Showing posts with label IT consumerization. Show all posts
Showing posts with label IT consumerization. Show all posts

Friday, January 25, 2013

Making mobile user experience ‘tablet-y’ for enterprise applications


We’ve been checking off the various dos & don’t for bringing enterprise applications to iPads and other mobile devices.  There are a lot of them.  So many that our CTO Stephen Vilke did an entire webcast about the topic (summarized in this white paper).
Last week I brought up mobile security.  The issue that goes hand-in-hand with that is user experience (UX).  In fact, mobile user experience is usually what suffers when IT operations and corporate compliance get their way.
Stephen, however, is not one to just say, “Oh, well, the users are just going to have to deal with it.”  In fact, avoiding that mistake is core to his CTO tip this time around:
DON’T underestimate the importance of building a rich user experience.
From Stephen’s perspective if security is king for tablets in the enterprise, then user experience is certainly next in line for the throne.  IT departments simply must deliver a strong user experience, says Stephen. If the (albeit brief) history of mobile has taught us anything, it’s that if people don’t like it, they won’t use it.
"How many times have you heard, 'our sales team, managers -- insert group here -- are not using a new system because it’s not easy to use'? Or 'the users hate using the application because it’s hard to do anything with it'? 
"The more time you spend at the beginning of a project making sure there is a rich user experience, the more user satisfaction will increase. This does not have to mean a full re-write for your legacy applications, but rather it is about researching how your audience interacts with applications on their current hardware (PC and laptop) and adding some iPadness to that application when you deliver it on a tablet.  Make it tablet-y!  No one wants a PC experience replicated exactly on a tablet. 
"In fact, at the core of this 'consumerization of IT' revolution inside the enterprise is user experience -- employees asking to use their own iPad at work because it’s easy to use, and easy to be productive with. The only reason employees use the IT systems at work is because their job depends on it. If workers weren’t forced to execute expense reports with scanners, scissors, and tape, and instead could execute it faster with an iPhone app, they would likely opt for the quick route and actually spend a little more time doing their job. Moreover, they might even enter information into a CRM system more frequently if they could do it from their iPad wherever they happen to be."
User experience drives user adoption. And, as Stephen has noted more than a couple times in his career, good news travels fast. The more people use something, the more they will share their experiences with others, and the faster the rate of adoption.
Moreover, building a strong user experience is going to drive productivity across your range of use cases. Technology should not get in the way of a user’s productivity. Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) solutions are notorious for letting the user down when it comes to the user experience. A salesperson, physician, investment advisor, or whatever the role, does not want the mobile version of their virtual app to slow them down. Conversely, creating native applications unique to the user’s job can increase their productivity as well as their effectiveness, but can also be time consuming and very, very expensive.  Says Stephen:
"Try to make it simple. If done right, UX can drastically decrease support costs. Leveraging a simple user experience, one that is intuitive and user-friendly means that there will be fewer knots to untangle down the line. The up-front costs distributing applications to tablets are one thing, sustaining their upkeep and performance is something else. 
"Companies with successful implementations spend roughly 25 percent of their implementation costs on delivering user adoption – for things like training, communications, and change management. Larger implementations can spend roughly 30-35 percent on user adoption. Spending time at the beginning of a project on the user experience can lower these costs."
Think about it.  Says Stephen: “no one trained you to use Google, Craigslist, or CNN.com.”  He’s not saying to just drop all of those mobile security concerns.  But remember this:  UX is worth more time and effort than IT has been used to devoting to it.  And in this more tablet-y world, that’s going to have to change.

This post also appears on the Framehawk blog.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

