Because so much of our activities in our daily lives have some form of connection to the Internet some amazing effects happen. Google recently launched a service where they track flu related queries that people are using in their searches. Analysing their data back to 2003 and comparing it to the CDC network they found that they can pinpoint the start of a flu epidemic two weeks earlier than the CDC. They can even follow the spread of the flu geographically (at least, in the USA).
This is I think an amazing example of how we can use this kind of implicit “wisdom of crowds” type of ideas. considering the risk of the swine flu epidemic in Mexico this might come in handy… The flow of the epidemic can be followed in Google maps.
More information you can find in the Nature article and of course on the Google website.
Some time ago I started a new company with two friends, Jan Arends and Eddy Reimerink. Our focus is a partnership between technology providers that are focused on a niche market but have technology that can be used in other markets with solution vendors strong in these other markets. The website is www.remarketable.nl and you can read more in the following slides:
Recently Hans Wortmann and me have given a presentation in Amsterdam for the Holland Financial Centre (HFC). Subject of this presentation was (of course) the development of SaaS in relation to the financial Sector. ICT is very much undervalued in the financial sector. Even though financial institutions spend considerably amount of money on IT it seldom is used strategically in practice. Robin Fransman, deputy director of HFC, showed this clearly by pointing out that the wordt ICT is only mentioned once in the working plan for the HFC for 2008/2009. This funny enough to everyone’s surprise!
In the presentation (that you can find here) we showed many examples how ICT in general and SaaS in particular will change the banking sector significantly in the coming years. For example, Google already has a banking licence in the Netherlands…
The presentation changed into a lively and interesting discussion with the the audiance. The general feeling was that financial institutions really should be more aware of the strategic possibilities (and competitive dangers) of ICT. At the moment we are working an a way, together with HFC, to keep that discussion going.
You can find the presentation here.
Yesterday I gave a presentation for the Services Innovation unit at SenterNovem and the Economic Affairs department. Focus was on how SaaS is one of the important enabling foundations of service innovations. Service innovation is possible through advancements in ICT but ICT is not a transparent factor that makes everything possible. Some functionalities are easy to achieve whereas some are hard or impossible due to the quirky nature of technology.
However, often to little attention is given to the relation between business goals and ICT possibilities. Our statement is that both need explicit attention.
The presentation is ended with a call to start working on a national testbed infrastructure for the development of SaaS services. Espcially a country like the Netherlands can be strong in delivering services by “mashing up” all kinds of basic services due to our strengths in trade. In the development of the inrastructure needed to create an agile business community capable of creating and delivering services worldwide there certainly is a role for the government.