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Gartner sees 'context-based computing' on the horizon

Ellen Messmer | Oct. 22, 2010
Being a CIO -- or working for one -- no longer means just keeping a data center and network running

Patterns related to individuals can be compiled using "context-aware applications using ensemble programming techniques," Clark said. Context-aware ads and displays will become commonplace as "hyperpersonalization" takes off in earnest in the next few years, he said, predicting there will be an overall net economic impact globally in excess of $140 billion by 2015.

"Context is where e-commerce and the Web were in 1990," he added, saying mobile smartphones and other devices will be a way to deliver $13.9 billion in content-aware advertising by 2015.

"Identity, community, intent, environment -- it's about leveraging information about people, objects and places to make the user's experience more enjoyable," Clark said. "At the center is the end user."

But Clark admitted that people may not be ready for it. In a  recent survey that asked, "Can we use personally identifiable information to deliver services to you?" about 25% of U.S. respondents said they'd opt out. In addition, he acknowledged that furor over privacy issues and lack of effective opt-out plans may create an environment where both United States and European Union lawmakers step in to update legislation that will control the type of information used and who may collect it.

But mining social networks is part of playing the context-awareness card, according to Gartner analysts Carol Rozwell and Bill Gassman. LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook are just some of the ways to find out about people, and to find out what they might be saying about your company, good or bad, and how much online influence they may have, the analysts said in their presentation.

"Facebook is an advertiser's dream," Rozwell said. "Facebook has come to the point they're selling this information." For instance, Facebook is selling information about "change in relationship status" to wedding photographers. Telecom providers can also "draw a social-network picture" based on call records, she said.

A new wave of vendors is adding in information gathering and analysis, including GalaxyAdvisors, Radian6 and Attensity by offering social-media collection and analysis software and services, while idiro, NetMap and Nimzostat do industry-specific analysis. There's also a reason to do deep analytics on social communications internally within organizations to determine why specific projects and their teams aren't working optimally to carry out goals, she added. For most Gartner ITxpo attendees, context-based computing lies in the future if ever. Their more daring ventures today involve decisions to shift some of their IT resources from on-premises data installations to cloud-based services whether public, infrastructure-based or private.

At ITxpo, Randi Levin, CTO for the City of Los Angeles, spoke on the topic of the city's ongoing e-mail migration by 30,000 employees away from an older Novell Groupwise e-mail system to Google Apps with systems integrator CSC involved in the contract, which has been posted online and gained a lot of attention.


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