Tablets drive worker productivity in part due to their hyper-portability, as I argued in a recent blog post. Workers can (and, we showed with data, do) use tablets in more places, places where they wouldn’t (and don’t) take their PCs.
The top question I’ve received about tablet hyper-portability is this one: “Tablets are very portable, sure, but are people using them as creation devices or as (mere) consumption devices?” The general assumption behind this question tends to be that “creation” activities are equal to “productivity,” while “consumption” activities are not. I believe this is a false dichotomy, however. Consuming the right information at the right time can increase worker productivity in and of itself. Let me offer a few examples showing how that can work:
Retail sales associates using tablets with customers. Retailers are equipping sales associates with tablets to use on the retail floor, creating richer interactions with customers – and driving higher sales.
Physicians conducting patient rounds with tablets. Physicians can gain rich, immediate insight into their patients’ health records – saving time and driving more accurate diagnoses in less time. They also use the tablets to show patients results (like x-ray images), creating a better patient experience.
Technology’s value to a business derives at least in part from its ability to increase productivity. The 1987 Nobel Prize winning economist Robert Solow demonstrated that technology increases the productivity of both capital and labor to create economic growth.
Some technologies radically reshape productivity. Take, for example, the cotton gin (1792), which fundamentally transformed labor. A quote from Wikipedia claims: “With a cotton gin, in one day a man could remove seed from as much upland cotton as would have previously taken a woman working two months to process at one pound a day.” By profoundly increasing worker productivity, the cotton gin revolutionized both the textile and agricultural industries.
We’re living through several technological revolutions of our own right now – in, for example, cloud services, mobility, and big data. One technology that leverages all three to some extent is the tablet, a device I follow very closely.
Tablets drive worker productivity through a variety of vectors. One of those vectors is portability. In our Forrsights Hardware Survey, we asked IT decision-makers who either support tablets today or plan to support them soon why they would do so. IT decision-makers’ #1 answer, at 62%? Because tablets are a “more portable form factor than the traditional laptop.” This response eclipsed end user preferences, ease of use considerations, and other possible answers.
The recent Forrester SaaS for IT Service Management (ITSM) Market Overview has proved popular but I thought it wise to step back from its focus on SaaS for a moment to talk about “choice.” That is choice of delivery model for ITSM-enabling capabilities; both upfront and over time. You might argue that this is flexibility rather than choice; but to me it is choice – on-premises, SaaS, or maybe both. If you look at the figure below it’s not necessarily a question at the forefront of people’s minds when choosing a new tool, ITSM-enabling or otherwise:
While Price nestles snuggly behind Features and functions, the closest to choice is “Type of software deployment” sitting in seventh place at 44%. It’s good to see that what the tool does is far more important than the delivery model, it’s probably also indicative of the fact that on-premises as a delivery model is not going away.
IMO choice is important; in particular choice between delivery models and also choice over time. It’s also becoming an increasingly high-profile part of ITSM tool vendor selling and marketing/messaging “conversations.” FrontRange in particular has raised the stakes on choice in terms of coining a new term “Hybrid ITSM” and making it core to its value proposition.
How much would it cost to establish a taxi dispatching system in a city of 20 million people, with nearly 66,000 taxis jamming the roads? Consider that Singapore, with a population of about 5 million, has spent tens of millions of dollars to build a customized system with screens and sensors installed in almost every taxi and a large-scale call center to support it.
Now with the wide availability and affordability of smartphones, entirely new innovative approaches that are light on infrastructure can be employed to reduce cost and time-to-value. A good example is a mobile application recently launched in Beijing called Didi Taxi that works like this:
Passengers and drivers download the app. There are two versions, currently available on both iOS and Android. Drivers download the app to accept orders; passengers download the app to order taxis.
Passengers bid for taxis through their mobile phones. When a passenger opens the app, they see their current location on the map and the density of available taxis nearby based on the GPS tracking on both passengers’ and drivers’ devices. Passengers then use their voice to specify their exact location and destination, and — most importantly — how much extra on top of the metered fare they are willing to pay (normally ranging from $1 to $3).
Taxi drivers confirm the booking. The system automatically broadcasts the message to all nearby taxis (within either a 1 km or 2 km radius) based on the density of nearby taxi drivers using the app. The first driver to respond within 90 seconds will get the order. If no drivers respond, the message goes out again to all drivers in a larger radius.
