New Technology in 2011 – Consumerisation of IT Part 2

 

Have you ever wondered why upon your return from the Christmas holidays there always seems to be a plethora of new technology being discussed in the press and online?  The answer is the CES.  For those who have not heard of this, it is the Consumer Electronics show, which this year was held in Las Vegas from 6-9 January.  This show has been running now for more than four decades and already has the future dates published until 2022.  To also give you an indication of the size of the event, in 2010 it attracted 126,641 visitors.

As you can imagine the amount of technology and gadgets showcased is immense and this year had all the usual suspects from tablets to Smartphones etc.  However following on from my last blog looking at the consumerisation of IT one particular Innovation caught my eye.

Motorola has released a new Smartphone called the Atrix 4G, its most powerful to date, which comes with a laptop docking station that gives a full size keyboard and screen plus a HD Multimedia Dock for use at work. This new handset will launch in the US in the first quarter of the year and is expected to be available worldwide by the end of the year.

The reason this particular device caught my eye is that over the last few years enterprises have been struggling to allow staff to use the latest technology as it pushes up the cost of IT as multiple devices are needed to be supported.  Some staff are now carrying a Smartphone, a laptop and even a Tablet which of course necessitates that each device requires a 3G card and contract.

If over time all Smartphone manufacturers were to offer phones that could be docked into a plethora of devices wouldn’t it be great to think that our computer was replaced by our phone and this was the only piece of IT we needed to carry?  When this happens over the next few years the consumerisation of IT will really of happened and I would certainly trade all my devices for a single Smartphone.

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http://www.motorola.com/Consumers/US-EN/Consumer-Product-and-Services/Mobile-Phones/Motorola-ATRIX-US-EN

http://www.v3.co.uk/v3/video/2274127/ces-introducing-motorola-atrix

Specifications

The Atrix 4G which is a dual core Tegra 2 handset, with each core running at 1GHz, and 1GB of RAM, as well as Wi-Fi and 16GB of storage and microSD support.

The docking station has an 11.6-inch screen and three USB ports, as well as HDMI out for presentations or home entertainment. It has stereo speakers and a three-cell battery that will give around five hours of battery life the company said.

Once in place the laptop screen displays an image of the phone’s main screen, and allows full access to all applications, as well as opening a Firefox browser for internet and cloud application use. The docking station uses a Linux operating system but can coexist with the handset’s Android operating system.

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Will cloud adoption encourage the consumerisation of IT?

As we move through 2011 more and more of us will be choosing to use cloud services in our personal lives rather than opting for applications loaded onto our PC’s.  The benefit of this is that your data is backed up, can be accessed from any device anywhere and you can even sync this to all of your devices i.e. Notebook, iPhone, iPad etc.  This offering has completely changed the way we connect with each other and consume data.  The ability to read part of a book on one device, bookmark it and then continue on another device is truly a timesaver.

As this trend continues; which of course was only made possible through the advent of our new “App” culture you can now see this moving into the enterprise.

More and more vendors are now offering a managed cloud service which is accessed via the internet and is a “win win” for everyone.  This new model prevents the enterprise from butchering their applications beyond recognition which increases running costs and prevents any further upgrades and enables the vendor to migrate all customers to the latest version of the code at the same time and reduces costs by there never needing to be support for previous levels.  

As more enterprise applications go this way, especially with the advent of Microsoft’s Office in the cloud (Office 365) slowly our Business world will start to un-tether itself from the office hardware and we will slowly be able to access various applications from our own PCs.

Over the last few years the talk of the consumerisation of IT has always arisen but there has never been a credible solution.  Now it appears that it may happen all on its own.  By enterprises making considered decisions in their application choices not only will future IT costs reduce but for once the staff will have a choice to continue with company standard hardware or use their own devices, be they Smartphone’s, Tablets or Notebooks. 

The consumerisation of IT will not only save companies money it will also in the short term be an excellent differentiator in the marketplace to attract talent and retain staff.

