Going Mobile….With My Laptop?

By Christian Buckley posted 12-03-2013 21:18


I remember it quite clearly -- it was early 1996, and a new role with an IT shared services team that would have me moving between customer teams and also between floors of the massive Pacific Bell building located in San Ramon, California. Having a desk was largely irrelevant to the role, and so I made the transition from the land-locked desktop computer to using a laptop as my primary machine. Back then, most units were still grossly underpowered compared to their desktop compatriots, but the flexibility to move between customer locations and meeting rooms, and to be able to work remotely on occasion (or from one of the many "hoteling" locations throughout the building) was a massive change. And of course, adding a cell phone to my utility belt (which also included a pager, my ID card, and as a joke -- occasionally a fake Skywalker-esque grappling hook) made be almost completely portable. Only the need for a printer on occasion kept me tethered to a physical location.


Back then, being "mobile" meant "easily or conveniently transported." And then mobile's meaning transitioned to "all things telephony." But are we on a path back to the earlier definition? With the increasing power of these devices, bringing them closer in computing power certainly to our tablet devices, if not some of our aging laptops and desktops, mobile is moving back from being a thing to a description of the way we work. And, of course, with the increasing use of cloud-based services that allow our devices to access data and processing power like nothing we imagined back in the mid-nineties, the way we look at our "workspace" is rapidly evolving.


Even the word "workspace" denotes a physical location, when the reality is more often "space-less work" that happens wherever you happen to go. But I digress.


The decline of the personal computer has been widely reported, and yet Microsoft, Google, and Apple are focused on the bigger picture -- the number of devices. At  Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference in Houston this past July, COO Kevin Turner pushed past the PC in decline story and instead talked about the billions of laptops and PCs, smartphones, tablets, and embedded devices running a Microsoft OS, with growth projected for every region of the world. Microsoft is banking on an increasingly mobile world.


As you think about all of the companies out there -- whether software or service providers, or even customers -- building out enterprise solutions that are responsive to your device format (your site or application recognizes your device and formats itself accordingly), what kind of device you use becomes irrelevant, because the experience will change to meet your device specifications. Most end users will access the same set of tools, the same enterprise systems, and the same sets of personal, corporate, and public data sets across a variety of devices, whether personal or company-owned. What's more mobile than that?


<side note>A reality of our increasingly mobile world: Wi-Fi connectivity at major conferences usually dismal, with capacity planning clearly an afterthought. The problem now is not how many people who attend a conference will want connectivity, but planning for the multiple devices that each attendee will bring. Because everyone has a mobile phone and either a laptop or a tablet (and more often than not, both).</side  note>  

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