Microsoft after talking about the much hyped Windows 8 for over a year, which lead to speculation around how the PC World and the world of lighter compact tablet computers will intersect, has finally announced Surface. An apparently well designed Microsoft tablet PC with design intricacies that are widely published. However the most interesting pitch is that the Surface will not only be your bed time read but also your Ultrabook.
Revolutionizing conventional enterprise systems.
In a world with an insatiable appetite for communication the vision statements have dramatically changed. Everyone is leaving their desktops behind and moving into the cloud and soon reaching for the stars. In an increasingly mobile world instant gratification is top order.
Us humans have walked the planet earth for over 200,000 years. In this time we have seen a stone age, bronze age, the industrial revolution and now we are entering a new age which is just as pivotal, what could be called the age of the cloud.
I practically live in my computer, but sort of ties you down at home or you got to lug around the laptop all over town. There are a host of tablet beings launched making the task of choosing one painful. So let’s flip it around, why not look at what I want my tablet to do and not do.
Monday, September 10, 2012
Saturday, June 23, 2012
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
While I have heaped praises, here comes the fine print. Windows 8 has inherently built two views the Metro mode and the Desktop mode. The Metro mode which is the tablet interface with the tiled views is a distinctly different environment from the more classic Windows Desktop. So applications that were developed for your Windows PC will function in your desktop mode as against your Metro or tablet mode, and they don't seamlessly transition when you switch modes. So you do get the power of the desktop in your tablet but only in your good old Desktop world. For applications to run effectively in a tablet environment you will have to depend on the Microsoft app store, which I would hazard a guess is still in its fledgeling state. Further the keyboard which looked like an ultra cool add-on, is a necessity in the Windows 8 world.
So yes you can own one single device, but you don't eliminate the Desktop PC. You do make a big save by not having to buy a separate Ultrabook, but in Surface you actually have a cool-compact Ultrabook with tablet functionality. While you do get to use your existing desktop apps, you don't get to use them with the tablet interface, so back to shopping in the app store. Finally not sure everyone would enjoy working on a 10.4 inch Windows Ultrabook as against the 13 inch or larger variety. For e.g a creative designer will any day like to use the larger screen in their laptops rather than hunching over a tablet.
While Surface is far from perfect, to their credit Microsoft has taken us one step closer to bidding goodbye to the PCs. By virtue of having come out with a powerful product, they will keep Apple and other tablet manufacturers on their toes. Surface will certainly force manufacturers back to the drawing boards to solve the rather challenging problem of merging the longstanding PCs and revolutionary Tablets. While we all eagerly await the next wave of Tablets, it will still be a while before we say "RIP PC".
Saturday, January 14, 2012
Between 2000 and 2010, India won 9 series out of 22 while touring abroad. This included wins against England, Pakistan, West Indies, Sri Lanka and New Zealand, four of them more than a handful in home conditions. But what was truly incredible for a country that won 3 matches in 20 years, won 23 matches while touring in 10 years. During this period India showed incredible resolve, belief and came back from virtually impossible positions to win. Unlike the 90s, when India usually went flat and let oppositions walk all over them, Sourav’s fire was the ideal fillip for flagging spirits. He was also not one to shy away from mind games and intimidation. He was in fact one step ahead of them when he made Steve Waugh wait for the toss before the match or did the now famous T-shirt act. The aggression brought adrenaline and intent, to what was a rather timid team.
Sunday, December 4, 2011
Article first published as The Virtual Transformation on Technorati
In August 1995, Microsoft launched Windows 95 in an attempt to capture their founder's audacious dream of having a computer running Windows on every desktop in the world. But in a world with an insatiable appetite for communication the vision statements have dramatically changed. Everyone is leaving their desktops behind and moving into the cloud and soon reaching for the stars. In an increasingly mobile world instant gratification is top order.
