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Productizing Tablets for Enterprises – The trade of between Productivity and Mobility

Posted in Enterprise Computing, Mobile Computing by Manas Ganguly on July 27, 2012

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!

The consumerization of enterprise

Posted in Enterprise Computing, Social context, media and advertising by Manas Ganguly on July 14, 2012

Social Media may be a recent enough phenomenon, but it is making the elephants in enterprise dance.

The global enterprise software market which is currently valued at $280 bln is going through a full scale renaissance. Gone are the clunky, licensed business products once churned out by the likes of Microsoft, Oracle and SAP. Up and coming are cloud-based, intuitive, software-as-a-service applications with social components created by a host of young, disruptive companies. And the big guys are now beginning to play game. In a spate of recent acquisitions, monies worth $2.25 bln have been spent by Enterprise majors to acquire start-ups providing a social platform.

The five factors driving this trend are as under

  1. Easy to use and intuitive UI to drive the next generation of business software.  Anyone who is aware of the Oracle enterprise systems would agree on how geeky it was and the man hours of training required to master Oracle. Deep down that trend is changing
  2. Software by definition has become a cloud based service piece as against a legacy thing that was bought, installed, integrated and resourced at enterprise. Licensing model led to build up of very heavy upfront costs and the need to maintain security and privacy at premises. Software-as-a-service (SaaS) instead treats software as a pay-as-you-go subscription, much like cable or phone service. Hardware and software is all centrally managed by the provider on cloud-based servers, including upgrades, backups and security
  3. The payment mechanisms are changing. As against a CAPEX led purchase earlier, SaaS solutions like Dropbox and LastPass percolate through the workplace organically, introduced casually by employees. If these apps indeed fill a niche, eventually CIOs take notice, opting into buying the enterprise versions. That’s the magic of the Freemium models.
  4. The Facebook approach in Enterprise is promising and delivering. The enterprise of today works across departmental silos with a lot of co-working and co-creation at hand. Collaborative project execution represents one of the most profound – and widely overlooked – advantages of new-generation enterprise software.
  5. Business computing goes mobile as BYOD soars. Availability of business critical data and information systems are hall-marks of new age mobility enterprises. The BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) phenomenon lets employees circumvent and subvert clunky, legacy PCs bloated with yesterday’s enterprise software.

So even if the Facebook IPO bust plateau-ed out on Social, the integration of Social and enterprise has great promise. It promises to phase out a $600 billion legacy behemoth- on-premises software, data centers and PCs.

The evolution of the Tablet PC Market: From Consumer to Enterprise

Posted in Enterprise Computing, Industry updates by Manas Ganguly on January 7, 2012

Tablet industry will need mass enterprise adoption for powering growth in 2012. Device makers/eco-system masters will have to customize to enterprise use cases. (Cue Android/Blackberry/Microsoft)

The Tablet PC was designed first by Microsoft and targeted at the enterprise segment mainly.

However, it was Apple and iPad with its unparalled experience which turned the Tablet PC into a consumer segment product mainly (That’s been the niche of Apple). Apple established the Tablet as a media consumption device as against smartphone(communication device) and laptops(computing devices). Apple made iPad the centre piece of its eco-system and still continues to add various other dimensions breaking one frontier after the other.The success of Apple spawned many others notably Android, Blackberry and even HP’s WebOS.

However, it was Amazon with its scale and expertise in media distribution that has now taken the pole position in low end tablet category.The Amazon USP is the media based services.Amazon Kindle Fire is exerting pressure on all tablet makers to reduce prices. Furthermore, with the introduction of iPad3,one could see iPad2 price down to at $300 levels. Android is an example of a strong competitor which has failed to create any impact in the consumer segment. The “Apeing Apple” strategy has not worked for Android (see image below). This is perhaps clear with the “missing in action” response that Ice-cream Sandwich has garnered post luanch.(A .6% presence inspite of Samsung, HTC, Sony and LG device makers pushing it). With the consumer segment taken by Apple and Amazon, there is little left for others. There are options of deep penetrative pricing as practiced by HP and Blackberry, but that doesnot translate in profits and viable business cases.

