I had the pleasure of presenting at an event last week here in Toronto. My topic was Mobile Computing and Leveraging Cloud Services. I thought I'd share some of my thoughts as it pertains to the acceleration of certain trends and the reasons behind the changes at hand.
In my presentation, I talked about a variety of important/hot/emerging technology trends. Those trends were:
- Mobile devices,
- Collaboration/Web 2.0/social media,
- Business intelligence,
- Virtualized servers, storage, and/or networks,
- Security related to wireless and mobile devices, and
- Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)
As I introduced these items to the audience, despite mobile being the top one, I left that to the last. The reason is that I feel that mobile devices are really bringing those other things together and heightening their relevance. It is this new generation of mobile device, like the iPhone, like the Android platform, the iPad and other tablets that will soon follow, that is truly moving us to a new paradigm of leveraging computing technology.
Blackberry changed the paradigm and shifted the phone to the "desktop-model" of usage, namely, getting our email. This worked well for 6-7 years. Then the computing paradigm shifted again, bringing new web-based and socially connected services to the mainstream (i.e., Facebook, Google Docs, Twitter, Dropbox). These services, while exciting and filled with potential value, didn't truly become "unlocked" until the devices caught-up.
Let's take the area of online storage. I'd written almost a year ago about a variety of these cloud-based services, like Dropbox. Over the year, Dropbox has been an invaluable tool to me. What really created the value was my being able to increasingly operate away from my computer. Access to Dropbox via my iPhone and my iPad increased it's value exponentially.
Only in the last year has the mobile computing paradigm truly begun to take hold. Of course, the seeds of this shift were around years ago: laptops, tablet computers, and PDAs. The problem was that all those devices didn't really afford me the ability to work in a truly mobile fashion. Not many of use would pull out a laptop on a street corner to find an address of a restaurant. And once at that restaurant, we weren't likely to pull out a laptop to email a file to someone. For years I so wanted the tablet computer to "just work" so I could take it into a meeting and use it as a functional tool. All these things failed though because they were stuck in the previous computing model.
Today, however, we are seeing an unprecedented changed. Mobile is truly transforming everything. It is driving the explosive growth in social networking, and in a broader way, it is creating a unique platform: the social layer. Mobile computing is driving collaboration in ways that we'd not seen before. The mobile trend has changed how we buy and sell goods (Amazon sells 2 eBooks from every 1 physical book because of the ease of buying a book wirelessly). Look at how software developers wanting to sell applications can now do that via the various mobile marketplaces. The cost of apps have dropped and the ease of reaching millions of users at once has skyrocketed. As more people leverage the mobile computing model, it will drive the increased trend of SaaS - we will want apps that come to us from the cloud or, at a minimum, apps that leverage the cloud.
It's an exciting time and I look forward to seeing what the next 12-18 months of mobile computing will do for us in the workplace and in our personal lives.