For mobile enterprise applications, perfect is the enemy of done


The pressure for IT to enable enterprise application access for iPads and the like is immediate and immense.  The problem with trying to do something fast, however, is it often requires a great deal of that IT budget of yours…which truthfully wasn’t built with many of the costs to mobilize applications in mind.
How do you balance speed and cost when it comes to enterprise mobility?  Here’s another one of the top dos & don’ts that our CTO Stephen Vilke talked about in his “Confessions of a CTO” webcast a few weeks back:
DO get to market quickly. But, do it without bankrupting the firm.
No matter what, deliver initial value quickly, said Stephen in his commentary.  Time is of the essence, especially when it comes to mobility.  Get some initial capabilities out there.  Expose them to real-world users.  Allow folks to experiment. See what they use and what they don’t, and then make further investment decisions based on that data.
Certainly choosing an approach that is scalable, affordable, and fast is no easy task. In many markets, competitive advantages are fleeting, as mass-market players scramble to create the “next big thing,” which is often defined (at least in the fashion sense) by the consumerization of IT.
As an IT team worried about enterprise mobility, where should you put your emphasis?  Stephen suggests going for speed:
“Tackle the first part of the speed/cost equation first: pace. It’s rare that technology from the consumer world is adopted seamlessly into the enterprise – and accommodating tablets with legacy applications in a natural way has been no exception.
“The resource, effort, and policy demands on a firm trying to bridge this transition can take a considerable period of time. Perfect is the enemy of done.  So, find a good – not perfect – solution that gets you started quickly.  And one that you can learn some lessons from.  That’s key.  From there, you can mature and get a deeper understanding of your users and use cases.”
Once you find a solution that your risk, compliance, and regulatory groups can live with, next comes the task of getting all relevant stakeholders engaged. Having everyone on the same page will ensure that there are no unforeseen roadblocks in implementation.  A big piece of this, Stephen recounts from his experiences, is (of course) around budget:
“After optimizing for speed, make sure that it is affordable. There are plenty of vendors in the market with blends of professional services, co-development partnership, and customized offerings that can be difficult for a company to digest fiscally.
“Mobility can be just like any other new hardware integration: expense can run high, sneak up on you fast – especially as maintenance of a new workflow creates a compounded cost structure. So have a sense of the operations and finance budget that your IT department can absorb before investigating options.”
As important as the cost factors can be, however, don’t let them derail your efforts to get something mobile actually done.  Your users will thank you for it.   After all, they are the ones trying to find ways to get their own jobs done using their newest mobile device.
Your employees won’t be shy telling you whether you were successful with your enterprise mobility efforts.  They’ll vote with their feet pretty quickly.  Or, more likely (since they are using touch-screen tablets) with their fingers.
This is part of our continuing series of posts featuring insights on enterprise mobility from Framehawk’s CTO and co-founder Stephen Vilke.  You can see a replay of Stephen’s webinar “Confessions of a CTO: 7 Dos & Don’t for Bringing Your Existing Enterprise Apps to the iPad” here or download the white paper here.

This post also appears on the Framehawk blog.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Does the new Amazon Kindle Fire mean the end of BYOD?


Amazon set the tablet market buzzing last week with the announcement of its new line of 7-inch and 9-inch Kindle Fires.  As with the Microsoft Surface announcement earlier in the year, the news got me thinking about the impact of these new devices on the enterprise.
The logical answer is that the more devices there are, the more different devices that consumers are going to have.  And, since iPad-toting employees have been pressuring IT to help them access enterprise resources with those devices, they are very likely to try the same thing with any device they have.
So, the more types of tablets and other mobile devices there are, the more likely that Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) becomes the norm in corporations.  And IT will have to figure out a strategy to keep up.
Or maybe not.
I saw a post by Galen Gruman of InfoWorld on Friday that actually posited that exact opposite.  If the Kindle Fire is successful against the iPad at home, he suggests, it might actually decrease the likelihood that BYOD carries the day in enterprises.
Intrigued?  Here’s his logic:
The new Kindle Fire, which Galen notes is “aimed squarely at the iPad's home users,” is part of Amazon’s effort “to supplant the iTunes-centric Apple ecosystem with an Amazon-centric one.”  If the Kindle Fire picks up steam and consumers prefer that device as their “home” tablet, “that could reshape the iPad's role in business.”
And, since the Kindle Fire isn’t really enterprise-ready, the iPad would continue to fill the that role.  In fact, the iPad might become only your “work” tablet, perhaps even become company-issued devices the way PCs used to be.
The difference is this:  if people use the Kindle Fire at home and the iPad at work, the iPad is no longer that single, unified platform someone would use for both across both worlds.  Galen called this single platform “the fundamental enabler of the consumerization and BYOD phenomena.”
Given this, despite a great proliferation of new devices, the iPad would become the only corporate tablet that everyone optimizes and plans for.  Good-bye, BYOD.
Sure, these are all big “if"s, but they are (as Galen notes) “plausible enough to contemplate.”
IT would probably cheer the death of BYOD.  Ironically, IT normally prefers a situation where they have choice.  However, the BYOD scenario represents too much of a good thing – and it results in options over which they have no control at all, despite the serious security and cost concerns for the enterprise.  Choice, at least in the case of BYOD, is pricey for IT.
However, I don’t think enterprise IT should toss out those half-written BYOD policy papers quite yet.
As much as IT would love to only have to architect and plan for the iPad, I think the BYOD genie is already out of the bottle.  Now that employees realize they can choose their own tablet or mobile phone (or both) and it's just part of IT's lot in life to figure out how to make a wide range of devices productive in an enterprise environment, I don’t think there’s any going back.
Not that enterprises have BYOD completely figured out yet, but users have tasted this control thing– and they like it.  A lot.  Even the teams we are working with at large financial firms (including UBS) are certainly planning for the iPads that employees own, but also other multiple other types of devices, too.
On Twitter, Galen also noted some good news for fans of the freedom that BYOD brings: iPad/iPhone, Windows 8, and Android “all are BYOD-supporting. Maybe WinPhone8 will join in.” Kindle, Windows Phone 7, and Blackberry?  Not so much.
Either way, it looks to be a pretty heated Battle of the Network Stars (er, Ecosystems) for the home entertainment mindshare for Amazon and Apple.  Google plus Android and Microsoft are in the mix, too.
I have to say that the iPad’s monstrous marketshare and popularity make me think that Apple doesn’t have much to worry about.  For the moment, anyway.
However, the fact that this is even an interesting question in the first place is a testament to the impact of consumerization on IT.   For the first time, these battles over the home market could have very serious implications on enterprise IT investment strategies, planning, and even hiring.
No question:  that genie is definitely out of the bottle.