In 2012, tablet makers will have to go the “enterprise route” to find a foothold in a market which is fast polarizing towards Apple and Amazon.Again this will include a eco-system approach which will include application makers, cloud, telecom operators, MVNOs, value added service providers and other linkages with industries, Operators, functions and solutions which might always not strictly be from within the industry.

Device makers will need to decide which enterprise purposes can be supported by their tablets. The key drivers of successes in enterprises will be Optimization for specific use cases. I am listing out a 7 point use case optimization-
1. The stylus will emerge as an important input method which would enable consumers to annotate, make handwritten notes,
2. Similarly, voice enabled input could be a critical feature for creating compelling user experience
3. Tablet makers will need to drive development of apps and services optimized and uniquely well-suited for enterprise uses
4. Tablet makers will need to enable cross-platform interorperability between phones(smartphones), PCs, back-end legacy systems. Prima Facie, Microsoft has an edge in this.
5. Tablet makers will need to heed to security and piracy as key concern areas when addressing enterprise requirements
6. Device makers will need to Promote peripherals and ancillary services such as keyboard, cloud based services, pairing between office peripherals such as photo-copiers, scanners, servers etc in form of partnerships, shared GTM programs etc.
7. Device makers will have to evolve a new device lifecyle revenue model which balances the CAPEX, OPEX and service costs for optimum margins and sustained profitabilities.

2012 will see a lot of tablet device makers explore the enterprise segment as a viable and sustainable business case. The sooner the better.

Blackberry: Past Perfect, Present Tense, Future Unsure (Part III)

Posted in Mobile Devices and Company Updates by Manas Ganguly on January 23, 2011

Continued from Earlier post.

Contemporary OS and interface apart, BB has another couple of things to be worried about majorly in 2011. The lack of a 4G Handset to complement 4G launches happening across operators in US and the handicaps in Playbook, its tablet.

The problem for BB doesnot just stop at the BlackBerry smartphone platform, their OS quagmire and how it competes with Droids and iPhones. While iPhone 4 and Droids/EVOs exhibit capability of 4G which would hence complement the LTE rolls outs that operators are investing in, LTE Blackberry phone is still in a very early development process. Lack of an imminent BB LTE offering in 4G space, which is expected to drive enterprise business and adoption could provide the opening for the Androids and iPhones to penetrate such markets and get a head start over BB.

BB’s most interesting product today is the Playbook Tablet. It generated a huge amount of interest in the CES and as a first attempt Playbook is super impressive and QNX makes the cut. However, the Playbook also has a few challenges that could play spoiler
• The current SDK doesnot do a lot of developer stuff. Hence developers would have to wait for a date closer to launch for platform readiness. That delays the developer bit.
• Secondly, the Playbook would launch after the launch of Android 3.0 and iPad 2, both second generation tablets which means more refined behavior and lesser glitches.
• Thirdly, it doesn’t help that the PlayBook absolutely requires a BlackBerry to be wirelessly tethered to it in order to do native enterprise email. A BlackBerry smartphone tethered to the PlayBook for required email support is practically a boat anchor.

RIM’s challenge now is to keep delivering on the needs of the enterprise while at the same time packing the BlackBerry with the sexiest features that will truly drive end-user interest. If it doesn’t do this well, RIM is likely to lose share and ultimately become no more than a footnote in the mobile market that it helped create and define a decade ago.

The leader in the US smartphone space is now trailing the challengers by a heavy distance and worse, it doesnot seem to have its act under control from a future perspective. From the early signs, RIM and the BlackBerry due for some bumpy weather in 2011

Blackberry: Past Perfect, Present Tense, Future Unsure (Part II)

Posted in Mobile Devices and Company Updates by Manas Ganguly on January 22, 2011

While the earlier post, was a study in factors that led to the slide in BB, this post examines the efforts made by BB towards a more consumer centric product approach.

