2013 is upon us, budgets are locked and people are looking forward, with great anticipation to the rewards 2013 will surely bring. Many look upon a new year as an opportunity, a time to make adjustments, course correct, set goals and focus on the positive. In my house, one is graduating college, he will get a job (that is the plan, anyway). One is graduating high school, he will go to college and the third will be firmly entrenched in middle school (the teenage equivalent to purgatory).
As far as predictions go, if we really want to go out on a limb, we should focus on 2014, 2013 is too easy (it is after all, already here). Why look further out? A lesson learned from my dad when I first learned to drive, “focus a bit further ahead”, he would say,” it makes the experience much smoother for your passengers”. It makes logical sense, make slight course corrections as you go, but generally look as far out as you can. Much of what will happen for the next few months was determined by our actions at the end of last year. I plan to work hard in 2013 and try to keep the right as smooth as possible. From a predictions standpoint, I am going to skip 2013.
Where we will be in 2014:
- Cloud becomes the default position, then we will all realize it is actually a hybrid model
- We might stop arguing about definitions, buzzwords that fizzle
- The FAA and FCC will decide that phones are ‘ok’ on airplanes, we will all complain
- The CIO and CMO will be best of friends, like a shotgun wedding
- Customer Centricity will be a reality, not just a Vision
- Something not yet on our radar, will cause a major disruption
Cloud – Maybe, just maybe, we will realize that cloud computing is really an extension of a concept created in the 1950s, but the time has come. Everyone will realize that Cloud Computing is simply a metaphor for the things I need computers to do. I need storage, to store stuff, I need CPUs to compute stuff and I need to do both of these things a lot. Deciding to extend your enterprise (personal or company) to the cloud is a business decision that frankly comes down to economics, governance and law. Hence, this will be the job description for the CIO; to evaluate the economic and legal benefit of renting compute time versus buying a computer. The default position for IT will be Cloud first, then On-Premise.
Definitions/Buzzwords – Sadly, it will take another year or more before ‘Social’ will no longer be an important prefix to every business and technology term we have been using since the 1950s. This includes, but will not be limited to: business, customer, marketing, monitoring, networks, CRM and media. We will no longer feel the need to append the suffix ‘Cloud’ on: private, personal, hybrid, open, nor elastic. ‘Cloud’ might just going back to being something related to weather. ‘Mobile’, everything will be mobile, so it will lose its luster and appeal as a descriptor. Influencer will take a backseat to real world Friend.
Airplanes – We will fight for the use of mobile phones on airplanes and the wish we didn’t. We will most certainly become very annoyed with the ringtone in the seat next to us, almost as annoyed as with the person trying to have a conversation talking loudly and saying “WHAT” in order to overcome the engine noise. My last bastion of a ‘leave me alone’ place will be lost. This will make us sad, then angry. By 2015 is that certain flights (like New York/Boston or San Francisco/Seattle) will be designated as NO cell phone flights, like the “quiet car” on the commuter rail.
CMO/CIO – Hatfields/McCoys, Yankees/Red Sox, Barcelona/Real Madrid – ok, maybe not that bad, but you get the point. The CMO has a job to do and has enjoyed the freedom of SaaS. Shadow IT is still going strong, but the CIO is doing their best to gain some control, without appearing to be controlling. The CIO has a tough job, as does the CMO. The best path to success is to work together. The key driver here is going to be the sheer volume of data (buzzword avoided) required to gain a competitive advantage. The CMO will not be able to go it alone, they will need help. Yes, the CMO will have a much greater purchasing authority, possibly surpassing the CIO for technology; but they will need some help. Frenemies to the end!
Customer Centric – Companies who do not put the customer front and center, understand their jobs-to-be-done and learn to co-create value with their customers, through value-in-use will not be doing very well. This is what customer centricity is about. We will spend 2013 talking about it more, trying to understand it better and ready to execute in 2014.
Disruption – Something not even on our radar will cause major disruption. It is hard to say exactly what this is, or will be, but it is lurking, waiting to pounce. If I knew exactly what it was, I would be planning for it.
My focus for 2013? Context…
The word for 2013 is ‘Context’. Context will help (me at least) in the transition from what and why, to how. I will be spending a lot of time in 2013 working to understand the proper context of, data, information and timing; mostly to determine relevance.
If you would like some help getting from here to there, feel free to give me a call!