This post also appears on the Framehawk blog.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

UBS garners CIO 100 Award for FA Mobile iPad project with Framehawk


Congratulations are definitely in order for Framehawk customer UBS.
At CIO Magazine’s annual recognition event last week, that publication honored UBS with a 2012 CIO 100 Award for its groundbreaking FA Mobile iPad project. And we’re proud to note that Framehawk is playing a key role in that project.
The CIO 100 Awards themselves are kind of a big deal, established to “showcase the transformative power of IT-business innovation.” Tony Pizi and the project team at UBS were honored for their work designing and rolling out the project for their Wealth Management Financial Advisors.
Enabling mobility for those advisors was a big driver for the project in the first place. The short project summary on CIO.com noted the importance that mobility has taken on for both the UBS financial advisors and their clients. The UBS Wealth Management business recognized that investing in a mobile platform would “help attract and retain financial advisor talent and better serve current and new clients.” People want to work for and work with companies investing in mobility.
The project is a great example of how the BYOD trend is making its mark on event the largest financial institutions. The initial release made it possible for financial advisors to “answer client questions about accounts and markets and to give paperless client presentations anytime and anywhere, using their personal iPads,” CIO.com reported in the describing the project.
As for Framehawk, our software is part of the enabling platform that lets advisors access and work with their existing tools on those iPads, while maintaining the high performance and security UBS requires.
CIO.com also underscored the importance of the mobile user experience, something also the Framehawk Platform also helps enable.
“Navigating the platform is simpler than a traditional desktop,” said the CIO.com write-up, “and all proprietary data is safe because nothing is saved on the device.”
For a bit more detail about the UBS FA Mobile project, we have a short write-up on our website.
And, of course, big kudos go to the UBS project team for the well-deserved recognition.

Monday, March 19, 2012

The new iPad unboxed -- and already making an impact

For those of us working in the mobile space, Friday was one of those fun days. It’s the day that the new iPad, formerly informally known as the iPad 3, started arriving. That sent some people to their local Apple shrine, er, Store to get their hands on the newest tablet.

The true “in” crowd, however, had their orders placed the day of Apple’s announcement, and just needed to sit back and wait for the delivery guy.

Our CEO here at Framehawk, Peter Badger, of course was one of the early birds. His two new iPads arrived at his house early Friday morning. As I tweeted then, he interrupted our Friday morning staff meeting to live broadcast opening up his new gadget. We all oohed and aahed over the phone line.

So what is it like? Is it bigger and better than the iPad 2…or just better? Peter recorded The Great Unboxing, so see for yourself:

Questions about the new iPad

There are certainly a bunch of questions consumers have about the new device, like what’s that new HD screen like? But more to the point with our customers and prospects, how will this new tablet impact the enterprise?

MarketWatch writer Ben Pimentel asked Peter for his take on the new iPad and its implications for large IT organizations for an article that ran Friday. “Holy moly,” said Peter, “this is better than going from basic to HD cable.

“Adding that to 4G network availability is going to put a lot more pressure on enterprise to really get their act together and figure out a way to support iPads and other tablets in the workplace,” he continued. “They can’t afford to sit on their hands anymore. Their customers and employees are going to beat their door down with this latest device.” Ben also quoted my blog from earlier in the week about the enterprise impact and serious CIO interest.

But back to the device itself. As he was trying the new iPad out, Peter commented that “everything looks cleaner, sharper, more luscious. This latest device is just unbelievable. I didn’t think I needed the 3 upgrade until I started to use it.”

Anything negative? “I have to say,” said Peter, “the new iPad looks similar to my iPad 2.”

I guess by that he means that getting device-geek street cred will be more difficult. You see, given that it looks so physically similar, you’ll actually have to tell people that you have the new iPad.