Bye bye PCs
Three global behemoths, Apple, Google and Microsoft are locked in a battle for supremacy, and there are the outliers, Amazon and RIM. One a bold maverick and the latter was once a visionary in the enterprise world, now fast disappearing into the background . While Microsoft still maintains a stranglehold on the PC marketshare Google and Apple have gone mobile and flipped the game on Microsoft. Over the last few years PC sales has diminished, as we speak there are more smart mobile devices (smart phones and tablets) sold than PCs. IBM sold their, once priced PC business to the Chinese firm Lenovo. HP is struggling to hive off it's PC business, in an attemptt to move into high value solutions and services. This is a testament to the fact that the era of the PC will soon be behind us. This is made possible through increasingly shrinking chipsets and cloud based services. While device footprint are increasingly portable, we are witnessing convergence, now no one carries an mp3 player, phone, and a camera, they just carry their smart phone instead.
Devices to services
In a fast evolving world and market place nobody has the time to marvel at product spec sheets, everybody is interested in the end service. In other words, what's in it for me? Hardware manufacturers no longer just publish technical specifications, instead feature apps and their services. So what sells now is Nokia's navigation services, Amazon Kindles's books online, iTunes music or YouTube's video channels and the device is merely a means to an end. This is increasingly driving the cost of the hardware down, as seen with the launch of the Kindle Fire. The device that runs the largest app store indirectly delivers the widest range of services. Apple sits pretty on top with 414,852 apps since its launch in 2007, while Google is fast catching up with 237,199 apps in the last 3 years.
Your avatar in a virtual world
Moving away from the physical world is a direct result of this transformative communication age. You no longer need to carry your wallet, just flash your phone to pay your check, Singapore is the third Asian country to adopt NFC for payments in a large scale after Japan and Korea. For many, shops are just viewing galleries, they try out new clothes and swipe the barcode to purchase it cheaper online. Track the delivery status, pay your bills, drop off a check, hail a cab, check-in to a flight everything from your phone. You can literally rule the world from the palm of your hands. Owe your friend money just bump your phones to transfer money. The line between the physical world and the virtual is fast blurring. No more cash or credit cards just a smart guy with a smart card in a smart phone.
Go east, get young and get rich
The new markets are rapidly moving east as the average age of the rest of the world is fast rising and the west is struggling to revive growth. China's median age is 35 and India's around 29, this means more than 25% of the world's population are under the age of 40. The youth in these regions are not going to stand in long queues to do business, they are going to do it online and will want it at a fraction of the cost. These are low cost economies where it's all about volume. India and China alone constitute over 1.6 billion mobile subscribers. Going mobile here reduces cost of services and increases reach to tap into a fast emerging middle class and remote corners where modern services remains remote. India just launched a 35$ tablet, this will expectedly, further kill PC sales in the region and will soon make India one of the largest internet markets. So while western economies are having to deal with an aging population the new markets are young and eager to absorb new technologies.
Competing with Free
Ever since Gillete offered shaving sticks for free while selling razors, we have inadvertently entered the age of free. We are seeing innovative pricing strategies and bundled services offering, banks provide free money transfer and make money off float, TV channels offer free online viewing as against paying cable charges. This is further made possible by the cost of setting up business on the internet coming down, dramatically reducing entry barriers. News channels have to compete with bloggers and the social media where people are experiencing instant news that is fast and free. So companies now have to build innovative strategies to monetize free.
Embrace the change
It is important to embrace this change and adapt to the new strategies. Business relying on online channels for new innovative services, is not another hype like the dotcom bubble, this is a paradigm shift. The shift is to value focused services, innovative pricing strategy with a constant downward pressure on costs, products and services that constantly evolve, supported by a strong technology vision and strategy. In short in the future there will be very few services that rely purely on a physical delivery channels. The industries most affected by this change are Entertainment, Media, Financial Services and Retail.
