My biggest takehome from yesterday’s Dreamforce Keynote by Mark Benioff wasn’t the power of the Cloud, Mark’s personality, or the evolution of the salesforce.com platform (though it’s interesting to follow the continued expansion away from purely sales-oriented “stuff” to a broader host of applications).
It was the realization that the move to cloud computing as a mainstream service highlights a very real concern for such systems: the need to carefully control and streamline the data itself.
In the old days, computers were largely personal in nature—we used them at home, with our own software all the time, we rarely moved data from one computer to another (where have you gone, oh great floppy diskettes?).
As a result, our own schemes for managing and organizing data were mostly of our own personal preferences.
And now computers are no longer our own.
They’re our companies’ systems. Our spouse’s. Our neighbors’ in cyberspace. Our data is now part of a corporate network, a critical application database, a Web forum, our social media sites.
Sales intelligence and predictive analysis systems only work if the data they’re using have a basis in accurate reality. We’re increasingly going to have to learn to break some bad data management habits, especially as the future of cloud computing goes forward.
Based on the announcement of the Database.com platform, it’s clear that we’re still suffering from the shock of waking up to discover that our computer systems are no longer personal and individual, but communal—and taking care of our data in a communal space is a whole lot different than doing it when it’s just us and a couple of 5 ¼” floppies.