PCs as consumables

One of the main changes in the personal computer space during 2008 was the introduction of the netbook. A netbook is a light weight, low cost, small (with 7 – 12 inch screens), energy efficient, highly portable laptop that achieves these parameters by offering fewer features, less processing power and reduced ability to run resource-intensive operating systems. These PCs are largely suitable for web browsing, email and general applications. The netbooks are also being retailed just under £200.

Although these PCs tend to be offered with either normal hard drives or lower sized Solid State drives I feel that these will soon become consumable items which everyone will have and throw away when a better spec one is available especially as the cost migrates towards £100.

As these devices have wireless capability you can use these anywhere for multiple reasons and I personally would rather carry a netbook than try to browse a smartphone or similar device at home or on the move. Last year Samsung announced that it was offering a 256GB Flash SSD drive, which although is cost prohibitive to place in a netbook currently you can imagine in a few years the possibilities where you could have a device that sits on your coffee table which you could pick up at any time to browse the web, compile an email, stream video and even hold all of your CDs which wirelessly connects to your sound system.

 

Samsung FlashSSD 256GB

 

And infact at CES 2009 in Las Vegas, ASUS unveiled the world’s first notebook pc equipped with 512GB SSD. Therefore with this change of form factor to a more consumable, durable and smaller device, is it time that everyone started considering reducing the amount of information published on web pages so that it is easier to interact on a smaller device? Apple was the first to benefit from producing apps for the smaller form factor device, who will be next to consider the Netbooks??

Technology Convergence

Have you noticed that more and more people are coming to work with multiple devices?  It seems to be common place now that on everyone’s desk there is a work mobile, a personal mobile, the work PC and now more common place a personal netbook.  This now seems to be the ideal time to investigate working practices where either Business Devices are partitioned so that there is a Business side to a computer and a Personal which you are responsible for.  Or even investigate the taboo of staff members providing their own PC and using this for work.  Similar could also be done with Mobiles although some vendors do offer multiple SIM devices where two SIMs can be inserted.         

Presentations

Over the last few months I have attended various external events where presentations have been given and I am astounded by the lack of presentation skills people still possess and that they feel that it is still ok to use a Powerpoint Deck with a white background, no header and lines and lines of text which are just read out. 

As the world starts to embrace the web 2.0 phenomena and the Gen X and Y people start to outpace the traditionalists maybe it is time to use a different product or start to demand a more professional approach to conferences and understand that this is infact a form of collaboration.  Collaboration should not encompass the traditional tell or sell culture but be a more enjoyable and social experience, so why should this not extend to presentations in conferences.   

Using Collaboration to gain new audiences and increase sales

Traditionally all industries have relied upon skilled salespeople to bring in business.  These sales have then been supported by either paper brochures or enhanced brochure-wear on websites.  You will know however if you have ever completed any personality tests that different people respond better to different approaches.  Some people are graphical and like to see figures, some people are audible and like to hear things, some people are visual and like to read things etc.  So why then do we still only address a few of these when trying to increase our customer base?  With the continual adoption of Web 2.0 products everyone should consider all types of people to gain extra market share and in addition to brochure-wear consider podcasts, online presentations, blogs, wikis etc.    

Product Management or lack of Customer Understanding

With the turmoil which is currently being experienced in the financial services industry I spent some time this week seeing what Innovations the competition were offering in order to retain their current customers and attract more.  Surprisingly it seems some of the major players have a product set which actually discourages potential customers.  Here are two of the more memorable cases I found: 

  1. One Institution was offering an internet savings account with a favourable rate of interest however surprisingly this cannot be operated stand alone and you must open a Cheque Account (In Branch of course) to fund the account, plus have a cashcard.  When asked whether the card could be deselected the answer was no, just leave it in a drawer at home….  
  2. Another Institution who was also offering a very competitive savings rate which surprisingly is only being offered in branch, informed me that to discuss it further I needed to make and appointment and they would offer me one in 10 DAYS…  

As consumers realise they are part of a Global Market and have the option to shop around via the Internet and engage with any organisation around the world the short-sightedness of some companies is unacceptable and with the proliferation of new technologies and the rise of Generation C will see their market share slowly diminish.   

Financial institutions can no longer assume it is their way or the highway and Product Management will become a key factor in attracting and retaining your customer base.