Mobile computing, including BYOD, is, according to Gartner, the “single most radical shift” in business since the PC revolution of the 1980s. Over the next decade it will have a huge impact on how people work and live, how companies operate, and on the IT infrastructure. This month ServicesAngle will focus on the issues and opportunities surrounding this new way to communicate and consume computing services.
Mobile computing is not just PCs on the move. Mobile devices –smartphones, tablets, and the iPod Touch, the last PDA standing – are a radically different kind of device, designed from the ground up as end points of data networks – both internal corporate networks and the Internet – rather than primarily as stand-alone devices. They are optimized for mobility, which means that they have to be light, easy to handle, and maximize battery life. Where my laptop has a three hour battery life, my tablet and smartphone regularly run 12 hours or more between charging and serve as my windows into the Cloud.
But achieving those qualities has tradeoffs. Specifically, they have less processing and storage. With the exception of the new Windows 8 Pro tablets, their operating systems are simplistic and lack such basics as multitasking. Instead of being optimized for heavy duty computing, they emphasize stunning display and depend on networked back-end servers for the heavy lifting. And, again with the single exception of the new Win 8 Pro tablets, they lack sophisticated data security features, making them potential weak points in the corporate security architecture.
Increasingly mobile computing is driving several other important trends that promise to revolutionize the office. We plan to explore these trends, including:
- SaaS and other cloud services;
- The creation of internal corporate clouds and reorganization of IT as a group of services rather than a collection of hardware and software;
- VDI that delivers the standard corporate image on mobile devices as well as desktops;
- Windows 8 tablets and convertible laptops;
- The implications of BYOD for corporate security and end-user support;
- Virtual presence and the deemphasis of the traditional physical office.
As part of this, Senior Writer John Caseretto and I will have a friendly debate over BYOD versus Win 8 Pro tablets, with John defending Win 8 while I advocate BYOD and VDI. But probably the most interesting impact of mobile computing is not technical at all but rather organizational and personal, as companies find their workforces and their customers increasingly telecommuting from wherever they happen to be not just in the office but in the world, using whatever device is handy or most practical at the moment. That impact will ultimately be much more profound than any purely technical change.