But you’ll probably be doing that anyway.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The new iPad -- with an enterprise twist

Last week’s “new iPad” announcement elicited the breathless attention of the industry, as expected.

One angle that didn’t get too much play by Apple itself, however, was the impact of this new device on the IT departments in large enterprises. But fear not. Others noticed the oversight. For example, salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff complained over Twitter that Apple missed a trick in not recounting the iPad’s in-roads in the enterprise. Last year’s iPad 2 launch, he tweeted “was enterprise friendly,” implying this one was, well, not.

In fact, many industry commentators took a shot at what Apple’s new announcement will mean for the enterprise. The sheer quantity of commentary tells me that the enterprise impact of this device, uncertain even 18 months ago, is pretty much guaranteed. The consumerization of IT is alive and well. Or at least it’s what people want to talk about.

Different ways that enterprises and iPads mix

The enterprise-related comments about the new iPad announcement fell into a few categories. First, they recounted where they thought enterprises were on the adoption curve of iPads -- and tablets in general. Second, they reviewed what the popularity of the iPad means to IT and the systems those folks must tirelessly maintain every day. Third, there were a few comments on how the enterprise might respond to all this. Here are some highlights I thought were worth repeating:

CIOs want to move to the tablet…now

Ted Schadler of Forrester believes things are moving aggressively, based on the 100 or so inquiries from CIOs he has taken in the past 6 months. So what has been the most common question they’ve asked? “How do I get business applications onto the tablet?” Our field folks here at Framehawk are hearing the same kinds of questions.

Ted also recounted all the business software that’s making a move to the iPad, though most of his examples are productivity-style apps that you’d find on a PC. The customers we are talking to are certainly interested in those, but they are also looking for ways to use the more business-critical applications with tablets as well.

“Post-PC”

Schadler also imagined a new question that the newest iPad will bring to the forefront: which employees get laptops instead of PCs? Eric Lai of SAP/Sybase called out the “post-PC-ness” of the new device in his CNET write-up. In fact, Wired called the “post-PC revolution” that Tim Cook talked about as “fighting words.” What does “post-PC” mean, specifically? Tim Carmody of Wired said it this way: it means that “computing time and attention [by consumers and the IT department, frankly] shifts to phones and tablets and television screens, among others. And the traditional PC becomes a more specialized device for particular tasks.”

The new iPad’s improvements will impact existing IT systems

But even before that shift happens, there's a chance that everyone in the enterprise is going to feel the impact of the new iPad -- and not in a good way. A Computerworld story by Matt Hamblen noted that people bringing the new iPad to the office (sanctioned or otherwise) might actually end up causing a huge network crunch.

Hamblen reported the possibility of employees trying to avoid high personal mobile network charges for downloading HD movies and the like just might do it at the office, impacting corporate Wi-Fi networks. He also pointed to what might happen if many people are trying to get iOS or app updates at the same time. “The Wi-Fi download burden on corporate networks could be severe,” said the experts that Matt interviewed.

Will the enhanced processing power change what’s ported to an iPad?

One interesting commentary that the specs of the new iPad brought up: the enhanced processing power could be a boon to running big applications on the iPad. One of the users interviewed by John Cox in a separate Network World article mentioned "4G, the new processor speed, and improved screen resolutions will allow IT to port more backend applications like Oracle, and Siebel to iPad."

In reality, it’s not only the processor that’s holding this back. It’s the development effort it takes to rewrite things. So while the new iPad’s souped up specs are beneficial improvements, don’t think it will mean suddenly SAP will be ported to your iPad. At least, not with this traditional approach. (Now, if you’re interested in some alternative approaches, I know some people to talk to.)

Cheap and cheerful for enterprises: iPad 2 ROI

Finally, Cox of Network World, Geoff Simon of Technorati, and several other folks commented that the lowering of the price for the iPad 2 might just be the ticket for the enterprise IT departments. “Starting at just $399, the iPad2 with 16GB is perfect as an enterprise-level business tool," says Simon. "For enterprise, the promise of skyrocketing ROI is what makes the iPad so irresistible.” Simon believes enterprises will start with productivity and process management tools, eventually moving more toward business intelligence capabilities.

Leaving competitors in the dust?

Is this demand the same for all tablets? Schadler of Forrester and a number of data points say no: the other devices aren’t getting the same uptake or interest. Carmody of Wired reported that in his interview Schadler wasn’t “quite so bullish on other tablets” (including forthcoming Windows 8-related efforts), given Apple’s head start and the consumer-driven preferences of people selecting their own devices (read: Apple).

