Meet Jamie - A HERO With The Power To Force Change

7:30 AM, on Monday, December 5th, 2011, flight 1052. As I took my seat in Southwest Airlines' "Business Class," otherwise known as the exit row, I gave a nod to my new seat mate and noticed his MacBook on the tray table. He was reading something on his iPad and set it down for a second to send a text message from his iPhone. Now there's a Kool-Aid connoisseur, I thought. "Going to Salt Lake or beyond?" I asked. "Salt Lake. Gotta visit some customers, and after that I have to go to Boise to train our western region sales team."

And so the conversation began. I learned that his name is Jamie, he is in sales, travels every week, loves his job and his company, and is the top sales performer. $3M in quota last year and his secret sauce is knowing his customers' businesses better than they do, and delivering value with every interaction. He said, "Last week I had a meeting with a new prospect for the first time, and they couldn't believe I showed up without slides, and we spent the meeting talking about their situation instead of throwing up all over them about what we do."  Jamie is a HERO. His world revolves around delivering customer value, and he has neither the time nor the patience for anything that gets in the way.

Naturally, I asked him some questions about his MacBook Air and the applications he uses. His answers, while fascinating, echo what I hear from many others like him:

Q: How do you like your MacBook Air?
A: I love it.
Q: Does your company issue those or is that one yours?
A: Hell no! It's mine! They gave me a huge Dell.
Q: Where is it?
A: It's in the closet at home, still in the bag.
Q: Does your company support the Mac?

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HP Folio Ultrabook: A Happy Meal For The Road Warrior

Enterprise laptops are on the shopping list for many I&O professionals I speak with every week, with some asking if Netbooks are the antidote to the MacBook Air for their people. Well, on the menu of enterprise laptops, I think of Netbooks as an appetizer -- inexpensive, but after an hour my stomach is growling again. Garden-variety ultraportables on the other hand are like a turkey sandwich -- everything I need to keep me going, but they make me sleepy halfway through the afternoon.

Ultrabooks are a new class of notebook promoted by Intel and are supposed to be a little more like caviar and champagne -- light and powerful, but served on business-class china with real silverware and espresso. At least that's what I took away after being briefed by Intel on the topic. I had the chance to sample HP's new Ultrabook fare in San Francisco a few weeks ago while they were still in the test kitchen, and it seems they took a little different approach. Not bad, just different.

It struck me that rather than beluga and Dom Perignon , HP has created more of a Happy Meal -- a tasty cheeseburger and small fries with a Diet Coke, in a lightweight, easy to carry package for a bargain price. It has everything the road warrior needs to get things done, and like a Happy Meal, they can carry it on the plane and set it on the tray table…even if the clown in front of them reclines. Folio offers the Core i5-2467M processor, 4GB RAM, a 13.3" LED display and a 128GB SSD storage, a 9-hour battery and USB 3.0 + Ethernet ports as highlights, all for $900. It's a true bargain. I think I will call it the McUltrabook.

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Did Hell Freeze Over? Not Yet, But It's Getting Cold!

A couple of weeks ago, I proposed that I&O Professionals should repeal Mac prohibition and find ways to empower employees who are choosing Macs in increasing numbers and bringing them to the office. This was based on fresh 2011 research with Forrester clients, vendors and survey respondents, and concluded that not only were the numbers of Macs in enterprises increasing rapidly, but that the people choosing their own technology for the office, are often the highest performers.

Philip Elmer-DeWitt of Fortune's Apple 2.0 picked it up right away and made a very astute observation: that Forrester's stance on Macs in the enterprise had seemingly flip-flopped. His conclusion was based on a 2007 Forrester report on enterprise desktop trends in which Forrester observed: "Macs can be ignored for all but niche business groups." The conclusion was based on the data of the time, which showed Microsoft's enterprise desktop market share at 95%, but also noted that Apple's had doubled. We also observed in the same report that "Microsoft is not innovating," and "Vista is having a tough time in enterprises," based on data which showed slow uptake of Windows Vista and Internet Explorer 7.

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Ready, Fire, Aim! With Client Virtualization, Are You As Ready As You Think?

Michael Masterson's book "Ready, Fire, Aim" is one of my favorites. Masterson, a serial entrepreneur who has built dozens of businesses, some to $100 million in revenue and beyond, explains that the biggest determiner between success and failure is how quickly we get going and execute…even if the plan isn't perfect. Spot on!

But, Masterson also takes great care to explain how critical (and often misunderstood) being truly "ready" is, and that "firing" without actually being ready is as bad as if not worse than delaying for perfection. So what do we do? Where do we draw the line when it comes to projects like client virtualization, with hundreds of moving parts, politics galore, and very little objective, unbiased information available?

Answer: The winners will get going today…now...and will get ready by talking to the people their work will ultimately serve, and learn enough about their needs and the technology and best practices to avoid the mistakes most likely to result in failure -- knowledge that they will acquire in less than 90 days. The fire process starts the moment they make an investment in new people or technology, and the aiming process continues through the life cycle of the service, steadily improving in value, effectiveness, and efficiency.

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End User Computing Predictions for 2012: Civil Disobedience Escalates - Part 1

Sedition is simmering in the halls of corporations the world over, as the thirst for productivity and new tools grows faster than IT organizations can quench it with supply. 2012 promises to be the most transformative year for end user computing since the release of the IBM PC in 1981. The escalation of 4 trends - each individually interesting but together explosive, will bring phase changes in the way Highly Empowered and Resourceful Operatives work, and offer previously captive employees new options for productive freedom by this time next year.

