Massive Mobile Shifts and Keeping Score

As the first quarter of 2013 has come to a close, we see a technology industry moving at an accelerated pace. Consumerization is driving a faster level of change, with consequent impacts on technology ecosystem and the companies occupying different perches. From rapidly growing BYOD demand to the projected demise of the PC, we are seeing consumers shift their computing choices much faster than corporations, and some suppliers struggling to keep up. These rapid shifts require corporate IT groups to follow more quickly in their services. From implementing MDM (mobile device management), to increasing the bandwidth of wireless networks to adopting tablets and smartphones as the primary customer interfaces for future development, IT teams must adjust to ensure effective services and a competitive parity or advantage.

Let’s start with mobile. Consumers today use their smartphones to conduct much of their everyday business. And they use the devices if not for the entire transaction, then often to research or initiate the transaction. The lifeblood of most retail commerce has heavily shifted to the mobile channel. Thus, companies must have significant and effective mobile presence to achieve competitive advantage (or even survive). Mobile has become the first order of delivery for company services. Next in importance is the internet and then internal systems for call centers and staff. And since the vast majority of mobile devices (smartphone or tablet) are not Windows-based (nor is the internet), application development shops need to build or augment current Windows-oriented skills to enable native mobile development. Back end systems must be re-engineered to more easily support mobile apps.  And given your company’s competitive edge may be determined by its mobile apps, you need to be cautious about fully outsourcing this critical work.

Internally such devices are becoming a pervasive feature in the corporate landscape. It is important to be able to accommodate many of the choices of your company’s staff and yet still secure and manage the client device environment. Thus, implementations of MDM to manage these devices and enable corporate security on the portion of the device that contains company data are increasing at a rapid pace. Further, while relatively few companies currently have a corporate app store, this will become prevalent feature within a few years and companies will shift from a ‘push’ model of software deployment to a ‘pull’ model. Further consequences of the rapid adoption of mobile devices by staff include such items as needing to implement wireless at your company sites, adding visitor wireless capabilities (like a Starbucks wifi), or just increasing the capacity to handle the additional load (a 50% increase in internal wifi demand in January is not unheard as everyone returns to the office with their Christmas gifts).

A further consequence of the massive shift to smartphones and tablets is the diminishing reach and impact of Microsoft based on Gartner latest analysis and projections. The shift away from PCs and towards tablets in the consumer markets reduces the largest revenue sources of Microsoft. It is stunning to realize that Microsoft with its long consumer market history, could become ever more dependent on the enterprise versus consumer market. Yet, because the consumer’s choices are rapidly making inroads into the corporate device market, even this will be a safe harbor for only a limited time. With Windows 8, Microsoft tried to address both markets with one OS platform, perhaps not succeeding well in either. A potential outcome for Microsoft is to introduce the reported ‘Blue’ OS version which will be a complete touch interface (versus a hybrid touch and traditional). Yet, Microsoft has struggled to gain traction against Android and iOS tablets and smartphones, so it is hard to see how this will yield significant share improvement. And with new Chrome devices and a reputed cheap iPhone coming, perhaps even Gartner’s projections for Microsoft are optimistic. The last overwhelming consumer OS competitive success Microsoft had was against OS/2 and IBM — Apple iOS and Google Android are far different competitors! With the consumer space exceedingly difficult to make much headway, my top prediction for 2013 is that Microsoft will subsequently introduce a new Windows ‘classic’ to satisfy the millions of corporate desktops where touch interfaces are inadequate or application have not been redesigned. Otherwise, enterprises may sit pat on the current versions for an extended period, depriving Microsoft of critical revenue streams. Subsequent to the 1st version of this post, there were reports of Microsoft introducing Windows 8 stripped of the ‘Metro’ or touch interface! Corporate IT shops need to monitor these outcomes because once a shift occurs, there could be a rapid transition not just in the OS, but in the productivity suites and email as well.

There is also upheaval in the PC supplier base as a result of the worldwide sales decline of 13.9% (year over year in Q1). Also predicted here in January, HP struggled the most among the top 3 of HP, Lenovo and Dell. HP was down almost 24%, barely retaining the title of top volume manufacturer. Lenovo was flat, delivering the best performance in a declining market. Lenovo delivered 11.7 million units in the quarter, just below HP’s 12 million units. Dell suffered a 10.9% drop, which given the company is up for sale, is remarkable. Acer and other smaller firms saw major drops in sales as well (more than 31% for Acer). The ongoing decline of the market will see massive impact on the smaller market participants, with consolidation and fallout likely occurring late this year and early in 2014. The real question is whether HP can turn around their rapid decline. It will be a difficult task because the smartphone, tablet and Chrome book onslaught is occurring when HP is facing a rejuvenated Lenovo and a very aggressive Dell. Ultrabooks will provide some margin and volume improvement, but not enough to make up for the declines. Current course suggests that early 2014 will see a declining market where Lenovo is comfortably leading followed by a lagging HP fighting tooth and nail with Dell for 2nd place. HP must pull off a major product refresh, supply chain tightening, and aggressive sales to turn it around. It will be a tall order.

Perhaps the next consumerization influence will be the greater use of desktop video. Many of our employees have experienced the pretty good video of Skype or Facetime and potentially will be expecting similar experiences in the corporate conversations. Current internal networks often do not have the bandwidth for such casual and common video interactions, especially for smaller campuses or remote offices. It will be important for IT shops to manage the introduction of the capabilities so that more critical workload is not impacted.

How is your company’s progress on mobile? do you have an app store? Have you implemented desktop video? I look forward to hearing from you.

Best, Jim Ditmore

About Jim D

Jim has worked in the IT field for over 25 years and as a senior leader for over 15 years. He has successfully turned around a number of IT shops to become high performing teams and a competitive advantage for their companies.
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