While Torch was BB’s best effort till date at consumers, BB’s consumer technology compares poorly to other companies’ end-user-focused devices. RIM’s application marketplace trails Android and iOS by several orders of magnitude, and the overall consumer experience is far less polished than the competition.

RIM must find ways to evolve its platform to be more competitive with changing user needs. While recent acquisitions show that RIM is slowly picking up some of the parts that it needs, such as a new kernel and better Web technology, it will need to accelerate the process of integrating those features into a new operating system — as well as a more coherent marketing campaign to better explain RIM’s offerings. To that extent, the QNX OS that BB has introduced in its Playbook tablet is somewhat at par with the expectations in the market. It had to be because tablets are quintessential consumer devices. BB stepping into this space may give the category some shades of enterprise.

Ideally, RIM needs to transition to a new platform entirely rather than attempt to evolve its current offerings. If a modern platform suddenly became available for sale that RIM could use to leverage its core strength, while providing new features, it would be wise to become a bidder. Otherwise, the BlackBerry might become a bit of nostalgia, eclipsed by later entries that were more capable for today’s growing needs. The leaked out features and specs of the 2011 Blackberry, which include the Bold 3 and the Torch 2 have been pretty average on specs and BB 6.0 OS has not really taken the thunder out of the iOS and Android numbers.

Specs: BB Torch 2

Blackberry Storm 3 Spec and Images

Blackberry Storm 3 Spec and Images

Blackberry: Past Perfect, Present Tense, Future Unsure (Part I)

Posted in Mobile Devices and Company Updates by Manas Ganguly on January 21, 2011

The No 1 smartphone company in US is getting sidelined by competitors who are innovating better and more engaging products for the BB consumers. 2011 may see BB loose the balance to competition in a way that it may never come back into reckoning again. In an earlier post, i had written about the 5 reasons responsible for the BB slide.

Blackberry under pressure: Gartner report shows that while Blackberry has grown over 30% YoY, its still is loosing relevance in the market courtesy Android and iPhone!

RIM is under pressure and it not only about loosing the grip on enterprise solutions, where it continues to be the king though. RIM faces pressure of getting side lined by emergence of categories and consumption patterns that it was not bothered about till a few quarters back.

BlackBerries forever, were known for one thing: instant access to push e-mail and the ability to sync your in-box with your corporate mail, on the go. Over the years, RIM has added calendar and contact sync, Web browsing, color and touch screens. At the heart, though, is the power of push e-mail. The BlackBerry thus remained a one-trick pony, but it does that trick extremely well. Unfortunately, relying on that trick is not going to be enough to keep RIM relevant in the market going forward. The problem for RIM is that others have learned to do that trick as well. It took some time, but now Microsoft’s platforms offer tight integration directly to Exchange, which remains the corporate standard for e-mail. In addition, by licensing the Exchange ActiveSync protocol, Microsoft has given vendors such as Nokia, Palm, Apple and others the ability to offer that core wireless personal information management functionality.

So the move has been from RIM’s best-of-breed management capabilities, tight security and encryption, and the ability to integrate into scores of business applications to touch screens and multi-touch gestures, photo tagging and cataloguing, media and music synchronization, and the integration of social networks. From Enterprise to the consumer underscoring a very important point: When it comes to mobile, it’s not necessarily what IT thinks is important; it’s what the end user thinks. So, while RIM has all enterprise features on its side, end users are starting to demand the sorts of smartphone features they can find on new and flashy devices that run iOS and Android, putting pressure on IT to allow those devices into the organization as a corporate standard. Apple and Google, while wooing the mass market, have made huge strides in adding more business-required support, positioning them-selves to capture the hearts and minds of both the business user and the consumer, who in many cases are one and the same.

Users’ mobile expectations have evolved. Communication is still what consumers want most from a mobile device, but now they expect the ability to reference information, browse the Web, consume entertainment and play games. It’s with these functions that RIM’s platform starts to severely show its age. BBs browser and app store experience is pathetic and I could seriously vouch for that, now that I carry an enterprise BB on me.

To be Contd.

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