Apple just announced its media tablet (we coined these things mobile media tablets in 2005 in private client conversations and ) amidst much excitement and surprisingly little secrecy. There wasn't much if anything in the announcement that the bloggers hadn't anticipated.
This product will appear in 60 days with WiFi and in 90 days unlocked with AT&T data plan for $629 and $29/month. It will catch on quickly as an employee-provisioned third device, particularly for Mobile Professionals, 28% of the workforce. IT will support it in many organizations. After all, it's just a big iPhone to them and already 20% of firms support them.
Most of the media coverage will discuss the impact on consumer markets. I'm going to talk about the impact on businesses and on information & knowledge management professionals, the IT executive responsible for making the workforce successful with technology.
Make no mistake, this is an attractive business tool. Laptops will be left at home.
One thing's for sure, Apple knows how to time the market. And the market it's timed this time around is an important one: information workers self-provisioning what they need rather than what their employers provide. We have called this trend Technology Populism(AKA consumerization of IT), and it's important enough that we're writing a book called Groundswell Heroes about how to harness it.
That call may surprise you. You might have put storage or Gigabit ethernet or the Internet itself at the top of the list. But when I think about what's different in the life of your average information worker as the decade comes to a close, it's the instant-on access to just about everything that the adoption of consumer broadband has fueled.
From our Consumer Technographics(r) survey of over 50,000 consumers every year for the last 12 years, between 2000 and 2009, consumer broadband soared from 2% to 63% of US households. For context, home PC adoption grew from 51% to 77%.
But why is consumer broadband the workforce technology of the decade? Three main reasons:
1. Telecommuting has become a way of life for xx million information workers. We have been watching -- and forecasting -- the growth of telecommuting. The impact is immediate and obvious: more hours to work; more location flexibility in hiring and retaining; and more work-life control. Telecommuting in the US is dependent on cheap broadband to the home. Telecommuters will rise to include 43% of the US information workforce by 2016.
2. Broadband-enabled markets have triggered massive IT innovation. Google; Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia, and LinkedIn; WebEx, ZoHo, and Smartsheets.com; Amazon EC2, Google App Engine; and Windows Azure; open source and Web 2.0. All of these and thousands of other technologies and companies are built on the back of broadband to the home. The network innovation over the last 10 years makes the Internet 1.0 era look like a pre-season warmup game.
Pal Henry Dewing and I heard yesterday from IBM's Rob Ingram about Lotus Sametime 8.5, the real-time collaboration product available on December 22. Lotus Sametime is the client/server product that first made enterprise instant messaging a global possibility back in 1998.
This dot release is IBM's first major overhaul of its real-time messaging product in three years. (My take is that IBM kept the 8.x version number to align it with the current Notes/Domino version.) For those firms that understand the power of real-time collaboration tools -- the ability to get an immediate answer, hold a virtual ad hoc meeting, or ping someone without bothering them with a phone call -- this product is an important upgrade.
Why? Because it's got the core elements of click-to-conference -- not just instant messaging and presence -- baked into it. And for ad hoc collaboration, click-to-conference is a much richer and easier thing to do than loading up separate applications for instant messaging, video conferencing, and Web conferencing.
I think of click-to-conference is "the ability to have an ad hoc meeting supported with rich media whenever you are online." It includes these elements:
One click to send out an invitation via instant messaging.
Do you truly understand your workforce and what they need from technology? Hint, it's a loaded question. You might think so, but you'd probably be wrong. They're not like you. Not at all.
We weren't sure, either, which is why we surveyed 2,001 US information workers -- people that use computers in their jobs to find out what technology they use and what they need to be successful in their jobs.
We discovered something that consumer market researchers have known for generations: Not everybody needs or wants the same stuff. So we drew on our decade of experience with quantitative analysis and created a segmentation that highlights the differences between employees based on their need for location flexibility (mobility) and their application use:
Location flexibility, a.k.a., mobility -- drives differences in the need for smartphones, wireless networks, collaboration tools, and telecommuting support.
Application use drives differences in social computing, consumerization of IT, and tolerance for virtual desktops.
How do information workers -- people that use computers or smartphones in their job -- spend their days?
We set out to answer that question using our new Workforce Technographics(R) data. In our launch survey to understand how regular people use computers, smartphones, and applications to get their work done, we surveyed 2,001 people in the US with jobs in which they use a computer. We asked about all kinds of things, including how much time they spend with their computers and phones, which applications they use daily or even hourly, what applications they find indispensable, whether they work mostly with other employees or with customers or partners, and much more.
Our first report is a quick snapshot of a day in the life of an information worker (iWorker). (We'll be sharing a lot more data at a Webinar on Thursday at 11 AM ET; register here.)For example, did you know that:
Gen X (not Gen Y) is the most likely to use Web 2.0 technology to get their job done?
Smartphones are available to only 11% of US information workers?
Email is still the only application used on an hourly basis by most iWorkers?
Employees are people, too.They just don't look like you. At least most of them don't. To understand what your workforce needs from technology and from you, you have to walk a mile in their shoes.
That's hard to do -- not to mention darn uncomfortable at times! But it is possible to get to know your workforce by grouping them by who they are and what they need from you. There are three techniques that consumer market researchers have developed over the last 40 years to do just that:
Surveys to analyze and segment the workforce. This is step one and something that we'll drill into more detail on over the next few blog posts. Asking good questions, making sure everybody's represented, doing analysis that helps you answer your key questions, this is where the best analysis begins. You'll come up with segments like "technology enthusiasts" and "road warriors."
Focus groups to bring the segments to life. Once the segments are identified, you can invite 5 or 6 people to come in and talk about what they do and what they need from technology. This gives you the "why" and the "how" to go along with the "what" that the survey and segmentation provide. With focus groups, a road warrior starts to look like a real person.
Go to a baseball game and look around. Do the fans all look like you? Do they want what you want or think how you think or feel the way you feel about stuff? Nope. Baseball fans are diverse, unique, different, special. They have only one thing in common: They like baseball.
It's the same at work. Your workforce is just as diverse, unique, different, special. They have only one thing in common: They work for the same organization.
It's a simple but profound observation: Most people aren't like you. You can't apply your own thinking or feeling to them. For example, they don't necessarily like technology. They might avoid technology because it scares or mystifies them. They could stick with what they know until someone forces them to switch.
Need proof? Half of all information workers are pessimistic about technology. Only 1 in 4 uses instant messaging. 62% aren't fully satisfied with their word processor.
On the other hand, the other half of information workers are optimistic about technology. And some employees are wildly enthusiastic about technology. They bring their own smartphones to work -- and use them to work from every location. They use social network sites for work. They spends hours each day in love with their work devices and tools.
But which employees are enthusiastic and which are reluctant users of technology? After all, they aren't all in one job function or business group. The list of questions goes on:
How can you be sure your software licenses aren't money wasted?