Talking SMAC: Redefining World of Business

iPad and iPhone 5Have you heard the acronym SMAC? SMAC stands for Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud, the four parts of what many describe as a new “digital industrial revolution.”

The term has become a buzzword among many tech and business leaders in the past few years. “The notion of combining social, mobile, analytics and cloud into one architectural pipe is gaining traction,” reads the headline from Computerworld.

“It’s like an industrial revolution of sorts, where you’re achieving the digital critical mass of some key foundational elements,” Ed Anderson, research vice president at Gartner, told the magazine. “We have this platform in cloud services that presents us with unlimited capacity of computational resources. With mobile we have this unprecedented ability to put connectivity into the hands of individuals and devices. Analytics gives us specific insights we never had before, and social media makes it all personal.”

The Nexus of Forces

Gartner continually refers to this convergence of mobile, social, cloud and information as the Nexus of Forces. The Nexus of Forces has become the platform for digital business. As we’ve recently written, Gartner defines digital business as the creation of new business designs by blurring the digital and physical worlds. Amazon, for example, was not a digital business when it started selling books online. That “business moment” came with the Kindle, which enabled books to be delivered digitally, without the physical supply chain. The physical book became a virtual product.

What do the four components of SMAC share in common? The democratization of technology that empowers the end-user. As the workforce, especially digital natives, increasingly use their personal devices in their jobs, there is a growing expectation that work applications will be portable and browser-agnostic. Users want to access what they want in real time, wherever they are and on whatever device.

Gigaom Research, in a recent white paper underwritten by Izenda, stressed the importance of business-intelligence tools being embedded in the application-users’ work, pointing out that digital natives and a more tech-savvy workforce now expect that level of convenience and access.

(Izenda enables software providers to offer end-users the ability to explore and analyze data in real time within the security and access-rights framework of the organization. Reports, dashboards and visualizations can be created without waiting for IT or a data scientist to prepare them.)

Removing Barriers to Entry

Removing barriers to entry does not simply mean technological changes. The move toward SMAC has already affected how the business world operates, both externally with customers and internally. In an application economy, services are increasingly delivered through software (the software IS the business.) More and more businesses are driven by a connected, mobile, application-based world where customers are far more likely to experience your brand through a software application than a live person.

Organizations are well on the way to becoming more data-driven and collaborative in decision-making. Gartner last week confirmed the movement toward self-service BI tools, projecting the majority of business users will be using such tools by 2017.

Computerworld’s article focused on companies embracing the move to SMAC technologies, including Atlanta-based SunTrust Bank. “It is clear to me that the next generation of IT, both in the banking industry and beyond, will revolve around SMAC,” Anil Cheriyan, CIO at SunTrust, told the magazine.

Major Role in Next Few Years

In the ever-changing world of IT, the concept of the SMAC stack continues to evolve. According to ZDNet: “SMAC will continue to play a major role in the next few years, and it will be complemented by Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and the greater trend of consumerization in driving what products IT will invest in. The near future of IT will ultimately be driven by connectivity — not just connectivity of devices and networks, but the connectivity of employees to one another.”

The latest evidence of SMAC’s importance was presented last Thursday at IBM’s annual meeting. IBM announced it will spend $4 billion this year on cloud, analytics, and mobile technologies alone, and it will also be investing in social and security. By 2018, the company plans to achieve $40 billion in annual revenue from investing in these areas.

While the focus on SWAC will continue in the business world, many sectors, especially manufacturing and retail, have another acronym to think about and plan for – IoT, the Internet of Things. With IoT, everyday objects and machines have network connectivity, allowing them to send or receive data.

Data captured through sensors will further transform industries and organizations as we know them.

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