The projects that we’re working on at Framehawk seem to match this thinking: iPad projects are under consideration first, everything else after that. (I posted some relative adoption stats in a previous blog if you’re interested.) A round-up of analyst reports from Apple’s announcement continues the lovefest – with general agreement that Apple has lapped its competitors.

Either way, the era of tablets (which Apple ushered in in the first place) is certainly being accelerated by the newly announced iPad. And despite little commentary from Apple, that impact is definitely stretching far into the enterprise.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Catching up with some crazy mobile and tablet adoption stats for the enterprise

As I’ve been settling in to my gig at Framehawk, I’ve been continuing to watch the cloud computing marketing closely (hello to everyone at Cloud Connect in Santa Clara this week). However, I’ve also been expanding that focus to mobility and how that relates to the enterprise market.

I’m finding a barrage of new stats about adoption come out almost daily. They are worth noting because this market is so new. And, even for those immersed in it day-to-day, they are pretty crazy.

I made note of a bunch of data points about mobile devices and the enterprise from my trip to CES a few weeks back and from articles in various trade journals as they have appeared recently. We’ve tweeted a few of them from @Framehawk; I thought I’d share a few of them here as well. Any conversation about the consumerization of IT or an enterprise’s “bring your own device” (BYOD) policy is going to start from (or certainly be colored by) these stats.

Frankly, lots of tablets

For something that didn’t exist only a few years ago, the tablet market has been downright explosive. It even pulled me in last year. According to research from the Displaysearch division of NDP, I bought one of the 72.7 million tablets sold in 2011. That was a 252% increase over 2010 -- the year the iPad made its debut.

And the growth isn’t showing any signs of stopping. Tablet sales are expected to grow 38.8% and hit approximately 248.6 million units sold by 2015, according to predictions from Transparency Market Research.

In the enterprise (the market we’re tracking closely at Framehawk), there is currently 1 tablet request for every 3 smartphones, says a Cisco survey.

It’s (currently) all about the iPad in the enterprise

From what the numbers say, and what we at Framehawk are hearing from customers, the enterprise market is currently all about the iPad. There are other devices that are being talked about, but only as a distant second choice. At least, for now.

However, just before CES, Sarah Rotman Epps of Forrester quoted some numbers saying that the percent of U.S. shoppers that preferred Android jumped from 9 to 18% in the first 9 months of 2011. During that same period, the number of folks that would actually prefer Windows dropped from 46 to 25% (still placing it higher than the numbers for Android).

Of course, as new form factors appear, and the initial “cool factor” of the iPad wears off, its dominance could fade. For example, Framehawk’s own CTO, Stephen Vilke, took a particular liking to the Samsung Galaxy Note he saw at CES, stylus and all ("This may sound crazy, but the stylus is more natural for a guy like me who spent his school years with a pen or pencil in my hand," said Stephen in a recent CNET article on the topic).

As new devices launch and gain adoption at the expense of others, enterprises must be ready to react.

After initial caution, enterprises are being more aggressive about adopting tablets

Despite a reputation for moving slowly, enterprise IT seems to be jumping into the adoption of tablets faster than you might expect.

After “testing the waters” in 2011, according to a Forrester report, companies are expected to buy $10 billion worth of iPads this year and $16 billion in 2013. This lends credence to some stats from Apple from October 2011 purporting that 93% of Fortune 500 companies have deployed or are testing iPads.

I’d definitely believe that projects to test how best to make use of these devices have sprung up nearly everywhere in the enterprise, despite a few hold-outs prohibiting their use for official purposes. On the other hand, production deployments, from what I can tell, are less likely at the moment, though there’s intense pressure to get there – and to do so quickly.

What will the impact of all this be in the enterprise?

This is a lot of change to absorb, especially for big organizations. People are getting used to how and when to use tablets versus their other computing devices. In fact, an IDG Connect study reported that 16% of their respondents claim their iPad has replaced their PC.

I find it unlikely (as did a few of my Twitter followers) that this 16% actually handed back their PCs, but the point is an interesting one. What devices does the IT infrastructure team need to optimize for now? What devices should be considered important by the mobile application development team? And is there a way to take all of these changes and uncertainties in stride?

Stay tuned…I’ll be tackling some of those questions (and, yes, highlighting some of ways Framehawk might help) in the near future.

In the meantime, let me know of any other jaw-dropping stats worth adding to this list. And, if you’re interested in any others that we dig up, follow @Framehawk – we tweet some of the more intriguing ones as we find them.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

In honor of Cloud Expo, 5 cloud computing predictions for 2012

Jeremy Geelan of Sys-Con asked me to pull out my cloud computing crystal ball a few months early this year. He had me join a bunch of other folks working in the cloud space to look ahead at what 2012 has in store.

