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Smarter Fishing

Last year the IT industry was saturated with the cloud buzz word.  Even Microsoft got in the game and took the cloud to the mainstream by adverts of suburban wives cropping photos on the ‘cloud’.

Every sales person was challenged with how many times he could bring up the word in a meeting.  There are even cloud magazines and cloud soap dispensers that allow you to have just in time soap inventory.

OK that last one is not true, yet, but we did see everyone talking about the cloud and how it could IT become more productive and increase the ROI for a company big and small.  I often here people tell me they are not big enough to use the cloud, some say they are too big.  At times people bring up the fact their systems are too complicated for a cloud infrastructure.  I respect their opinions and we continue to talk about other aspects of the IT industry like flash or the price of hard drives in Thailand.  But a video on YouTube recently caught my attention.

This video is about a group of fishermen in Italy near the port of Bari.  Bari is on the Adriatic Sea and is the second most important economic center of southern Italy after Naples.  A relative small city of only 325,000 people but steep in culture dating back to the 3rd century BC as a point of junction between the coast road and the Via Traiana and as a port for trade.  One of the other interesting facts is the city has been a center for fishing with tons of markets and fishermen who have fished for many, many generations.

In the past, the fishermen were going out and catching as many fish as they could and then returning back to port to sell them at the market.  This created a lot of waste as not all of the fish were purchased and the overage was wasted.  Also this created an imbalance in the market as too many fish saturated the market which drove the prices down and left very little margin for the fishermen.

With the help of the University of Bari, IBM developed a system that allowed this industry to become more efficient.  One solution was to allow the fishermen to communicate their real time catch numbers.  The other was a virtual fish market to sell fish before the boat returned back to the dock. 

Now the fishermen only catch what the market is demanding; lowering the amount of waste, but also allowing the market to control how much supply is needed.  This system in this example allowed the fishermen to increase their income by 25% and decreased the time to market by 70%.  Real numbers that had a stunning result on some of the biggest skeptics.

There is another important side effect of this technology change.  With fewer fish being caught the healthier the fish population.  Over fishing in the waters off our coasts have been devastating our food supply but also changing the make up of the fish as the food chain is mutated.

Now did IBM file this under their cloud solutions? You bet we did.  But in reality we have been doing this sort of thing for a long time.  Was this any different than what we did on the Apollo project for NASA back in the 1960’s? Not so much.  We have the hardware, the software, services and financing to fix the problems of today.  During your next meeting with IBM or vendor of your choice, don’t get hung up on the term cloud but think more about these fishermen and how their lives have changed.

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Categories: General Tags: , , , ,
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  1. January 11, 2012 at 3:55 am

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