Getting off Apple and going all Google has increased my respect for both companies. I've come to realize that the very best mobile experience right now is built on a foundation of Google services on Apple hardware. I wish only that these two companies could get along better, and that Apple will allow more Google integration on the iPhone.
Six epic battles that will shape the workplace of the future
Since we launched CITEworld in October, we've thought a lot about what the site should be about. The word "consumerization" is loaded -- a lot of people associate it with the rise of smartphones and tablets in the workplace, particularly devices that users bring to work themselves.
But the idea is a lot broader than that. The technology landscape is going through one of its periodic upheavals, as several big trends -- increasingly powerful mobile devices, cloud computing, and real-time social collaboration and communication -- come together. The interesting part: these trends started in the consumer world, and are only now moving into the enterprise.
As consumer technology and ideas move into the workplace, some epic battles are underway. The outcome of these battles will affect the entire tech landscape -- IT departments, vendors, resellers, and investors. And most important, end-users. (Or, as I sometimes call them, "people.")
Windows vs. not-Windows. A decade ago, the work environment on the client side was Windows plus a few Macs and BlackBerries. Now, most workplaces are seeing a big influx of iOS devices and Android phones. (Android tablets -- not yet.) These growing cracks in Windows have emboldened other platforms to take a shot, from the Google-backed Chrome OS to a whole host of standards-based and open-source mobile alternatives. The platform battle has huge implications not just for the primary vendors (Microsoft, Dell, HP, Apple, Samsung, Google, and so on), but also for all the follow-on vendors who sell and service these devices. Forget Steve Ballmer – he’ll be fine no matter how this comes out. How does this affect the person who’s built his software company or consultancy or IT career around a particular technology that is losing relevance? How does this open opportunities for new companies, new approaches, and new people?
Young vs. old. The generation entering the workplace has grown up with an abundance of consumer-friendly technology: mobile phones, social networks, and an infinity of searchable web resources to provide every imaginable type of information. When they come to work, they expect to be able to do their jobs using tools that are similarly convenient and accessible -- and if those tools aren't available, they're savvy enough to find their own. (Although they may not always be savvy about the risks.) This provides a huge opening for new enterprise companies who take design seriously and build for users over IT departments; and huge challenges for vendors who thought they could take their position in the enterprise for granted.
IT vs. user. This leads into the next major battle going on in the workplace. IT departments have to think about security and data loss -- if the company jewels get out on a public web site, they will lose their job. But if the tools are too cumbersome, users will bypass them. Is it “rogue IT”? Or is it workers improving their productivity despite the best efforts of Mordac the Preventer?
IT vs. line of business. IT used to control the tech budget. Now a huge amount of it has been decentralized to line-of-business units – HR has a tech budget, marketing has a tech budget, sales has a tech budget, and so on. In addition, a lot of services are so cheap that individuals or small teams can start using them simply with a credit card. What does that mean for the future of IT? How do IT departments stay relevant? Does the entire role go away?
New data visualization apps for Excel 2013 could help Microsoft hang on to customers looking for better data visualization tools.
Surface has been a stiff so far, but Microsoft reportedly has big expectations for its next fiscal year. Here's why the company may not be crazy.
Brandon Porco, the chief technologist for defense contractor Northrop Grumman, says that IT will have to try lots of different things and move quickly to keep abreast of evolving employee needs. "Google has it very well-patterned: Launch and iterate."
Although Apple is often accused of not being an enterprise company, it's only in the last few years that Apple has abandoned its enterprise-oriented products. The real story may be that Apple's discovered that making enterprise-focused efforts simply don't deliver a huge return on investment.