Jeremy posted the 2012 cloud predictions article in the lead-up to Cloud Expo in Santa Clara (flashback: here’s my take on last year’s Silicon Valley event, timed well with a certain Bay Area baseball team's World Series victory). The cloud prognostication post featured thoughts from people like Peter Coffee of salesforce.com, Christian Reilly of Bechtel (yes, he’s back there by way of Cloud.com and Citrix), Krishnan Subramanian of Cloud Ave, Brian Gracely of Cisco, Ellen Rubin of CloudSwitch (now Verizon), and Randy Bias of Cloudscaling, many of whom are past or current speakers at the Cloud Expo event.

As for my portion of the list, it’s an amalgamation of what I’ve seen maturing in this space from my years at private cloud pioneer Cassatt Corp., the work I did building the cloud business at CA Technologies, plus new perspectives from my first few months at my still-stealthy New Thing. On that last front, you’ll notice the word “mobility” makes it into my list a lot more often than it might have a few months ago.

Here are my 2012 cloud computing predictions, excerpted from the longer list:

The consumer convinces the enterprise that cloud is cool. Things like iCloud and Amazon’s Cloud Drive help get your average consumer comfortable with cloud. Consumer acceptance goes a long way to convincing the enterprise that this model is worth investigating – and deploying to. “There might be something to this cloud thing after all….” This, of course, accelerates the adoption of cloud and causes a bunch of changes in the role of IT. It’s all about orchestrating services – and IT’s business cards, mission statements, and org charts change accordingly.

Enterprises start to think about “split processing” – doing your computing where you are and in the cloud. Pressure from mobile devices and the “split browser” idea from things like Amazon Silk lead people to consider doing heavyweight processing in locations other than where the user is interacting. It’s a great model for working with that myriad of mobile devices that have limited processing power (and battery life) that IT is working feverishly to figure out how to support. Somehow.

Using Big Data in the cloud becomes as common as, well, data. Given the rise of NoSQL databases and the ecosystem around Hadoop and related approaches, companies begin to understand that collecting and using massive amounts of data isn’t so hard any more. The cloud makes processing all this information possible without having to build the infrastructure permanently in your data center. And it’s pretty useful in making smart business choices.

The industry moves on from the “how is the infrastructure built and operated?” conversation and thinks instead about what you can do with cloud. This may sound like wishful thinking, but the nuts and bolts of how to use cloud computing are starting to coalesce sufficiently that fewer discussions need to pick apart the ways to deliver IaaS and the like. The small, smart service providers move up the stack and leave the commodity stuff to Amazon and Rackspace, finding niches for themselves in delivering new service capabilities. (Read profiles of some service providers doing this kind of thing in my most recent "interview" posts.) Finally, enterprises can have a more useful conversation -- not about how do we make this work, but about how our business can benefit. The question now becomes: what new business can come from the cloud model?

Applications become disposable. Enterprises will start to leverage the on-demand nature of cloud computing and take a page from the user experience of tablet and smartphone apps. The result: thinking about applications and their deployment less monolithically. The cloud will help enterprises make smarter decisions about how to handle their processing needs, and give them a way to do on-demand app distribution to both customers and employees. This will open up new options for access, even to older legacy applications. Enterprises will also start to evolve applications into smaller functional chunks -- like iPad or iPhone apps.

Topics worth watching

So, those are some things I think are worth watching for in 2012. Feel free to clip this list and save it on your fridge for a comparison at the end of next year. I’d also advise taking a look at what the other cloud folks that Jeremy rounded up thought were in need of a mention, too.

Even if any one of us is way off on what is actually going to happen in 2012, the overall list is a good guide to some really key issues for the next 12 months. And it will be a pretty good list of cloud computing buzz topics both onstage and on the floor at Cloud Expo. And, I'd bet, for several cloud events to come.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Steve Jobs' not-so-accidental role in the consumerization of enterprise IT

There was a wistful feeling that hit me (and from the sounds of it, many of us in Silicon Valley) last Wednesday when I heard about the loss of Steve Jobs.

After pausing for a moment or two to take in his career as a whole, that melancholy quickly turned to something close to amazement. It is hard not to be amazed at all Steve had been able to accomplish. He somehow brought a simple beauty to
technology that had previously been complex and, well, stodgy at best.

However, in the flood of tributes and “what I learned from Steve” articles that came after, the ones about Steve’s impact on enterprise IT were some of the ones that I found more controversial.

How Steve put consumer pressure on enterprise IT

Lisa Schmeiser’s InfoWorld article, for example, caught my eye because it underscored many of the points I thought were so amazing about Steve in the first place. Under his direction, Apple created devices that were so great, you wanted to use them. First for personal tasks. Then for everything. In this way,Apple and Jobs went from “always being an outside force” (as Joe McKendrick of ZDNet put it) to turning up the consumerization pressure on enterprise IT in a big way.

