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CIOs need to prepare for a future business computing model without the PC

Matt Ballantine | Feb. 3, 2017
Matt Ballantine proposes nine reasons CIOs need to start preparing for business without the PC

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In my work in the last few years I've been skirting between the worlds of digital and traditional IT. One of the things that I'm concluding is that, for the most part, IT isn't anywhere near the trajectory of travel required for innovating the enterprise technology experience.

Sure, you might have your 2020 Vision (high fives all around for that pun). Yes, you might be embracing cloud computing, Big Data or machine learning. But in most organisations in which I've worked in the past two years, the Ptolemaic model of the IT universe orbits steadily around the PC.

We need to raise our sights. Whilst the PC will be around for some time to come, designing future operating models around the idea that a keyboard and mouse-driven computing device is the only "proper" form of computing will provide a foundation built on legacy.

Here is my thinking, in nine observations and causal factors:

1. The browser

Since the 1990s, the Browser has become the operating system. Whilst client-installed business applications are still around (putting aside the rise of mobile apps for the moment), most current enterprise computing tasks can be done in the browser, and, I'd wager, most bespoke software built in-house over the past decade and a half has been delivered to the browser.

Browser applications are great because they are relatively easy to maintain. That's why the Internet has been so successful.

2. The Mac

The PC was never just about Windows. For the last 30 years there's been the parallel computing universe of the Mac. In the dark inbetween-Jobs-days, Microsoft needed Apple as a counterweight (against accusations of monopoly) that in 1997 they invested $150m into the brink of bankruptcy Cupertino outfit.

The rest is, as they say, history. But in the Post-return-of-Jobs Apple the Mac went from "thing used by designers" to desirable consumer object. And that went into organisations at the most senior levels requiring many organisations to think about cross-platform support for some of their business systems. That, in turn, reinforced the value of the browser (although anyone developing for Apple and Windows browsers in the late 90s and 00s will have the scars to show how mutually incompatible things still were).

3. Mobile

Which in turn brings us to today's primary platform, the smart phone. A world dominated by Apple and Google. And a platform that outside of work is now the one that we turn to the most. And the one that is more personal than any personal computer ever has been before.

Yet in businesses mobile is still an afterthought when it comes to enterprise computing. A limited subset of functionality of considered at all.


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