Enough Already With The "Death Of The PC Era" Garbage

(updated 10:10 ET 4/11/2013 for clarity)

The Death Of The PC Era. Pah.

As my friend John McCarthy is fond of saying, "that does not qualify as analysis." PCs, like cars and shoes and dishwashers, are here to stay. However, it is true that PC shipment numbers will decline or be stagnant as people fill out their multi-device toolkits. And some markets may never see the personal computer dominate as it has done in the industrial nations. But few people will abandon their computers altogether.

Let's start with some data and facts:

  • Two thirds of US consumers go online from 2 or more devices, including multiple computers in many cases.
  • 53% of global information workers use 3 or more devices for work. Computers (often two of them) are front and center in this statistic.
  • Computers wear out. Just as cars and shoes and dishwashers do. Intel & Microsoft brilliantly played a planned obsolescence game for decades: Bigger software needed bigger chips, which ran bigger software. Intel & Microsoft made billions. People got better tools. But even without this planned obsolescence, computers get tired.
  • People want the best tool for the job. Typing a blog, running a spreadsheet model, creating a presentation, closing the books, surfing the Internet are all (still) easier on a computer than a tablet, LapPhablet, smartphone, or TV. (Though checking for rain showers with Dark Skies or playing Words with Friends is better on a mobile device.)
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Enough Already With The LapPhablet Straddle -- The Future Is About Specialized Devices

Mature markets thrive because of specialization, not in spite of it. Think of shoes. How many pairs do you own? How many do you really need? Or kitchen pots. How many pots do you own? How many do you need? Or cars. How many different types are out there? How many do we really need?

The answer is, as many as they want to make. We want specialty shoes because there's a real difference between road biking shoes and mountain biking shoes. Between brown shoes and cordovan shoes and black shoes. Between dress shoes and party shoes. And those differences matter. Riding 35 miles in your dress shoes makes no sense.

And we want the best pot for the polenta or risotto or Bolognese we're making. We want the car that best suits the way we drive and live and schlep stuff. We want the right tool for the job. The same is true for computers or tablets or smartphones. We want the right tool for the job.

Source: Hallomall.com

When you show me a spork or a rubber soled dress shoe or an El Camino, I think, "that's neither spoon nor fork, neither practical nor dressy, neither car nor truck." So when you show me Windows 8 on the new Dell XPS 12, I think spork, not specialized. It's a straddle. And straddles don't win.

The future of devices (call it post-PC if you like; I just think of it as the right tool for the job) is specialized: the right tool for the job, and a steady evolution to the right tool. The logic is simple:

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What Is Your Mobile Engagement Communications Strategy? A List Of Symptoms & Request For Help.

In our research and in our work with clients on their mobile intiatives, one problem comes up again and again: the very people the app is designed for don't know what it does or why they should use it. Here are some symptoms of a communications gap -- and they show up just as frequently in employee projects as they do in customer initiatives:

  • Your target audience doesn't know why they should use the app you've given them.
  • Your call center or help desk is inundated with basic questions.
  • Your key stakeholders are forever pinging you to find out what's going on.
  • People in the company don't know what you've been up to.
  • You don't know what your target audience really needs from the app.
  • When people get a new or updated app, they don't use the new features.

If any of these ring true for you, then it's time to implement or re-evaluate your communications strategy. We'd like to help, which is why we are initiating a research project into communications strategy for your mobile initiatives. My colleague Simon Yates and I are diving into this important topic to publish new research findings to help you build the most effective communications strategy.

You can help us by completing a short survey on your own communications strategy. You'll get a summary of the results and can ask for a conversation if you want to dig deeper with us.

Thanks for filling out this 3-minute survey on your communications strategy!

Skype + Lync and Microsoft Skype President Tony Bates' Coming Out Party

Sadly, I'm not in San Diego this week to hear Tony Bates' keynote coming out speech in person. (Well, happily, actually, as I'm skiing with family in Vermont -- great snow today!)

