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The Rise of Smart Applications

i am a long-time avid technologist. i began my tech career in the Apple world but moved to Enterprise Solutions later.


Is that a smart application I see before me?

Are you application smart?

I don’t mean smart-aleck, informing you that your shirt and pants don’t match or that you are wearing two different colored socks. Rather, it is your application-aware. The world of applications changed multiple times over the past 40 years. The first applications were written on punch cards and were fed into giant mainframe computers by people in white lab coats. That is where I believe the term computer scientist came originated. People are walking around mainframes in white lab coats. It probably isn’t where it came from, but the thought makes me happy: Mainframes Achugged as the application platform for many years.
In the last 1970s, the personal computer appeared. The personal computer introduced a new form of application, one called Client-server. Client-server applications no longer required that big bulky mainframe to operate. So the next change was the rise of client-server solutions. The client Server is where the server does some of the work, and the client does the rest. So that was the second big change in the application world.

The third change was the move to what I like to call bite-sized applications. With the launch of the mobile device stores, we suddenly had applications that did less but cost less. Of course, you could use familiar applications on your mobile device, but overall the application did just a little less than the PC version. That’s why I call them bite-sized applications.

From there, we have a current change in the world of applications. What is commonly called cloud computing. Cloud represents a resource that is in the new IT world of automation. Cloud introduces concepts of Virtual Machines and the concept of Destinations. What is the destination? In the old days, that was what your parents wrote on the refrigerator and planned on at the kitchen table using maps. A destination is a place to go.

please review the 1200 lines of the spreadsheet in the next 2 minutes!

A destination is where the application goes to retrieve the data it needs. For example, your bank is a destination you probably use often. You log into your phone or computer and either launch the banking applications or log into the bank's website. That quite simply is a destination in the applications world. You, as the user, connect to the Destination with your device. Your device may be mobile. Your device may be in a fixed location. Nevertheless, you connect to the same Destination no matter where your machine operates.

The history lesson aside, we are entering the last current state of application evolution, the rise of Smart Applications. A smart application understands three critical components of the situation — the device and what it can do. The Destination and what is waiting there. Finally, how do I get from the device to the Destination?

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Smart applications are aware of the user's situation. For example, critical personal data shouldn't be shared or moved over suspect connections. In that scenario, a mobile device connected to a destination is the high-risk area and either encrypts the sent data or moves to a new connection. That is a person sitting in an airport lounge connected to the free WiFi and their banking application. The user is unaware that the application moved to either encrypt the data or changed that suspect free WiFi connection!

The initial smart applications won't be that network-aware. Instead, they will focus more on device understanding to support the user. My favorite example of this is the massive spreadsheet that is attached to an email. The task is to review the spreadsheet. You only have your mobile phone with you. That is not a task you want to have to accomplish on your smartphone. It s daunting, hurts your eyes, and takes much longer than if you could zoom quickly out and see the entire data set on a larger screen.h

Enter the smart application that understands the file in question and the fact that the user has a smallish cell phone screen. It can prompt the user to switch to their laptop or tablet. Or, in places that support the concept, the smart application can suggest connecting to a projector (perhaps in your bag) or a nearby monitor available for users to consume.

That solves my problem and helps me remain productive.
Smart Applications represent the 5th evolution of software. First was the mainframe, with the scientists in their white coasts bustling to and fro. Then there was the PC (and the Macintosh) that brought computers to the home. Then we had the iPhone, applications changed to bite-sized, and now we are ready to move past the 4th evolution, the reality of the post-cloud application world. Welcome to the dawn of the age of Smart Applications.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 DocAndersen

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