For the last couple years, Razorfish has been very bullish on where cloud computing is taking brands, agencies and consumers. The cloud is no longer just about server technology — it’s about removing barriers to innovation and enabling great things. But even that is no longer enough. That’s why this year’s Razorfish 5 is about going beyond the cloud by using Big Data-fueled targeting combined with machine learning platforms and APIs to move your business forward.

You might be skeptical that cloud computing yields anything beyond cost savings. However, the reality is that there are a number of benefits, from better targeting and recommendations for clients, to driving faster speed-to-market time with new and better digital experiences. Major cloud vendors like Microsoft and Google, and smaller players like Rackspace, continue to innovate at a blistering pace. Last year, we talked about the amazing technology from Amazon Web Services (AWS) called Elastic MapReduce (EMR). At Razorfish, we are able to leverage hundreds of EMR servers to speed data processing from three weeks down to eight hours. The Amazon chart below shows the continued growth of new services on their public cloud. The cloud’s reduced costs then enable more experimentation, which is what accelerates innovation. It’s clear that if your computing capabilities are stuck in a private data center, you will continue to miss out on innovation.

What does that mean for consumers, who now have devices to enjoy your experiences, anytime and anywhere? Last year, we talked about the amazing rate of change, using Apple’s mobile juggernaut as a prime example. The iPhone sold one million units faster than the iPod, and the iPad outpaced the iPhone to that sales level. This example continues to ring true. For example, the third-generation iPad now has more device market share than its first-generation device. So, change is brisker than ever and, more importantly for us, so is the pace of adoption.

This means our data scientists can create deeper meaning at the intersection of data and digital. Last year, we marveled that a supercomputer named Watson was able to demolish the greatest Jeopardy! players in the world. We later learned that the team at IBM beat the best by taking the traditional world of AI — both brute force and rule-based — even one step further. Yes, Watson “ingested” massive data sets, including everything from Encyclopedia Britannica to Wikipedia. But what really enabled Watson to win was machine learning, which requires lots of processing and is perfect for cloud computing. The IBM team literally trained Watson by feeding it all the old questions they could from Jeopardy!. None of this would have been possible without IBM’s technology platform and key Web-enabled APIs.

The magic doesn’t stop there. In May, Nevada issued Google the first driver’s license for an autonomous vehicle, legalizing the operation of autonomous vehicles. Many traditional auto companies claim the technology is here, but it’s the legal, cultural, and price hurdles that are slowing down the transition from human drivers to safer, more reliable computer drivers. With more than 93 percent of auto accidents caused by human error, AI is certainly a worthy endeavor. What makes the Google autonomous program interesting for business and marketing is that it’s proving that great things can happen using data and computing. Google’s platform enables vehicles to base their “decisions” on enormous amounts of data, after spending hundreds of thousands of miles teaching their platform what to do with the data. For example, these cars have learned the difference between a tumbleweed blowing across the road and a bouncing ball that might be chased by a child. Imagine applying that same power to your next Web experience or marketing campaign.[1]

All of these innovations now available to us enable a new world of digital storytelling. Cloud technologies provide a platform upon which we can build — leveraging open APIs and content to help bring the digital story to life.

2012 Razorfish 5 articles

This year’s articles cover an exciting mix of new technologies and recommend changes to help your organization thrive in the new digital world. We begin with a look at ubiquitous computing by Jeremy Lockhorn and Heiko Schweickhardt — it’s all about keeping up with your customer behavior as every physical touch point becomes digital (like the AI-based Nest Learning Thermostat, and the Arduino community that’s hacking all conceivable physical touch points).

Next up, we counsel on how to use data to target and personalize Web sites. Mark Taylor, Cory Cruser and I analyze the results of the 2012 Razorfish/Adobe Targeting Readiness Study, and discuss how well sites actually personalize experiences. It turns out 50 percent of Web sites aren’t even recognizing repeat visitors, according to our survey of CTOs, CIOs and other decision makers. We explore why and provide a roadmap for establishing more consumer-centric Web sites.

Then, John J. Ivory and Paul do Forno take on the world of omnichannel commerce and what it means for your customers. It’s still all about the customer, but with the old-world funnel gone, online sales are changing. As the world enables more commerce for businesses at any touch point, the Razorfish team will help you to make sense of the results of the convergence of ubiquitous computing and omnichannel commerce.

Razorfish Fluent™ team members Ashish Mamania and Jochen Toppe examine the importance of ensuring that your digital experience takes advantage of the newest technologies in their article about opening up digital marketing. They explain how the next generation of APIs will enable your platform to keep up with ubiquitous computing and omnichannel commerce.

Since the pace of adoption continues to accelerate, we need to speed software production. Martin Jacobs and Rafi Jacoby discuss how to build production software faster, and how to learn from the startup masters. After all, it’s telling that a startup today would likely choose technologies and approaches that most large enterprises already employ.

Finally, we look at how your processes and organizations must change in order to drive innovation — specifically by enabling cross-disciplinary thinking. “By 2017, the CMO will spend more on IT than the CIO,” Gartner predicts. CMOs and CTOs need to learn to work together, whether they are ready to or not. John Cunningham and I explain how organizations need to change and what you can do to make it happen.

You might have noticed that, despite the title, we’re actually giving you six articles. That’s how much is going on in our brave new world. Conventions are made to be broken and we’re here to show you how. Enjoy.

Big Data is a key enabler of each of this year’s Razorfish 5 topics. Learn more before reading the articles.

Even as we publish this third annual Razorfish 5, we are looking ahead. What’s next? We welcome topic suggestions and would love to hear your ideas.

Razorfish Going Beyond the Cloud Webinar

Cloud computing now enables many great things. That’s why this year’s Razorfish 5 is about going beyond the cloud by using Big Data-fueled targeting combined with machine learning platforms and APIs to move your business forward. Global CTO Ray Velez will highlight the key findings from the report and, along with other contributors, will answer your questions.

Register now for the Razorfish Going Beyond the Cloud Webinar.



  1. ˆ Tom Vanderbilt, Let the Robot Drive: The Autonomous Car of the Future is Here, Wired Magazine, January 20, 2012.

Written By

Follow the Conversation