Invest in the right technologies
When the entire world is gravitating towards mobiles and the cloud, it makes no sense to persist with desktop and other physical services. Companies that are aggressively investing on their internet platforms have to make sure it's tablet ready and backed by mobile services capabilities. This is a significant change to technology roadmaps. Volumes and frequency of hits will increase, driving up traffic, therefore will require the supporting infrastructure, both in terms of availability and capacity. Mobile services operate on different technologies, this will mandate robust services based (SOA) platforms capable of supporting multiple delivery channels or end points that include PCs, tablets and smart phones.
Rapid innovation with shorter product life cycles
A rapidly evolving product and services portfolio is much needed where entry cost with business going online have come down. Innovation in organizations cannot be confined to the R&D teams. Finally being able to convert new bright ideas into reality and doing it quick is the need of the hour. This is not possible unless business is supported with open innovation platforms, agile IT and business processes Product release cycles over the years have consistently reduced from years to months to weeks. Information sharing is simplified outside the enterprise and users are able to easily share rich content and communicate with ease. There is a significant step down when employees step into enterprises that are struggling to catch up. New apps are launched every day in the app stores and it is frustrating to work with a lumbering IT function that takes weeks to even provide a solution. IT and business need to transform themselves into light weight nimble teams that can provide quick turn around times and freely innovate.
Now or never
As the online consumer base grows, the physical paper based services will eventually disappear, further increasing the need for automation, dramatically shrinking turn around times and SLAs ,eventually transforming current business operating parameters. Organizations that struggle to adapt are more likely to fail in this new unforgiving world of business.
While there is a lot of debate on the future technology landscape, some of which is denial, some as a result of the new technologies being transitionary.In my mind the direction is clear, there have been some fundamental changes in the way business is done, the way technology impacts business and there is significant advantage in investing ahead of the curve.
Friday, October 21, 2011
Just as the world seems like this increasingly wired network of communities that constantly feels the need to stay in touch, are we in the process actually loosing touch? I don't find it unimaginable that soon mobile phones will be confined to the dusty corners of the nostalgia shops and people will never speak face to face. Everyone will only speak to their smart phones or whoever is in it. "Hey let's Hang Out at the Coffee Shop" would not mean meeting at a coffee shop but a Google plus group video conference during coffee breaks.
There was a time when people just received a morning paper, now I'm not sure what to read, Times of India, Straight Times, WSJ or a mix of everything on Flipboard or Evri. While I love the Flipboard magazine interface, I also love Evri's organization by topic of interest. Even better just read what every body is reading by tuning into your Twitter channel. We are so spoilt for choice on this information crazy highway you're just not sure where to exit. Does it really matter if I knew Colnel Gadaffi's whereabouts by the minute or his birthday even? Speaking of which, I rarely call friends on their birthdays, and remembering them is not so special anymore, thanks to Facebook reminders. I have so many friends on my Facebook I don't know most of them.
All of this just says one thing the virtual world has helped us go viral, not without infecting us in the process. Human beings are highly evolved species, our brain senses everything from body temperature, to texture and the subtlest of body languages. It will take a digital dodo to assume that a smiley can evoke the same human response as a smile. Communication advances has undoubtedly brought the world together, yet we run this risk of becoming transactional. It's so much easier to defraud, be ruthless in business or ignore a friend, as the person is just a digital rendering. You don't really know the person, because you never felt that handshake or warm embrace.
A story for bed time is a personalized children's book reading software. You can record yourself reading the book and your children can launch their favorite bed time stories, to hear and see you read them. An up in the air salesman's dream, a one time setup for a life time of guilt free cocktail parties and business travel. But maybe your children will never think of Noddy as that lovable little boy, but a funny kid in a car, as they never felt that good night kiss and your warm embrace. I'm sure as we speak someone is solving that with an iPad app, but you must realize, not everything is solved with a digital embrace.
Saturday, August 13, 2011
Article first published as Operationalizing Enterprise Ecosystems on Technorati (PCX5DZB6CX25).