How did he do it? Like Lisa, I think the consumerization of IT push owes a lot of its strength to the iPod. I certainly fell for it. For me, that innocent iPod Shuffle I got as a Christmas present was the gateway drug for me to buy my way up the chain. Next came a Nano, a full-sized iPod, another Shuffle, an iPhone for the wife, 2 more Shuffles for the kids, at last an iPad, and most recently a MacBook Air.

And while I didn’t use the iPods at work (much), the iPad and the Air instantly became part of my work life, given how they helped me get my work done better (and despite some reservations about the iPad by the IT department at my company at the time).

Was his impact on enterprise IT accidental?

“Steve Jobs's disregard for enterprise IT was not a secret,” writes Lisa in her article. “Yet without him, there would be no consumerization of IT. He entirely changed the nature of enterprise computing -- accidentally.”

This is where I have a hard time with Lisa’s article. I agree with a tweet I saw by @robhof: Lisa’s premise that all this was accidental on the part of Steve Jobs misses the point. I think part of his genius was to make it seem accidental, but it to be part of a bigger plan. Or at least part of a logical evolution.

Mixing “insanely great” with enterprise IT

My feeling is this: when you design things to be “insanely great” and to delight the human beings that are supposed to be using your product, it isn’t that odd that they want to use those very same products in all parts of their lives. Personal and work. And enterprise IT would be a bit foolish not to figure out how to embrace what these devices can do eventually. That pressure on large company IT orgs is very real (from what I’ve seen) and today is coming from all sides. That’s an opportunity for both IT and the vendors in this space to help make this possible.

And it won’t stop with hardware. I think we’ll find that the App Store/iTunes metaphor will become the dominant way that software gets purchased going forward. It may have started with Amazon-style on-line stores, but Apple perfected it with music and quickly pivoted to applications, too. The software and mobile industries have learned from this and will never look back. Things like the Android marketplace and even the Cloud Commons effort I helped get underway at CA Technologies (my previous employer) were driven or at least inspired by this approach.

I think seeing all this as accidental on the part of Steve Jobs is probably not right. Jobs had his focus on the only thing that matters, whether the initial target is consumers or enterprise IT – human beings.

Dave Ohara’s Green Data Center Blog pointed me toward a Jobs quote that underscores this. “One of the things I’ve always found is that you’ve got to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology.” He may not have been plotting to take over every aspect of IT, but Jobs certainly picked the best way to do it: whatever you create, create it well so human beings want to use it.

Thankfully, enough time to reflect

The news of Steve’s death leaves a hole, for sure. The way it played out, I thought, was actually kind of fitting. By stepping down from his role as Apple’s CEO in August, Steve gave people a rare chance for reflection (I collected and posted some of my favorite Steve Jobs stories published at the time). Whether he meant to or not, he afforded the industry a chance to say good-bye while he was still alive.

Hopefully he also had the chance to see how much of a difference he made. And how much that difference was appreciated.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Bridging the mobility (and fashion) divide: can enterprise IT think more like the consumer world?

GigaOm’s Mobilize 2011 conference last week seemed to be a tale of two worlds – the enterprise world and the consumer world – and how they can effectively incorporate mobility into their day-to-day business. And in some cases, how they are failing to do that.

I could feel that some of the speakers (like Steve Herrod of VMware and Tom Gillis of Cisco) were approaching some of the mobility issues on the table with their traditional big, complex, enterprise-focused world firmly in view. Of course, that approach also values robustness, reliability, and incremental improvements. It’s what enterprises and their IT departments reward, and rightly so.

But there was another group of speakers at Mobilize, too: those who come at things with the consumer world front and center. Mobility was certainly not optional for these guys. Another telling difference: the first thing on the mind of these folks was user experience. This included the speakers from Pandora, Twitter, and Instagram, among others.

Even fashion was a dead give-away

In what seemed like an incidental observation at first, I’d swear you could tell what side of this enterprise/consumer divide someone would fall on based on how Mobilize speakers and attendees were dressed. The enterprise-trained people in the room (and I have no choice but to begrudgingly put myself in this category) were sporting dress shirts, slacks, and shiny shoes. Those that were instead part of the mobile generation were much more casual, in a simplistically chic sort of way. Jeans, definitely. Plus a comfortable shirt that looked a bit hipper. And most definitely not tucked in.

This latter group talked about getting to the consumer, with very cool ideas and cooler company names, putting a premium on the user experience. Of course, many of these were also still in search of a real, sustainable business model.

