Where Does Windows 8.1 Stand With Enterprises And Users?

JP Gownder

Since the original release of Windows 8 on October 26, 2012, the operating system has benefitted from two major updates — Windows 8.1 (in October, 2013) and the Update to Windows 8.1 (in April, 2014). With these updates, Microsoft sought to address a variety of user concerns and feedback, including some major revisions to the user interface. In the latest update, Microsoft has introduced some useful new features like the ability to right-click from the Start Screen:

We've just released a new report assessing the status of the Update to Windows 8.1 and what it means for enterprises. Whoa — hold on, you might say: Isn't Windows 7 the enterprise standard now? Does Windows 8.1 matter to the enterprise at all?

Indeed, Windows 7 remains the enterprise standard; most enterprises have only recently weaned themselves fully off of XP. But Windows 8.1 does matter in the enterprise, for several reasons:

  • Infrastructure buyers are interested in Windows 8.1 devices. In more than 50 recent inquiries with Forrester, clients asked about laptop replacement scenarios for Windows 8 devices. I&O pros tell Forrester that they like the idea of deploying replacement devices that are two-in-one laptop replacements — that is, devices used both for mobile tablet scenarios and then back at the desk with a mouse and a keyboard. 2-in-1 can conceivably save them money; rather than buying a laptop and a tablet, they like the idea of providing one device that can fill both purposes. They also cite manageability, the ability to domain-join the devices, legacy application compatibility, and other reasons for their interest.
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Salesforce Wear Aims To Turbo-Charge Both Enterprise And B2B2C Wearables Markets

JP Gownder

On June 10, Salesforce.com announced Salesforce Wear, a bundle of free tools and reference applications aimed at evangelizing the power of enterprise wearables. The offering supports six different wearable devices, each with its own open-source reference application to help developers design and build wearable apps that connect to the Salesforce1 platform.

Salesforce Wear has the potential to turbo-charge the growing market for enterprise wearables. Enterprises using Salesforce Wear will gain tools and reference applications that immediately apply to six wearable devices: three smart watches (Pebble, Samsung Gear, and Android Wear), plus Google Glass, the Myo armband, and Bionym’s Nymi authentication device.

Some of the reference applications are pure enterprise/B2B workforce enablement applications, like the Google Glass application for oil rigs, which can be generalized to other field service scenarios (and which, conceptually, I have written about before). Salesforce Wear’s app facilitates real-time field actions by providing schematics of the equipment being serviced, offering a view into the full service history of the equipment, and connecting field workers to colleagues for real-time collaboration. All in all, the reference app helps field workers fix problems more quickly and effectively.

Salesforce Wear's Casino Reference Application with the Bionym Nymi Band. Source: Salesforce

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Microsoft's New Surface Makes A Strong Case For Device Consolidation

JP Gownder

Yesterday, Microsoft released the Surface Pro 3, a 12" touchscreen device billed as "the tablet that can replace your laptop." Sporting some hard-core computing bona fides (including Intel processors and Windows 8.1) and new innovations (like an active stylus that activates note-taking outside of the lock screen), the device in its third generation offers a new level of mobility despite having a larger screen than its predecessors in the Surface line. It's worth taking a look at:

Microsoft designed the Surface Pro 3 with a variety of seemingly incremental improvements that, once assembled in the same device, make it surprisingly innovative. In fact, you should think about it as quite a departure from the earlier Surface models. With this product, Microsoft makes its best yet argument for device consolidation for the workforce, potentially allowing some workers to stop carrying separate laptop and tablet devices in favor of Pro 3. For consumers, the Surface Pro 3 doesn't act as a substitute for popular 8" form factor tablets, but it might make for a good laptop replacement.

That's not to say it's (to quote the cliche) any sort of "iPad killer"; the starting price of a Surface Pro 3 is higher than the iPad's starting price. It's more like a successor to the laptop -- but one that takes mobility quite seriously. Altogether, it's likely to be popular among prosumers, BYOD consumers, and perhaps some other segments.

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iPhone Up, iPad Down: What Apple's Device Mix Says About Mobile Devices

JP Gownder

Apple's reported earnings revealed a strong product mix contrast: iPhone sales increased 17% in units and 14% in revenues, while iPad sales decreased 16% in units and 13% in revenues. What accounts for this contrast? Is the iPad's growth trajectory broken?

Simply put, the iPhone's addressable market has only continued to increase with Apple's continued international expansion. Only recently, for example, has Apple broken out in Japan (still the world's third-largest economy); only a few months after releasing the 5S and 5C across all three of Japan's largest carriers, iPhone models made up 9 of the top 10 phones sold. And for iPhone, unlike iPad, the route to sales comes through carrier relationships -- of which Apple has landed more recently.

By contrast, the iPad's year-over-year results lagged because:

  • Price competition in tablets has been fierce. With Android tablets under $200 now commonplace -- including Samsung's Galaxy Tab 3 and Amazon Kindle Fire HDX -- Apple's premium pricing is catching up to it. 
  • Replacement rates are lower than expected. Why are prices catching up to iPad now? Because replacement rates haven't been as quick as with iPhone. The pace at which people purchase smartphones is quicker than that of iPads, even among the Apple faithful. This means that Apple is seeking an ever expanding market -- people without tablets. For later adopters, who didn't see the big deal early on, price matters more than for earlier adopters.
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Why Infrastructure Will Drive The Retail Store Experiences Of The Future

JP Gownder

The Infrastructure and Operations (I&O) role is changing significantly: I&O pros are increasingly helping to drive business strategies with the technologies they choose and implement. Business leaders tell Forrester that technology is too important to leave to technology managers alone; they are pushing their I&O colleagues to explore the business value associated with the technologies they choose, implement, and manage. I&O pros, in turn, tell us that their jobs are changing. As one I&O pro put it, “I’ve been an infrastructure manager for 15 years, but only in the past 3 have I been asked to construct a business plan and be part of the business planning team.”