But I do have context on this announcement as I've been analyzing both the consumerization brand, Skype, and the enterprise brand, Lync, for years now. When Microsoft did the Skype deal going on two years ago, I posted on Microsoft's opportunity to bring Skype values to Lync customers and deployments as it has acquired a consumerization brand, a cloud service to sell, and a chance to do B2B communications properly.

At a glance from afar, it looks as if almost two years later, Microsoft under Microsoft Skype president, Bates, has kept its eye on this prize. What I see from Vermont is that Microsoft is in fact:

  • Re-humanizing business communications, a good and much-needed thing. (Okay, I like the phrase re-humanizing. It must stem from having played rock n' roll fulltime in the Police-laden "rehumanize yourself"'80s.) If people can't easily use the tools, then they won't bother. This is the essense of consumerization: people using readily available and affordable technology on their own to get work done. Microsoft appears to be understanding and focusing on the consumerization values of Skype. We'll wait to see the Lync-meets-Skype experience, but it sounds good on paper, anyway.
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Why CIOs Must Care About New API Management Platforms. Hint, It's About Mobile Apps.

Thanks to the good work of my colleagues Eve Maler and Jeffrey Hammond, we have a new Forrester Wave on API Management Platforms, including evaluations of Layer 7, Mashery, WSO2, Intel, IBM, Vordel, and 3Scale. I won't spill the beans on the leaders, but I will share some of their analysis with my own interpretation to explain why you must care. First, let's define API management platforms as:

Middleware that developers use to publish and configure interfaces and that applications use at runtime to connect to the data services they need.

Here's why API management platforms matter:

  1. As you build mobile apps for customers, partners, and employees, you need apps that perform well over the last wireless mile. And that means you need a great, RESTful API that provides design-time and runtime access to data services hosted by your on-premises applications. Think of it as "cloud-connect" technology that lets the data inside your datacenter get out and back (securely) to the mobile app that needs it. As mobile apps get more and more transactional, the need for API management platforms will become even more critical.
     
  2. You are just getting going on the number, breadth, and complexity of the data service APIs you will need to build and operate. As mobile apps get interesting, with transactions, integrated applications, and more and better content and collaboration, you will need solutions that handle all those integration points. Think of it this way: RESTful interfaces give you the means, but now you need a system to handle the sheer number of APIs you are and will be building.
     
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BlackBerry Z10: Beautiful Phone, Good Experience, Missing Apps, Playing Serious Catchup . . .

The Z10 is a beautiful device: designers Todd Wood, Don Lindsay, and their teams have done a great job with the industrial design, the swipe-rich interaction gestures, and a whole lot more. The Z10 is a pleasure to hold, to swipe, and to carry around in a suit pants pocket.

Here are my favorite bits:

  • Thin, light, elegant, executive, with a holdable form factor and case.
  • The keyboard, with its predictive word look up and "flip into place" word completion is a pleasure for this thick-thumbed, fumble-finger typer.
  • Swipe gestures, including peeking into the inbox, the slow swipe to home position, and the pulldown configuration are a pleasure to use one-handed.
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7 Mobile Engagement Pitfalls To Avoid: And 7 Mobile-First Alternatives

Mobile apps have the thorny problem of needing to work spectacularly and safely on any device over the last wireless mile. Systems integrators, interactive agencies, software vendors, and your own infrastructure and application development teams will pitch you endlessly on technology to handle these problems. Some of these technology solutions will be great. But others carry traps for the unwary. In our new report, we call out 7 pitfalls and describe 7 mobile-first alternatives that are better.

One big trap lurking in most firms’ mobile strategy is using MDM to indiscriminately lock down devices. The temptation to replicate the BlackBerry era will backfire. Remember that RIM’s controls is partly what spurred employees and executives to defect to iPhones. If you lock mobile devices down too tightly, you will be pummeled for putting a theoretical concern for information security ahead of usability and the practical reality of a productive mobile workforce. If people can’t immediately get what they need, they’ll leave the phone in their pocket.

