Microsoft Way vision of Information at Your Fingertips. Guess what – it is desktop and Windows based with limited “everything from Microsoft runs best only in or on the latest version of Windows” functionality. Tough luck Win 2000, ME, 98SE, 98 NT/4 etc, etc users. All other platforms get used to very limited interoperability and even that on Redmonds terms. In short, this is still not a winning formula for success in 6As computing, Information at Your Fingertips. Somehow Redmond has not gotten Ephraims message – open accessibility is the key.