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Back Again, From the Brink

by Anne Lapkin  |  February 10, 2010  |  6 Comments

I had only started this blogging thing when I was distracted by a personal tragedy – my husband was killed in a plane crash at the end of last year.

So while I had come to the Gartner Blogger Network with the best of intentions, I got a bit side tracked.  Now that I am back at work and hurling myself once again into the maelstrom of peer review, client inquiry and exciting new research areas, I find myself thinking more and more “I should blog about that”.  So here i am.

Where goest thou, context?

We’ve been wrestling over the last few weeks with the shape of our context aware computing agenda for 2010.  I had the good fortune to lead or moderate several of the context aware research sessions, which were very well attended and very lively.  One of the very interesting discussions was about the evolution of the context eco-system -  shorthanded by my colleague Nick Jones (silver tongued devil that he is…) as “Who will own your contextual soul in 2020?”  Among the scenarios that were postulated were:

  • the super-player walled gardens, in which people will align themselves with one major context provider like Google, or Nokia or Microsoft
  • the coalition of equals, where context information is freely shared across boundaries, the way flight information is shared in the airline reservation network.

I don’t think the answer is one or the other – they are a continuum.  After all, the airline reservations networks were not always interconnected.  They used to be a collection of walled gardens.  They became a coalition of equals when it was economically necessary for them to be.  And this pattern has repeated throughout history. POSC came about because no single oil company could afford to explore and exploit by themselves.  And my personal feeling is there will be no real progress on universal health records until it becomes an economic necessity, but that’s another post – I digress.

So what we’ll see in the short term is the Googles and the Nokias and the China Telcomms and the Apples competing to bind individuals by managing their context information in a proprietary fashion. The majoir factor will be your level of trust in your provider. That’s in the consumer space.  In the enterprise space, the big players will probably be Microsoft and Cisco.

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Over time, end user pressure will force the players to open their walled gardens and coalitions will ensue, but that will take time.


Anne Lapkin
Research VP
7 years at Gartner
25 years IT industry

Anne Lapkin is a research vice president in Gartner Research, where she provides clients with advice on the alignment of technology solutions with business goals. She is an expert in the development… Read Full Bio

Thoughts on Back Again, From the Brink

  1. David B says:

    Very sorry to hear about your husband.
    Good to see you back however. Time, work and good friends does help the healing.

  2. Quinn C says:

    Nice to see that you’re back on-line Anne, and staying engaged related to this important technology direction / opportunity. Keep up the blogging – we appreciate the frequent insight.

  3. Hi! I was surfing arround on Yahoo and found your blog. Cool website! I also have a website . Please feel free to leave a comment there.

  4. Nice read, I just passed this onto a friend who was doing some research on that And he just bought me lunch as I found it for him smile Thus let me rephrase that: Thank you for lunch!

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  6. Anne, do you remember me? We were playmates in the seventh grade in chapel hill. I was watching a documentary on Israel and I suddenly thought of you.

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