I’d not been to Norway for 32 years (I’m now embarrassed to say), so I really didn’t know what to expect as I travelled to the annual itSMF Norway conference in Oslo last week. I certainly didn’t expect the high price of just about everything; and I wondered if I would get a true picture of Norway in an airport hotel (in Oslo) with over 600 IT and IT service management (ITSM) professionals.
Now this is where my blogging could get me into trouble (or even more trouble), as I make a few personal observations as well as ITSM observations. But please humor me – they are all said in a very positive manner as I wonder what I missed in the Norwegian-language sessions and what those outside of Norway miss everyday. I’ll also write a second blog to cover some of the valuable content as soon as I make time.
My initial observations …
Firstly – “Wow, over 600 attendees for a country the size of Norway.” According to Wikipedia, Norway has five million citizens. You can do the math (or, as I would say, “maths”) relative to other countries. We have 63 million citizens in the UK …
Earlier today I was fortunate enough to participate in a BrightTalk webinar on the future of IT service management (ITSM) with these fabulous gentlemen:
If you want to watch the webinar on demand it can be found here (you will need to register if you are new to BrightTalk). What you won’t get with the on demand webinar (I think) is the full set of audience poll results, so I've included them here.
What do Google's Gmail, Ericsson's #1 telecom switching systems and Southwest Airlines' Ticketless Passenger Travel all have in common? Yes, they're all spectacular business successes, but what most people don't know is that they're also the direct result of employees working on their own time to solve problems and innovate above and beyond their daily tasks.
Here's another perspective on this reality: What science knows and what business does are 2 different things. These words from a TED talk from Daniel Pink were echoing through my cranium as I polished off my second glass of my brother's famous 1000 calorie-a-glass eggnog last Christmas Eve. When an idea is intriguing enough to occupy my thoughts on Christmas, it's gotta be good.
What got me noodling about all of this was a few days before Christmas, I was asked to come up with ideas for our May Forum on how workforce computing can drive better customer outcomes, and Dan Pink's "Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us" which I was reading at the time gave me some fresh fuel to spark my synapses. Pink draws his inspiration from the work of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi - a former University of Chicago behavioral psychologist now at the Drucker Institute, famous for his work in uncovering the conditions necessary for people to be intrinsically motivated to do their best work.
So VMware is not afraid of the public cloud after all. With the announcement of a forthcoming (later in 2013) VMware vCloud Hybrid Service, the virtualization leader reboots its cloud message for the enterprise. VMware will offer its own public cloud infrastructure service built on the same technology stack it offers to vCloud Datacenter service provider partners. That includes the vSphere foundation and the vCloud Director (with vCloud Connector) multi-tenancy and on-boarding tools, plus vCloud Networking and Security. VMware will add on a new public-focused portal and additional provisioning tools, and promises to share those capabilities with service providers as well, but it's not yet clear how and where VMware will differentiate and compete. If VMware offers better access controls and financial management tools, for example, than its partners, on the same platform, why would the partners not look to an open source alternative? That’s certainly a risk.
Later this year, many of the established storage players will finally be adding Storage QoS (Quality of Service) functionality to their systems. Though startups such as SolidFire and NexGen Storage (and some platforms such as IBM's XIV) have been touting this functionality for a few years now, most storage systems today currently lack Storage QoS. If your primary storage vendor does not have Storage QoS on its roadmap, now is the time to start demanding it.
Normally, when I bring up the topic of Storage QoS with All-Flash Array startups or other high-end array vendors, the typical response I get is "We don't need Storage QoS. Our system is so fast - there are IOPS for everyone!" While this statement may or may not be true (it isn't!), even if a system had a seemingly infinite amount of performance, this would only solve part of the problem with storage performance provisioning. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you evaluate Storage QoS:
Sometimes you can only coax a reluctant partner and I&O customer community for so long before you feel you have to take matters into your own hands. That is exactly what VMware has decided to do to become relevant in the cloud platforms space. The hypervisor pioneer unveiled vCloud Hybrid Service to investors today in what is more a statement of intention than a true unveiling.
VMware's public cloud service — yep, a full public IaaS cloud meant to compete with Amazon Web Service,IBM SmartCloud Enterprise, HP Cloud, Rackspace, and others — won't be fully unveiled until Q2 2013, so much of the details about the service remain under wraps. VMware hired the former president for Savvis Cloud, Bill Fathers, to run this new offering and said it was a top three initiative for the company and thus would be getting "the level of investment appropriate to that priority and to capitalize on a $14B market opportunity," according to Matthew Lodge, VP of Cloud Services Product Marketing and Management for VMware, who spoke to us Tuesday about the pending announcement.