With 25 million tablets selling of in Q2, 2012 globally, tablets could very well have arrived as the third device in the mobile stack - PC and smartphone being the first two devices. But do we find productivity yet on the tablets? Or would they always remain as consumption devices?
Tablets aren’t really new. They’re big PDAs. We do calendaring, note taking, alarms, and notifications on tablets — but so could a PDA, all the way back to the Newton. We’ve been using this kind of touch-based organizer for over a decade at the executive level (remember the clumsy tablets from Microsoft?). They’re coming into their own stride, but we still struggle with leveraging them for productivity.
Many IT professionals are wondering how tablets are going to affect the enterprise. We’re all trying to work out if, when, and how these devices are going to impact our work. However, I’m not sure we’re asking the right questions about these devices. Given that customized, purpose-driven appliances and tablets are the best answer to the ever increasing productization requirements, the case is still largely inconclusive. We (Marketers in general) are all over the place trying to figuring out how to leverage mobile platforms. We’re looking desperately for a use model. This lack of a definite conclusion reflects the entire industry.
The classic innovation and monetization syndrome is that if we don’t innovate and implement this exciting new technology, our competitors will — but don’t worry, they’re as uncertain about how to proceed as we are.
Coming back to the use cases of Tablets for the enterprises, I see two major tablet applications:
- Better mobile connectivity than PDAs. In particular, tablets are able to give a more feature-rich browsing experience and reasonable email communication. They also tend to work better with web apps like OWA than previous mobile devices.
- Ability to design and deploy custom native apps.
The trouble seems to be one of convergence and transition. We’re transitioning from a desktop OS, application-based, business productivity environment — Office, Outlook, PowerPoint, and local applications running on a traditional PC. We use server-based back office, HR, and business processes platforms. Those are behind on developing meaningful mobile options, and they don’t yet rival traditional desktop PC methods in features and convenience. The value add of having a mobile device is offset by the limitations, where it’s an option.
Another driver is the convergence of cloud technologies and mobile devices. Public clouds make enterprises nervous, private clouds lose a lot of the supposed benefits of public clouds, and IT seems reluctant about adopting any cloud. But mobile devices are cloud pods. They’re lightweight devices designed to buzz around the cloud — gathering, creating, sharing, or moving information. Storing my private music and movies on the cloud is one thing, and storing my critical corporate IP there is another. The personal digital assistant part of the PDA is becoming a reality with Now and Siri, but we’re asked to place a lot of trust in allowing a cloud to collect meaningful information about us. Without that, we can’t reap the benefits of these solutions.
The enterprise challenge is that these mobile consumer devices take away the granular control of a PC. Ultimately, things are still sorting themselves out for tablets in the enterprise. It’s still very difficult to see where these technologies might take us.
Maybe Microsoft may have a few answers!
Convergence has been the buzz word for a good part of the last decade and will continue to do so in this decade as well. However, for the discerning the definition or at least the meaning of convergence has now shifted from device convergence to technology convergence. The later being the superset of which devices are just another maifestation. So earlier its was the camera, the mobile phone, the GPS, the MP3 player and other such device charecterestics that really converged. However, in the present context it is the convergence of enabling technologies and the three big technologies that seem to be convergent at this time are: Mobility, Cloud Services and Big Data.
However, it is a relatively small lynchpin that drives the convergence of these three mega trends. Small in terms of what it is, but large in terms of the innovation spurts that it provides. The key here is APIs or Application programming Interfaces. APIs tie together the mega-trends in a fundamental and unalterable way. APIs are the lingua franca of the new wave in internet of all things combined with super mobility and seamless connectivity. In my mind, each of these three technology trends (on their own) will be on the fast track to commoditization and will risk facing the same fate as did most social business software plays. The magic and the premiums will come from contextual application of this innovation and smart integration.
To stake a few examples, Box.net as storage without document and device sync and collaboration is commodity. Apple’s iCloud as storage without ubiquitous local and iTunes media sync across devices is commodity. And Google Drive (as discussed here in Ben Kepes’ CloudU community) is also a commodity business not worth getting into had it not been for Google’s services such as Google Apps, Piccasa, and its media and unified communication capabilities under the Google Plus brand.
The premiums from big data, mobile access and cloud comes from
a) dynamically assembled media and content, and interpreted data in the cloud,
b) available wherever you need to consume and / or collaborate and
c) insanely focused and simple interfaces to complex backends.
Thats where money would be made in these commoditized services. APIs provide the integration through the value creation network. The only other differentiator in this case being experience!
Data is big… just how big is something that isnt expressed in numbers really! Not at least till you have the metaphors of data in the context of common understanding. In this post today, i feature a presentation from Cisco’s Dave Evans. Apart from the data metaphors, it is amazing to see how our lives will change in next 10 years due to technology advancements.
On the early morning of April 21 (Pacific Day Time), Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) data centre in Virginia crashed, taking down with it several popular websites and small businesses that depend on it. These included favoured social networking destinations like Evite, Quora, Reddit and Foursquare, among others. This outage continued through to the next 3 days. The duration of the outage has surprised many, since Amazon has a lot of backup computing infrastructure. The online businesses affected by the EC2 outage lost that many hours of ad revenues, business opportunities and drops of the precious trust of many loyal followers, a primary pillar of social networking. These losses are hard to quantify. The question is being asked: if an Amazonian cloud giant can crash so badly, what about the rest? If Amazon can’t safeguard the cloud, how can we rely upon it so? So the debate begins on the future of cloud computing and what to do to make users and companies put their trust in cloud vendors such as Amazon.
The good thing about the cloud is that it protects users when their own home computers crash and lose data. But the rotten part about the crash of the cloud is that millions upon millions of users become helpless and any recovery of the data is beyond their control. Eventually, the cloud will become like a utility. You can get as much computing power as you want with the flip of a switch and you won’t have to worry about outages as much over time. But we’re clearly not there yet.
Cloud isn’t magic like they earlier thought it was. It is rather merely about viability and not about continuous availability. Continuous Availability sold cloud computing to many small businesses, including the ever-increasing social networking bandwagon. SMEs are now graduating to the next level of cloud computing, using it not just for storage, but also for active computing purposes like communication, sustaining remote workforces and deploying cloud services like remote IT help, cloud operating systems , and so on. The impact of such an outage, therefore, is felt even more.
Although Amazon will probably recover quickly, the event has damaged its credibility. Amazon has been a personification of the spirit of the Internet, which is one of true democracy, access to the means of distribution, and rapid evolution. However, in this case, Amazon has been cryptic about the cause and it has only said that matters are improving but were still not resolved. If Amazon can explain the problem and make a good case for why the damage may not be big, then it will be fine. If not, the work will go elsewhere. Amazon may be a big player, but there are other big players waiting to step into the game.These include the likes of Google , IBM , Cisco, RedHat and Microsoft (whose cloud ads are all over Silicon Valley), to name a few.
Even the darkest cloud has a silver lining and this outage will be critical in determining a lot of supporting factors which will be critical for customers/ Corporations to consider before they engage the cloud infrastructure.
• Some sites spend the money to run mirror sites on other cloud vendors, so the sites can remain functional even if one cloud vendor goes down. But that’s an expense that many web sites haven’t taken.
• Corporations will have to decide what computer operations to put on a cloud operated by external vendors and how much they should keep inside their own internal data centers.
• Customers will have to figure out the right policies for backup and recovery services. A right suite of legal conditions to serve disaster management situations such as these will be important.
• Businesses will have to decide whether to allocate more money to backup data centers in multiple locations.