Cutting Out the Middleware
With the looming rise of the clipboard to transport XML, disguised as a text and using Microformats, the use of the clipboard to transfer data from one place to another is just going to explode. And by data, I mean full records including contacts, events, reviews, and eventually I'm sure, orders, invoices, quotes, and products.
The Live Clipboard vision gives users the ability to transfer data without having to rely on software. It'll be the end of exporting and importing files from one program to another, or copying and pasting fragments of a record from one program to another.
The onus of keeping information secure will be almost entirely on the user, because he'll be able to share whatever information he has access to simply by copying say, an invoice, and pasting it into an email or instant message as microformatted HTML.
Here's how I see the market unfolding:
- Social software sites will begin (and already have, see AimPages amd Yahoo Tech) adopting Microformats
- Web commerce sites will begin accepting Microformats. Amazon and eBay will probably be the first large sites that accept them, followed by PayPal at some point.
- Microformatted content will be so readily available and easy to use that commercial enterprise software will begin to support it.
- Since microformatted content is now so prevalent and easy to use that it's everywhere else, CxO's of smaller companies will start folding it into their internal development projects.
- Once these all happen, users will be able to easily transfer data between the Web sites they use, the software they use, their personal records, and their job.
And something very cool will eventually happen where companies will be able to transfer data between each other using RSS (or ATOM) feeds filled with Microformatted content. Synchronizing two databases on two different networks will no longer be a chore, but a 30 minute exercise. Users will be able to email orders to their partners by copying and pasting them into an email (their partners would then hopefully be able to copy the order from the email and paste into their sales system).
Security will become an issue I'm sure, because this really places the onus of filtering what data is shared on the user himself. A whole slew of new issues will spring up around that, simply because data will be so much more accessible than it ever has been, and software will no longer be a roadblock in the process. Right now the only way to share data is via email, but the emails will also become much richer and more meaningful.
It will be an interesting time to be involved in Enterprise software, I'm sure.