Innovation, Technology, and Life in the Cloud

George Watt

We all need a life jacket when wading into the application economy

What a canoe trip taught me about the application economy and how preparation is key for those charting new waters

You may not think that canoeing and the application economy have anything in common. But a recent paddle taught me otherwise. I encountered a canoe containing five novice canoeists. There were four small children wearing personal flotation devices (also known as PFDs, life jackets or life savers), and one adult who was not.

Later it occurred to me how similar this novice canoe party was to new application economy participants. Even though they are inexperienced, they decide to participate in the application economy in order to drive new value to their customers and their businesses by creating engaging experiences. We want that, but we also want to ensure they are prepared.

Why simplicity often requires complexity

The dirty little secret behind many of today’s most compelling applications is that making the experience simpler and more engaging for the consumer often means more complexity behind the scenes. For GWPaddling-682x1024these modern, composite applications to deliver great customer experiences, every aspect of the application, including every component and piece of infrastructure, must be robust and resilient, and must perform well. In some cases even if one component of a modern, composite application is compromised, the entire experience (or application) may be in jeopardy.

Similarly, the PFD-free adult paddler I mentioned earlier compromised the safety of the entire party. If the canoe tipped, or the adult leaned over or shifted position and fell out (I have seen both happen) the wind and currents were strong enough that the small children would not likely have been able to control the canoe – or themselves if they also fell out. In addition, the wind and current were directed toward a fairly large lake where the winds were even stronger.

Even if the adult was not winded or injured and drowning, he might have had to swim towards the shore to save himself; leaving the children to fend for themselves.

As with our personal safety, when we think about application performance, resilience, robustness, and security we must think about every component of our application architecture – wherever it resides, and regardless of whether we built it ourselves or purchased it. Our (ex?) customers won’t care why we gave them a bad experience.

Equip your team with the right skills

It does not end there. As suggested in a Vanson Bourne global study we also need to ensure our teams have the skills they need to create robust modern applications. This may mean refresher training, acquiring new skills, and/or hiring to acquire expertise rapidly.

It won’t always be burdensome. With five minutes of training, our adult paddler may not have been the weak link in their ‘leisure architecture’. In even just one hour, he could have been fairly efficient. But it requires intent and investment. Both are necessary and worthwhile.

Be prepared to invest in good application architecture and training. Then go ahead and rock your apps.

George is co-author of “The Innovative CIO.”

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This site contains articles regarding entrepreneurship, innovation, and the practical aspects of deploying, providing, managing, and using cloud computing, and other technologies. I also share my thoughts and experiences related to consumer driven IT, social media, management issues, and about what some refer to as “soft skills”.

All works copyright 2009 – 2019 George Watt – All rights reserved.

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