So, GigaOm did a good job of bringing these two camps together, and giving them a place to talk through the issues. The trick now? Make sure the two contingents don’t talk past each other and instead learn what the other has to offer to bridge this divide.

Impatience with the enterprise IT approach?

In conversations with blogger and newly minted GigaOm contributor Dave O’Hara (@greenm3) and others at the event, I got a feeling that some of the folks immersed in the mobile side of the equation don’t have a good feel for the true extent of what enterprise adoption of a lot of these still-nascent technologies can mean, revenue-wise especially. Nor do they have a good understanding of all the steps required to make it happen in IT big organizations.

Getting enterprises to truly embrace what mobility can mean for them faces many of the same hurdles I’ve seen over the past few years with cloud computing. Even if the concepts seem good, enterprise adoption is not always as simple as it seems like it should be. Or as fast as those with consumer experience would expect or want.

That’s where maybe folks with an enterprise bent, I think (selfishly, probably) can have a useful role. If you can get enterprise IT past the initial knee-jerk “no way are you bringing that device into my world” reaction, there are some great places that these new, smart, even beautiful mobile devices could make a difference.

Getting the enterprises to listen

The mobile trends being identified at Mobilize 2011 were on target in many cases, but in some cases even the lingo could have rubbed those with enterprise backgrounds the wrong way – or seemed slightly tone-deaf to what enterprises have to deal with.

Olof Schybergson (@Olof_S), CEO of Fjord, made some really intriguing points, for example, about key mobile service trends: digital is becoming physical. The economy of mash-up services needs orchestrators. Privacy is now a kind of currency. And, the user is the new operating system when it comes to thinking about mobile services.

There were many good thoughts there that IT guys in a large organization would probably take as logical, or even a given. But that last point, the bit about the user being an OS, just doesn’t ring true, and would probably get a few of the enterprise IT guys to scratch their heads.

The user isn’t the OS; he or she is the design point and the most important entity – the one calling the shots. Instead, the user is really the focal point of the design for integrating mobile devices into the existing environment.

Consumerization is pressuring enterprise mobility

But many of the right issues came up in Philippe Winthrop’s panel on mobility in the enterprise.

Bob Tinker from MobileIron believed that this is indeed all coming together nicely and we’ll look back and see that “2011 was the year that mobile IT was born. It was the year that the IT industry figured out mobile. It’s the year the mobile industry figured out IT.” Why? For no other reason than there is no other option. And, people are themselves becoming more tech savvy, something he called the “ITization of the consumer.”

Chuck Goldman from Apperian noted that there is considerable pressure on the C-suite in large enterprises not just to begin to figure out how to incorporate a broad array of mobile devices, but to “build apps that are not clunky.”

Tinker agreed that the IT consumerization effect is significant. “Users are expecting the same level of mobility they have in their consumer world in their workplace. And I think the ramifications for this are fairly profound.” That seems to be the underlying set-up for much of what’s happening in the enterprise around mobility, for sure.

Mobility is causing disruption…and opportunity

Which begs the question: who is looking at the integration of consumer and enterprise approaches in the right way to bridge this gap? At Mobilize, Cisco and VMware certainly were talking about doing so. I saw tweets from the Citrix analyst symposium from the week before about some of the efforts they are doing to try to connect the dots here.

But mobile will turn IT on its head, said Tinker in the panel. And it will rearrange the winners and losers in the vendor space along the way. “Look at the traditional IT industry and ask how will they adapt to mobile. Many of them will not,” said Tinker.

To me, this signals a market with a lot of opportunity. Especially to innovate in a way or at a speed that makes it hard for some of these larger companies to deliver on. Frankly, it’s one of the opportunity areas that my New Thing is definitely immersed in. And I expect other start-ups to do the same.

Another golden chance for IT to lead

Apperian’s Goldman believes that this is a great chance for IT, in much same way that I’ve argued cloud computing can be. The move to adopt mobility as part of a company’s mainstream way of delivering IT means that “IT has an opportunity here that is golden,” said Goldman. “It gives them the opportunity to be thought leaders. Once you start doing that, your employees start loving IT and that love translates into good will” and impacts your organization’s top and bottom lines.

Loving IT? To most, that sounds like crazy talk.

It certainly won’t be easy. Getting ahead of the curve on IT consumerization and mobility requires a bit of imagination on the side of the enterprises, and a bit of patience and process-orientation by the folks who understand mobile. It will require people who have been steeped in enterprise IT, but are willing to buck the trend and try something new. It will require people with mobility chops who can sit still long enough to crack into a serious enterprise.

As for my part in this, it probably also means I’ll have to learn to wear jeans more often. Or at least leave my shirt untucked. And, frankly, I’m OK with that. I’ll keep you posted on both my take on this evolving market and my fashion sense.