Figure: Burberry's Technology-Powered Flagship Store In London

For I&O pros in retail and related verticals like hospitality (or for anyone involved in creating in-person experiences), we’ve just released a report to help aid this transition. Along with my co-author Michele Pelino, we’ve just released the report “Infrastructure Will Drive The Retail Store Experiences Of The Future.” The report asserts that I&O pros have an important role to play in helping their companies engage shoppers in experiences that will drive loyalty and spending.

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Google Aims For More Eyeballs With VSP Deal

JP Gownder

Google, the online search superpower, has for years sought to maximize "eyeballs" -- in search marketing, a colloquial term for ad impressions viewed online.

Lately, though, Google's been going after a new kind of eyeballs. The literal kind.

Hot off of its announcement of a future product roadmap for smart contact lenses, Google today announced a partnership with VSP -- the largest optical health insurance provider in the United States -- for Google Glass. The New York Times quoted me saying, "the key business model of the year for wearables is becoming embedded into the health care system." By injecting wearables into health care:

  • The addressable market expands. VSP serves 59 million members with vision care insurance. 
  • Costs go down. VSP will offer subsidized frames and prescription lenses tailored to Google Glass. Some VSP members save additional money on purchases with pre-tax payroll deductions for the money they spend on optical care.
  • Credibility goes up. By coordinating with opticians and opthamologists, Google Glass can be recognized as consistent with healthy optical practices.
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Wearables 2.0 at CES 2014: Richer Business Models And Enterprise Relevance

JP Gownder

Las Vegas – Hello from the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2014, an industry gathering point for technology vendors, retailers, partners, media, and industry analysts. Like many, I’m here to meet with the innovators, witness demonstrations, and assess the state of the technology industry in 2014 (and beyond).

As they were at last year’s conference, wearables will be a very hot topic at CES 2014. But in the fast-moving world of technology, a year is a long time. In 2014, wearables will graduate to their 2.0 state. To understand this 2.0 iteration, Forrester released two new reports that clients can read and download. The first is an overarching view of the enterprise aspect of wearable technology, The Enterprise Wearables Journey. The second focuses on wearable health, Building A Fitter Business With Wearable Technology. Let me offer a sneak peak into why Wearables 2.0 is a critical topic.

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Predictions for 2014: Computing Technologies In The Age Of The Customer

JP Gownder

I've published a report for Forrester clients, "Predictions 2014: Mobility and Computing Technologies in the Age of the Customer." This blog post offers a sneak peak into the content.

With 2013 coming to an end, it’s time to bring out the crystal ball and make some predictions about 2014. Those who follow Forrester’s research will know that we’re living in the age of the customer, a period in which customer obsession will be the key to winning in all markets. Computing is a critical technology element in the age of the customer: The use of tablets by sales professionals creates richer experiences for prospects and customers, even as the use of wearable technologies by health professionals helps phlebotomists find the vein in a patient’s arm more quickly. Computing is a front-line, customer facing experience that helps companies win and serve customers more effectively.

With that context in mind, I present six meta-trends that will be critical for computing in 2014:

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Driving Technologies That Will Delight Customers

JP Gownder

Businesses that thrive and grow in the age of the customer are obsessed with customer delight: the most successful companies are reinventing themselves to systematically understand and serve increasingly powerful customers. This business reality creates new imperatives for everyone inside an organization, and infrastructure & operations (I&O) professionals are not immune. So the question becomes, how does I&O participate in the transformation of the enterprise toward customer obsession?

The answer to this question is important, because technology's role in business is rapidly changing -- from a world in which Information Technology (IT) enabled a company to function more efficiently, to a world of Business Technology (BT), which we define as technology, systems, and processes to win, serve, and retain customers. Yet customer-facing technologies aren't always (or even often) the traditional role of I&O. So how can I&O participate?

How about starting with a simple dictum? Spend more time on technologies that will inspire and delight customers, either directly or indirectly. To start this journey, I'd like you to watch this short video of how a digital billboard has gone viral:

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How Voice Controlled Intelligent Agents Can Reshape Computing

JP Gownder

Apple's Siri for iPhone and iPad, Google Now for Android, Samsung S-Voice for its Android phones and tablets, and Microsoft's Xbox/Bing voice command have all played a role in popularizing the use of voice control. Forrester’s workforce survey reveals that 37% of information workers who have smartphones say they use voice command at least occasionally. So voice control is already a mass-market behavior.

But users haven’t truly embraced voice control just yet: Only 3% of information workers say they "use it all the time," while only 1% claim it's their "preferred way to use a phone." When they do use voice control, it’s for short-task computing activities like sending a text, conducting a quick search, or activating maps and navigation. As of today, voice control remains a nice-to-have, an adjunct to “real” computing interfaces.

But in a new Forrester report published today, we argue that voice control itself isn’t the main story. Rather, it’s about the new breed of data-rich intelligence – which we call intelligent agents – that will bring voice control to the masses.

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