  1. As in IT revolutions past, on the front lines are restless high-performers (executives, technology pros and creatives), whose nature drives them to push the limits of themselves, their tools, and their support networks, and bring their own technology to the office when their employers won't provide it. More employees will bring their own computer to the office than ever before in 2012 - most of them Macs - and if IT won't support them, they'll find another way that doesn't include IT.
  2. Cloud-based applications and services such as Dropbox and Projectplace are convincing these folks that they can get better results faster, without IT involved. And these services are priced at a point where it's cheaper than a few skinny soy chai lattes (no whip!) every week, so many employees just pay the tab themselves.
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The Revenge Of The Politburo! One Company's Quest For Soviet-esque Virtual Desktop Infrastructure

The Politburo is making a comeback
Winston Churchill described Soviet-era politics as a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. It came to mind recently as I was engaged in a conversation with an I&O professional who works for a US-based company, and he needed help. Seems his executives had decided that due to two data breaches over the past year from stolen hard drives, that the new Central Committee policy should be to have everyone use a locked down virtual desktop, no matter their role or workstyle. It was hard for me to conjure up a picture of the profound lack of understanding that led to such a misguided policy, though images of nondescript buildings, row after row of undifferentiated cubicles, and Gulag-style productivity quotas came quickly to mind. Had he not been on the other end of a telephone line, he could've knocked me over with a feather.

Big vendors are using top party relationships to push huge pork-barrel deals under the banner of security and mobility

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What Fine Whisky Can Teach Us As End User Computing Professionals

When Something Is So Good, It's Hard To Imagine It Will Ever Be Matched
The famous connoisseur Jim Murray said of the 1974 Ardbeg Provenance: "This is the finest whisky I have ever tasted. As close to perfection as makes no difference." Ever notice that every once in a while, something comes along in which it seems heaven, earth and the stars were aligned? It's as if all of the ingredients came together to create something so amazing, it's hard to imagine it could ever be matched.

Microsoft Excel Is IT's Answer To The 1974 Ardbeg Provenance
I felt this way when I used Microsoft Excel in 1996. At the time I was a geologist responsible for accurately steering an oil drilling bit 3,000 meters below the surface of a Montana farm field. With Excel and the magical help of John Walkenbach's advanced Excel programming books, I could create a graphical representation of the well bore's profile from downhole telemetry data, condensed so that the drillers and I could easily see which way the bit was going thanks to Excel's charting functions and some tricky Visual Basic wizardry. It seemed there was nothing that Excel could not do.

Used In Ways The Designers Never Imagined
I am certain that the designers of Excel never envisioned that use case (I know this because one of the original product managers is a former colleague and we talked about it), but the product was so functional that a skilled user could make it do virtually anything. It saved us literally days of drilling at $30,000 per day because we could see so much more easily what was going on beneath our feet. We could drill a well an average of 20% faster than our competitors - a significant advantage when at the time the price of oil was so low, that the profit from the wells would take 5 years or more to be realized.

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It's Not About Apple vs. Microsoft, Or Apple vs. Google. It's About Freedom.

We are learning once again that what people want most is to be free
John Quincy Adams (sixth President of the US) said: "Who but shall learn that freedom is the prize…and on the oppressor's head to break the chain." Glorious change. Monumental change. Empowerment and Freedom. I submit humbly but with absolute conviction to all of you that we are in the midst of revolution in personal computing - the extent of which we will only fully comprehend once it's over, and established vendors and IT leaders alike are scattered on the side of the road.

It's not about Microsoft vs. Apple or Google vs. Apple. It's about freedom. Freedom from control. Freedom from establishments. Freedom of identity. Freedom from IT departments too understaffed and ill-equipped to help. Freedom from layers of management agents and miscellaneous junk that sap minutes to hours of productive time from our lives every day. The price of compliance and security you say? Hogwash.

End user experience is at an all-time low
The end user experience has deteriorated to the point that we sit and wait while the hourglass spins, as IT's remote bots take inventory, or install software updates while we're frantically trying to get our slides together for a customer meeting. The mindless bots scan for threats and lock the cursor while we're trying to write an e-mail, and we get embarrassing pop-up reminders while we're presenting to rooms full of people to make sure we know to update Adobe Acrobat. We're as mad as hell, and we're not going to take it any more! Who gave someone the right to assume that what their tool needs to do at any given moment is more important than the work we have to get done?

High performers are being hanged for taking matters into their own hands

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The Pit Of Despair Called Seat 54F, The MacBook Air, And Why People Are Bringing Them To Work

Most I&O professionals travel far less than the road warriors they serve, which means they could be missing an important personal connection with new forms of client computing. After years of lugging boat anchor-class laptops around and a broken shoulder from a skiing accident, I gave in last month and bought a new MacBook Air (yup, 13", i7, 4GB, 256GB SSD), and then spent the next month's worth of weekends getting it to work for my job. Here's why I did it, and why people in your firm are doing it too:

"Veev been vaiting for you," the Frau at the front of the 747 hissed as I stepped through the door with a sweat stain on my shirt roughly the shape of Alaska. Those of you who fly frequently on Star Alliance carriers may have noticed that Lufthansa is the only one that doesn't seem to care who you think you are on any other airline. I could be George Clooney (see "Up in the Air") with 10 million miles and a gold card from the chief pilot, and I'd still have to sit in a center seat -- 54F -- in the last row. No matter, it's where I always get to meet fun people like Ginny -- the wisecracking 101 year old grandmother from Wyoming, and Jim -- the head of desktop infrastructure for a large retail chain, who later became a customer.

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