10 Cool Cutting-Edge Technologies And How They Relate to BI?

Each year, Computerworld chooses ten innovative technologies that meet the needs of corporate IT. Here’s a look at how the 2007 Computerworld Horizon Award winners (and honorable mentions) announced yesterday might effect the business intelligence market, sorted by relevance:

Highly Relevant

Memory SpotThis miniature wireless data chip, 2mm to 4mm square, can be stuck on, or embedded in, any object. Prototypes of the chips can hold as much as 4Mbit and future versions are expected to store several megabytes. Relevance to BI: Seems curiously undersold in the Computerworld article (movie trailers on posters?!). RFID on steroids: when combined with cheap sensors, this would potentially allow any object to store vast amounts of information about itself and its interaction with other devices.

Apollo (honorable mention). This cross-operating system application runtime allows Web developers to use their existing skills to build and deploy rich Internet applications on the desktop, so users can engage with Web applications even if there is no Internet connection. Relevance to BI: BI is a great example of environment that needs to seamlessly switch between thin-client online access (accessing an alert) and rich local functionality (drilling down into causes) — expect to see Apollo or similar technologies take an increasing role in BI interfaces.

Data Governance

One of the winners and three of the “honorable mentions” are directly relevant to BI and data security. The phrase “Information is Power” is truer than ever, organizations are becoming increasingly porous, and it’s no longer enough to put in place simple restrictions. Basic access security is giving way to data governance, including the management of the complex real-life relationships between information and users. Healthcare is a great example — there are many, many different people that require some sort of access, there has to be privacy for individuals, but the same data is essential for clinical analysis — how can you ensure that researchers can never get enough data to compromise an individual’s privacy?.

Data governance will spawn an entire new industry. Tighter controls over data storage, archiving, and transmission, and managing identities and relationships will all be part of it. (By the way, just in case anybody is still fooled, retention policies are really “deletion policies”. Especially with new text analytic technologies, any incautious emails and documents can come back to haunt you. Don’t write anything, ever, that you wouldn’t like to see published on the web.)

An Identity Passport. This combination of services and software helps consumers manage their online identities and ensure security of online transactions, with a goal of creating a universally accepted identity system for consumers across all Web sites, similar to a passport. 

DataDefender. This information leak-stoppage appliance uses a digital fingerprinting algorithm to monitor information traffic and block confidential information from leaving the network. The tool combines insider threat management technology, including real-time breach monitoring and remediation capabilities.

Security Suite. BitArmor protects, tracks and manages data throughout the company at wire speed so users won’t notice any delay. The software protects data on laptops, desktops and application servers, and can seamlessly encrypt, classify, apply retention policies to, suspend access to and destroy any data stored anywhere in the organization. 

ActiveSentry .  This intelligent desktop security software prevents employees from accidentally or maliciously distributing private data to the outside world. ActiveSentry monitors a broad array of distribution methods, including e-mail, instant messaging, blogs, file transfer, printing and removable storage devices, such as memory sticks or CDs. Uses ContextIQ, a context-based engine that automatically understands a user’s intent or meaning and triggers real-time alerts.

Of Interest

Smart Talker. This intelligent command engine bridges natural language and computer language, allowing machines to “understand” the actual meaning embedded in a sentence. Relevance to BI: If it works, very relevant — but decades of previous failed attempts means that it should be taken with a pinch fistful of salt (will we ever interact directly with computers? will they be like Marvin or Eddie the shipboard computer?).

Web Surfing with Eye Gaze. EyePoint makes it possible for eye-gaze to be used as a viable alternative to a mouse. Relevance to BI: Part of the Matrix / Minority Report interface future?

Slice-and-Dice Dispersed Storage. Cleversafe slices, scrambles, compresses and disperses data over the Internet to disparate nodes (servers) on a grid. Relevance to BI: we’ll always be in the market for better, more secure storage of data

Power-Packed Memory. A memory compression technique that more than doubles the amount of usable memory in embedded systems such as cell phones without any changes to hardware, without any changes to applications, and with negligible performance and power consumption. Relevance to BI: today’s users expect data “ATAWAD” — any time, any where, any device. Anything that boosts device memory can only help speed mobile BI deployments.

Who Cares?

Wearable Gadgetry. Users can see schedules, phone numbers, addresses and recent e-mail messages without having to start up their laptops. Relevance to BI: Drill on alerts embedded in your jacket sleeve? I think not.

The Everywhere OS. Ghost moves the operating system onto the Web, providing users with a Ghost virtual computer — a free PC environment accessible from any browser.  Relevance to BI: ghostly, at best.

Inkless Photo Printing. Zink is a new way to print full-color digital images without ink cartridges or ribbons. Relevance to BI: How cares about photos? And actually printing them is so last century…

Observation Grid. Globus Medicus is a robust and user-proven method for sharing 3-D medical images on a grid. Relevance to BI: better network speeds? ho-hum.

SC 5832 (honorable mention). This complete cluster node on a chip. A SiCortex cluster node with DDR-2 memory consumes less than 20 watts of power, an order of magnitude less than the 250 watts used in a conventional cluster node, dramatically improving communication latency and bandwidth. Relevance to BI: so it’s faster, smaller, and greener — but what else do we expect?