By Sramana Mitra and guest author Shaloo Shalini
Sramana: In the remaining time, I would like to brainstorm with you about what you see as potential entrepreneurial opportunities in the cloud computing domain. I run an initiative called 1 Million by 1 Million. It is an initiative to help a million entrepreneurs reach $1 million in revenue. We have a lot cloud computing entrepreneurs who are looking for insights from thought leaders in the industry on where are the opportunities in various domains. If you think both from a horizontal point of view and a technology domain point of view, for the CIO’s office in a mid-sized company and also from a CPG point of view, where do you see solutions that you would like to have but are not finding?
Scott: It seems that there are vendors of sorts that are involved with a lot of the different main areas in cloud computing. I can’t think of any holes per se. I think there are some vendors, but still there is a big future, in a sense, in thin client computing and hosted computers. I don’t feel that this market has taken off from the customer’s side yet. Ideally, it should be taking off and it does make a lot of sense especially, there is more and more thin clients now. Maybe if we could find a way to make the iPad link up to a thin client then, you know, something interesting could be achieved. I think that could revolutionize the way people think about home computing and business computing.
Sramana: Do you support the iPad in your organization?
Scott: Well, not really. There are some people who use them and read their mail and such, but that’s about it.
Sramana: There is no real enterprise application on the iPad that could potentially plug in to your central systems and provide reporting; is that something you would like see?
Scott: Exactly. Some vendors out there are doing some iPad stuff. But the iPad is not being fully exploited in the enterprise, and I think it certainly should be in the future.
Sramana: Do you see opportunities for entrepreneurs to make iPad applications for the enterprise, or it could be iPhone or BlackBerry applications, whatever it is that you are calling the thin client applications? Is that specific to analytics, or would you like to see this in other areas? It sounds like analytics and reporting is the best place to plug in the iPad, right?
Scott: It is probably the best place to start and, surely, it is some of the best things that could be used. Even trying to integrate document management could be interesting! Thinking through some of things that are already in place in organizations and finding ways in which you could use the iPad, that certainly should be exploited more or less in the next several years.
Sramana: When you talk about document management in the form of an iPad application, can you give me a little more detail on what you envision? Say, if you were to design such an application, what functionality would you look for?
Scott: Have you seen the way they use the iPhone at the Apple Store? They have bar code reader embedded in it and they can do some fun stuff, and it is pretty neat. I am thinking through an example here. Say you are out in the warehouse, you are trying to look up some information, you have all the documents in front of you that you have taken, and you can scan one of the existing shipping documents that has a bar code on it. That pulls up all the other documents that are related to this, such as a purchase order. That would be a neat solution to be able to get the iPad more embedded into things that you are already doing within an organization.
Sramana: In terms of applications such as warehouse management or retail floor space management, when you are stocking shelves and you need information while you are doing that in a handheld mode or even doing technical or customer support – those are the kind of applications that have typically been thought of as good mobile applications. You are saying that bringing all of that on to the iPad in a thin client mode would be interesting, right?
Scott: Yes, it would. In our example, when I say the iPhone, it is all relevant to the iPad as well , and other thin client and you could do a little bit more within one of those iPad with a bigger screen infrastructure.
Sramana: I see. Any other ideas?
Scott: That is all I can think of off the top of my head. I do think there are a lot of industry opportunities out there; if you look at each of these different industries, whether it’s retail, oil & gas, or medical. If you look hard enough, there are needs that people have that aren’t being fulfilled today. Trying to find those opportunities and acting on them will definitely help your entrepreneurs get to that march.