- “DVD Player, Check”
- “LeapPad, Check”
- “Discman, Check”
- “Laptop, Check”
- “Car Chargers, Check”
“Ok, the kids are ready for the car ride!”
- “iPhone 4S, Check”
- “iPad 2, Check”
- “KindleFire, Check”
- “Macbook Air, Check”
- (Batteries last all day)
“Ok, I am ready to go to work now”
The Back Story
For those of you who can remember way back in the day; you know, when your work computer was faster than your personal one and you had a 17″ monitor in the office, but only a 14″ at home. The download speed at the office rocked (work had this thing called a “T1”). The Ink-Jet printer at home did not hold a candle the color laser printer at work, and you were on the list to get a company mobile phone. ‘Cyber Monday’ actually can trace its roots back to different time as well, because we had to go to work to shop online. Then Bubble 1.0 happened and the real benefit to us is that we got buy the better computer at home, pay for the better bandwidth, and buy our own mobile phone – no, wait, this was better? The result: your own devices are better, faster and bit of a status symbol (or fashion statement, as my daughter would suggest) and best of all – The IT guy cannot get his grubby hands on your device!
Fast forward to the current landscape and these personal devices are even more valuable, why? Between Dropbox, Box.net, Gmail, GoogleDocs, Office365; iPads, iPhones, Galaxy and Samsung (Thumb drives are so 2000), all my data is in the cloud and I can get to it from any and all devices. Unfortunately, as a business, you have no idea where all the documents are located, where information is stored and how to cut access if needed (much less avoid copies). The funny thing is that the critical files still go missing while the Christmas party video of the boss has gone viral and will never disappear. This might not be the “Big Data” problem everyone is talking about, but it is a data problem and it is big. It is easy to send files to my Kindle email, synchronize my files across between my Desktop, iPad and iPhone using DropBox, Box.net is plan B (but still good) and when I want to make sure I have a presentation available I upload it to three different clouds and still email it to Gmail simply to make sure it lives on 2 mail servers. My description is not without hyperbole, as most standard business users do not need to go to such lengths, but how far off am I, really?
Is this a Data Problem or a Device Problem?
Among the most interesting aspects of this entire conversation is that people are more productive, if they are happy. If you told them to do all of the above, there would be a revolt for sure, but since it was their idea, their choice, you are best to just deal with it (Anyone with kids, gets this concept without question). I have recently begun an experiment, where I gave up my laptop, exchanged for an iPad (still have a desktop at home). It has not been without struggles, but so far so good. I am trying out the KindleFire, and I will eventually decide which device I like best and I will stick with it, until I change my mind.
What is the relevance here, and how and why do businesses care? In order to move forward, it might be a good idea to think about what IBM thinks on the topic. (I will give the source in a moment):
“Part of the beauty of pervasive computing is that we will not even realize that it is here, once it has become a necessary part of our lives. In the future it will often be invisible, and the user interface will be intuitive. The other important part of the story is that it will all be networked. Data, once entered, will never have to be entered again, but will be readily available whenever and wherever needed.”
The source: “A look at human interaction with pervasive computers” Ark and Selker, IBM Systems Journal (PDF). What is most interesting to me is the date of the publication, July 29, 1999. Look around and many people are saying/talking/writing about this just now, but it has been top of mine for many years. The paper goes on to share the following:
“Computers will not only be increasingly mobile, but information will be accessible from any mobile position. We should not have to carry around devices containing our information. Rather, devices will recognize who we are and obtain information about us, through “remembrance agents” or adaptive user models, Internet information storage, or other means.
Information appliances have human-computer interfaces. An information appliance should be easy for anyone to use and the interaction with the device should be intuitive. Careful design is critical for an intuitive interaction with the device. Although the desktop computer can do many things, this functionality can be separated into more appropriate devices. Some examples of successful popular devices are cellular phones, pagers, televisions, wristwatches, and toasters. Of course, there can be times when these devices become difficult to use, but in their basic form, they meet the criteria for information appliances.”
I suppose that the question above, in bold, is actually incorrect. It is neither a data, nor a device problem, it is an interface problem. With a focus on jobs to be done; I have a job to do, I know what I need to get it done. Every organization simply needs to facilitate my ability and capability. Gone are the days that we can simply sit someone down at a desk and say: “Here is your PC, there is the printer, here is your password for the domain, have a good day”. In order to be productive, the workforce of today and tomorrow has very specific preferences, and we would be wise to consider those preferences. Will it be as exciting when work gives me an iPad?…
This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet.