Happy Birthday to Us

The Virtual Life : Article

It has been nearly 230 years since Thomas Jefferson penned the original draft of The Declaration of Independence, aggregating the original 13 American colonies into a new nation separate from Great Britain.

As we mark America’s birthday, there are a few other birthdays that the team at Virtual, Inc. will celebrate this year. First, the birthday of Virtual itself – July 6, 2014 marks 15 years, and we are grateful to have been a part of many global technology movements that have since transformed the lives of consumers and altered how businesses function.

We’ve had a good run, sticking to our roots as a technology-focused association management company. Our influential technology-focused client organizations helped us succeed. Here are a few of the client birthdays we are observing this year:

The Application Service Provider Industry Consortium was the promotional consortium that helped launch Virtual. Formally unveiled at the Networld/Interop conference in Las Vegas on May 12, 1999, The ASP Industry Consortium grew to more than 800 corporate members in 18 months and established a global ecosystem to promote this new computing paradigm.

The term application service provisioning has given way to SaaS (Software as a Service), itself a subset of the cloud computing movement. During its second year, under the leadership of Chairman Traver Gruen-Kennedy, the ASP Industry Consortium promoted this new computing model aggressively with public relations and marketing programs and reached more than a billion people worldwide.

The Consortium is now dormant, but cloud computing and SaaS are booming. UK-based Juniper Research predicts the global SaaS market will swell to $53 billion by 2018. The model the ASP Industry Consortium formed to promote has gone mainstream.

The PCI Industrial Computer Manufacturers Group (simply known now as PICMG) will turn 20 in August. PICMG’s original mission was to extend the PCI local bus standard, from the PCI Special Interest Group, for use in non-traditional computer markets such as Industrial automation, medical, military and telecom. The organization published its first specification, CompactPCI®, soon after launch.

PICMG is a great example of a standard-setting organization that has never sat on its laurels and continues to bring innovation to market. Under the able leadership of President Joe Pavlat, PICMG has consistently extended its original mission, publishing a family of specifications that maximize systems availability and reduce costs for a wide and growing range of telecommunications and industrial applications.

Today, PICMG’s first specification, CompactPCI, is not only critical for high-performance computing applications on earth, it is extending its reach into the cosmos. Two CompactPCI-based systems are the brains of the Curiosity Rover, the mobile science laboratory that just completed its first Martian year (687 Earth days) exploring the surface of the red planet.

The Near Field Communication Forum turns 10 years old this October. The NFC Forum incorporated in October of 2004 to advance adoption of Near Field Communication technology, a short-range, wireless connectivity technology that allows consumers to perform contactless transactions, access digital content, and connect electronic devices quickly and intuitively.

After early forecasts of an NFC adoption explosion failed to materialize, the Forum became a poster child for strength of purpose and staying power. NFC Forum members remained onboard and committed to the core activities of the organization – specification work, marketing and ecosystem development and building out a testing and certification program for NFC-enabled devices. The Forum’s second Chairman (elected in 2008), Koichi Tagawa-san of Sony, provided consistent leadership during a time when NFC market adoption was in jeopardy.

Today, NFC technology is taking off.  Forecasts for NFC-enabled device adoption range from more than 400 million devices in 2014 to 1.2 billion devices worldwide by 2018. As for mobile payments, Richard Char, Managing Director and Global Head of Digital Networks and Merchant Services at Citi says, “By the end of 2014, you’re going to see NFC clearly emerge as the victor in the mobile wallet race.”

Not every Virtual association partner has been as successful as these three in fundamentally changing the global technology landscape. But it’s a safe bet that we’ll be celebrating future birthdays with new association partners, helping to create disruptive technology movements that transform how we compute, communicate and interact with the world and each other.

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