Posted by: wiltjk | February 26, 2013

Transient Data in Motion (TDiM) – Key to the Modern Application

I was recently discussing the modern application with my good friend/colleague, J.D. Meier, and the recent Forrester definition really rings solid, “Modern applications are composed of  systems of systems, you shouldn’t separate your mobile strategy from your cloud strategy, or your big data strategy” – Jeffrey Hammond, Forrester Research.
The article highlights that the modern application will consist of so much more than just a mobile user interface/experience; that the actual cloud and big data components behind it are going to be equally (sometimes, more) important.

In his work, Mr. Hammond cites six (6) tenants of the modern application:

  1. Omni-channel – modern applications are designed to work across all devices (natively)
  2. Elastic – successful modern applications are designed to spin-up or spin down as needed
  3. API-oriented – modern applications compose and expose APIs everywhere
  4. Responsive – modern applications are built to deal with the realities of a public network topology that is increasingly out of IT’s control
  5. Organic – modern applications tend to evolve more like a biological organism than a big bang product release
  6. Contextual – modern applications increase the use of contextual data at their disposal from data from sensors, to machine to machine (M2M) data, and complex events

It is this last tenant that I think warrants a consideration for the fourth piece of the puzzle. If the modern application is composed of devices, cloud, and big data – I propose we add one more component: Transient Data in Motion (TDiM). This is short term, meaningful data that is short-lived but carries the highest value to the experience. Yes, it may come from sensors and it may eventually be stored in big data repositories (but doesn’t need to be). The key is that it is truly meaningful for only a short time and then, essentially, can be discarded.

In short, consider TDIM as the repository and resource for the "situational awareness" of an application.

Perhaps some real-world examples would help:

  • Waze is one of my favorites because it is the quintessential social navigation app. It adds active information from other waze users to enrich your experience by providing simple information like the average speed on the road in both directions, where a traffic jam resides, and identifies law enforcement locations through active and passive contextual means. All this information is very meaningful for a short duration and there is no need to save it once it becomes stale.
  • At work, we have an amazing shuttle app that allows us, from our phone, to request a shuttle from one building on campus to another. The app "knows" your current location and you choose your destination. In the cloud, it selects the right shuttle to pick you up and then displays this on your phone with a picture of the shuttle, it’s number, and a live map of it coming to you. Once you get on, all the above is no longer needed and goes away.
  • Glympse like waze is another great example of TDiM at work.

The important point, here, is that transient data in motion is becoming a very important part of our modern application ecosystem and we can now begin to look for more and more ways to utilize this temporal information to enhance and enrich our solutions.

Obviously, in the personal app arena, it has taken off. However, in the enterprise setting, it can be used equally well when providing simple, relative information about your local environment to enhance consumption of your service offerings.

J.D. offered up the example of a coffee shop chain which wants to use a mobile app to communicate the number of customers vs. capacity at each of its stores so customers who want a private meeting over coffee can pick a store which is not overly busy.

I will be curious how others will look to use TDiM – please comment if this is in your future!


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