Figure 1: 7 Pitfalls To Avoid

Print out this list of pitfalls and their alternatives and tape it your monitor. Or blow it up and post it in your mobile center of excellence. Here are two pitfalls for everybody to avoid:

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The Mobile Power Shift Will Accelerate In 2013

Happy New Year! I love holidays because the fog of daily work lifts and important things become clearer. This year, over Christmas, what became suddenly and sparkingly clear is that mobile’s biggest impact is that it shifts power away from institutions and toward individuals. People have a huge advantage when they carry the full power of the Internet and Internet-delivered services in their pockets.

The only question is whether you shift power to customers and employees willingly (and to benefit your company) or whether a disrupter or competitor does it for you. To develop your intution of just how powerful mobile apps make you — and just how much you’ve come to take them for granted — imagine yourself in a room with 30 strangers listening to my colleague Thomas Husson.

Thomas opens the presentation with these words: “Pull your smartphone out of your pocket. [Pause.] Now unlock it. [Pause.] Now hand it to the person next to you.” You immediately feel tense and uncomfortable as you wonder if you should really hand your unlocked phone to a stranger . . . or even a friend or family member. A few people actually do hand their phones over, albeit reluctantly. Thomas then breaks the tension with a chuckle and the room titters with nervous laughter. Two things just happened:

  • First, you realized that you were being asked to hand everything that defines you to a total stranger. Your most intimate and empowering things would be someone else’s. Your bank accounts, your friends, your photos, your shopping list, your email, your documents, your sense of self. You would be handing your identity to a stranger.
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Minnesota IT Bolstered Cross-Agency Collaboration With Microsoft Office 365

 

This case study is from TJ Keitt's and my social business playbook report, “The Road To Social Business Starts With A Burning Platform.” A social business uses technology to work efficiently using a common collaboration platform -- without being constrained by server availability or storage capacity. Here’s the story.

If you've already consolidated dozens of email systems from every vendor and era onto a single managed instance of Exchange 2007, made the shift to support 70 or more state agencies by operating as an ISP, and crunched 20 SharePoint instances down to a single scalable data center, what else is there to do? After all, you've already achieved a high state of IT operational efficiency and process optimization.

If you are Ed Valencia, CTO and Deputy Commissioner, and Tarek Tomes, Customer and Service Management, Assistant Commissioner, the State of Minnesota’s IT department (MN.IT), you step back and ask, “Has what we’ve done really helped the business communicate and collaborate efficiently and effectively?” They knew they could do more by moving their collaboration workloads into the cloud.

So they took a gamble that Microsoft's Office 365 Dedicated offering was ready for the State of Minnesota. Office 365 Dedicated has opened new doors for people throughout the State of Minnesota government. Agencies can collaborate with one another because the common collaboration platform integrates the disparate directories of the different government entities. For example, the Governor can send a message to every agency in the executive branch through this common platform.

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Kindred Healthcare Empowers Sales Reps With iPads And Salesforce.com

 

This case study is from TJ Keitt and my social business playbook report, “The Road To Social Business Starts With A Burning Platform.” A social business harnesses mobile technology to empower sales reps in their moments of customer – or in this case, patient – engagement. Here’s the story.

Sales executive Barry Somervell has a passion for arming his team with tools that yield productivity; he believes in the power of technology to transform the selling process. Barry was asked to come into Kindred Healthcare, a $5 billion supplier of post-acute-care services, to energize and modernize its nursing center division's sales process to bring patients into its 224 skilled nursing and transitional care centers. Barry quickly saw that the tools that the "clinical liaisons" carried were lacking. This group of sales professionals, from a clinical or nursing background, needed better ways to collaborate with colleagues and with hospital medical staff to offer the right services to patients about to be discharged and in need of rehabilitation services. You can see Barry and his team in this video.

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