Now ask yourself, on the 28th of June 2007 (the day before Apple released the iPhone) what would you have been reading this on and where? How about going back a further 12 years to 1995 before the Internet consumed our free time with cat memes and we lost our ability to engage in a conversation?
All hyperbole aside, mobile technology has been busy radically transforming the world around us, both at work and at home. This isn’t news to anybody. The question I ask is how much has it changed our working life? Has it been for the better? Are we truly mobile workers or has work found a way to be with us all the time?
Let’s wind back to
It was most likely a chunky desktop computer with vendors such as IBM/Apple/Compaq dominating market. Laptops were beginning to become a realistic alternative for some but still far from mainstream.
Depending on your computer there were a few options but most of us were eagerly awaiting the much hyped Windows 95 release in August of that year, however the reality is we were all still stuck on Windows 3.1x until our business made the switch.
Cables, cables, cables. If you had a connection, you were tethered to a desk somewhere. Cumbersome coax and T-connectors were rapidly giving way to thin blue Ethernet cables at the office but if you were at home you had the dulcet tones of a 2400 or 9600 baud dial-up modem.
Does anybody remember the IBM Simon? Unlikely! Now while it didn’t exactly fly off the shelf, it was revolutionary. Simon was the first cellular phone to include telephone and PDA features in one device. Simon aside, Nokia and Motorola dominated the phone market. I can only imagine how their execs must look back and smile at this uncomplicated and uncompetitive era of mobile phones.
The flip chart era! Whiteboards and flip charts were still very much mainstream and most meetings were done face to face. With the adoption of (sometimes very costly) projectors, “Death by PowerPoint” became the norm and the conference industry boomed.
Limited by today’s standards but revolutionary at the time. Sure, you had some Internet access at work and could take your laptop home… but the boss (either the one at home or at work!) could always call you on your mobile phone. Internet at home? Ha!
Fast Forward to
Laptops are now mainstream and thanks to commoditisation of the devices a large percentage of the workforce has them. Brands like Samsung, Dell, Acer, Toshiba, Lenovo, Asus and HP have either been introduced, merged or shifted into the computer/device market. Apple after a number of years in the wilderness are on a resurgence, little did we know they were not just on the incoming tidal wave but they created it!
Vista had bombed, XP was still mainstream and Microsoft was in their element building hype around the much anticipated “Project Blackcomb”, or as we know it today, Windows 7. Blackberry users had a Mobile OS but we didn’t call it a Mobile OS yet… oh how things were about to change.
Internet was everywhere. Home wi-fi had exploded but many companies still hesitated in deploying wi-fi due to security concerns (remember WEP?). However the biggest change was mobile data. Mobile phone companies were increasingly struggling to deliver basic data services to our phones across their 2G networks.
Check out this review for a mobile phone flashback. Does anyone even remember the Samsung D840? And was I the only one that actually owned a Sony Ericsson W880i? I’m sure it made sense at the time for Sony to use the Walkman brand, but it seems somewhat laughable now.
By 2007 there were a number of enterprise tools helping staff be more productive through better collaboration. WebEx was just starting to make a name for itself as a content sharing platform and had been acquired by Cisco. Video usage was still limited but quickly becoming a viable alternative to reduce costly travel for business meetings. At this point we knew we could build more productive environments… it was just going to take some experimentation.
Work now follows you everywhere. Between email on your laptop and your mobile phone you can stay in contact 24/7. With an internet connection and your laptop you can both present and participate in meetings with colleagues from around the world.
is just one of the devices which keeps you connected. However, in addition to all of our smart phones, tablets, phablets and latest wearable tech, most of us can’t escape the laptop. If you’re like me, you’re still in love with your Apple MacBook Air, but could have found a practical friend in HP or Lenovo. Watch out though… change is on the horizon again with Microsoft’s Surface setting a new standard in tablet computing.
OSX is still a thriving religion but with XP no longer supported. Your Enterprise is quickly embracing Windows 8. However that isn’t your only OS. Our lives are increasingly influenced by Apple iOS and Google Android as these once mobile OSes find themselves in our watches, televisions and fridges… welcome to the Internet of Things!
is only 1% phone. The other 99% of the time you’re using it for email, SMS, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Yammer, LinkedIn, WhatsApp and even Foursquare (which, contrary to popular belief, is still around?!). You can’t live without your phone but frequently fantasise about spending some time without cell coverage. Did someone say “Digital Detox”?
is everywhere. You sit at home streaming Netflix HD movies on your Wi-Fi network then walk out the door and instantly switch to 4G. We no longer experience network congestion at sporting events and even thought of being disconnected brings on the cold sweats. We are simultaneously and instantly connected to billions of people around the world. Think about it… billions.
is now simple and intuitive, for some. Unfortunately many companies continue to struggle with their disparate legacy solutions now under siege from consumer app adoption and the emergence of the “Business Consumer”. NEWS FLASH… Your problems are only going to get worse unless you stop talking about technology and start focusing on business outcomes.
We can now work from anywhere, with anyone, in whatever way makes sense to us. In the last year I’ve participated in video meetings while stuck in traffic, delivered PowerPoint presentations from an iPad while enjoying breakfast at a café, and I’ve brainstormed new ideas with my team via social networking tools. Today, information exchange is fluid and decisions can be made rapidly!
Given current course and speed, it’s fair to say we’ll be more connected using cheaper, smaller and more powerful devices… so what’s new? Well, more than you might think. Two areas I’m really excited about are “The Internet of Things” and the rise and rise of “Shadow IT”.
The Internet of Things will connect the currently unconnected. With less than 1% of the world’s devices already connected, the world is about to change forever – and as a network junkie, I’m totally excited. Wrist bands monitor your health statistics, reporting back to a cloud-based service that provides medical advice. Street lights with flood censors provide real-time information for use by emergency services. Garbage bins with weight sensors determine the optimum route through the streets for garbage trucks. If you can connect it, you can monitor it. If you can monitor it, you can make better, faster decisions.
Just like a star going supernova, Shadow IT will explode – bringing with it devastating change to many in IT – and then disappear. In today’s terms, Shadow IT commonly refers to technology investments made by staff without input, procurement, management or governance provided by the IT department. Traditional IT is failing to keep up with business expectations and technology investment decisions are increasingly made by the business stakeholders based upon business
outcomes, not technology. Looking ahead, this pattern will continue until the IT department that we know today will disappear. In its place we’ll find a service management function. And when that happens, Shadow IT is IT.
Of course I could be wrong. But in this new era of connectedness where the “how” has given way to the “why”, and once simple users have become a swarm of savvy Business Consumers, I look forward to what I believe is inevitable change underpinned by boundless opportunities to create, consume and share not only ideas, but experiences with friends, family and colleagues alike. As for the question “what will we laugh at when we look back in 2034?”. One possibility quickly comes to mind…