In the times of F.W. Taylor, focus of enterprise process was on repeatability and predictability and less on adaptability and agility. A hundred years later automation is pushing the monotonous functions to computer systems, using tools like self service solutions and straight through processing. As enterprises mature the role of the desk clerk who will come into work and do the same job day in and day out will be marginalized. Every employee will be empowered with the power to think, plan and execute in the new innovative enterprise.
The biggest challenge in being the innovative enterprise is in transitioning from conventional organization and systems to one that enables mass scale innovation, building the ability to tap into many little idea bubbles and aggregating them into new product or services that impact change in the way business gets done. My belief is this can be a achieved by establishing the right frameworks and tools or an Enterprise Ecosystems.
While this is the future, it is important to understand where organizations stand today and the direction in which they are evolving and why we are in a much better place to make that transition today than ever before.Enterprise evolution
Enterprise strategy is conventionally driven top down, where the board decides the strategic direction, the annual and quarterly targets. The rest of the employees are expected to pretty much expand on the vision and execute. While this model has served the interests of rich boards and some overpaid CEOs does it really do justice to the true growth potential of an enterprise?Ownership Structure
There was a time when organizations were started and owned by a few wealthy investors pooling their resources to start a company. As scale increased companies were restricted by the availability of capital. That changed with the advent of organized institutional finance and public capital markets. Ownership could rest in the hands of hundreds of thousands of investors driving up the scale of enterprise to heights never imagined before.Management Control
Conventional enterprises depended on a centralized command and control model where a small executive team that decided the fate of thousands of employees. Systems were designed to support a centralized chain of command and a pyramid style organization, with management and control that rested in the hands of few, restricting growth and innovation. As organizations spread across multiple geographies and became today’s mammoth, global enterprise, product lines and services had to be adapted to the culture, tastes and preferences of the local markets. Therefore control shifted to regional and countrywide command centers and thereby broadened the span of control and adaptability of the organization.Innovation
If as in Fig 1.1, 80% of your organization was execution focused, 20% was ensuring goals set by the top 0.1-0.5% were met; the organization is wasting at least 80-90% of its intellectual potential. As the opportunities to innovate and generate value drops in the lower levels of the pyramid. This leads to typical idea bubble evaporation, where employees are forced to suppress ideas, either because they are so low down in the hierarchy to be heard or their job description doesn’t enable them to step out of bounds. Over time the lost bubbles cost organizations in terms of lost opportunities and employees who leave with their ideas to start off on their own or even worse hand it over to competition. The challenge can be addressed by creating the right Enterprise Ecosystems, a system that captures, develops and convert ideas into real world solutions.A one hit wonder or sustained innovation
In the book The Element the author mentions an interesting anecdote where George Harrison one day got together with Bob Dylan and group of like minded musicians in a jamming session. What was a casual get together of music's greats resulted in Handle with Care which turned out to be Harrison’s greatest song in the post Beatles era. Is innovation truly a random event? Do we all have a Dylan or a Harrison in us? The answer in my mind varies based on what you set out to do. Do you want to be a one hit wonder or whether you want to create a system that consistently delivers? In an ideal world George Harrison and Bob Dylan should have got together and started one of the greatest rock bands after their album Traveling Wilburys but that never happened. That’s because what got them together did not keep them together. Traveling Wilburys was like an affair or a fling and had all the flair and charms of one. Innovation in the enterprise is not a fling; it’s about creating a sustainable and a constantly innovating enterprise.
An ecosystem is alive, dynamic, constantly evolving, nourishes growth and is supported by a strong community. Enterprise ecosystems create the internal mechanism for their employees to create new ideas and for like minded people to collaborate and build on it to the point where it can become a solution that justifies further investments. The idea can be a product, service, or even a new process. The ecosystem acts as a system that enables the identification, evolution and formalization of an idea into an offering. Further it is a culmination of tools that simplify collaboration, processes and systems that incubate ideas across the enterprise.Enterprise Ecosystems and the innovation lifecycle
Create new offering