Proud Employee Moment

I’ve worked for a number of multi-nationals across the world in my career: Nokia, ATOS (Origin), Compaq, HP, Microsoft. Lived through change, and mergers. This will be my first company split.

What do you think of the reflections about the new Hewlett-Packard Enterprise?

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZIzUsmNOV70&w=640&h=360]

Tomorrow’s Augmented Reality Motorbike Helmet, Today… …Nearly

Imagine being able to see traffic in a 180 degree arc. Behind you.

Imagine being able to check your speed, hear and see navigation directions, call someone, and even choose your music. All without taking your eyes off the road…

…and crucially, without clamping on a Bluetooth Headset, GoPro, or other dangerous (and let’s face it, ugly) accessory to your lid.

That, is the vision of the Skully AR-1. The worlds first fully integrated Augmented Reality* helmet.

Or at least the first one you’ll be able to buy. Apparently.

And I’ll be honest. I want one!!

Despite misgivings about price, weight, having to recharge a battery, suitability for international touring, adventure riding, theft and the fact that Skully have never made a helmet before whereas Shoei, Shark, Arai, AGV, Bell, Nolan, even HJC have been making them for years. Oh, and will it fit me?

What added to those misgivings is the silence. After a year of hype, international roadshows, high profile crowdfunding campaigns, celebrity and “man on the street” endorsements, the last press release was over 6 months ago, in January. Did this vision of tomorrow, today, simply fade into obscurity?

It appears not. In fact, it appears they’ve been working on manufacturing, and the release is now imminent.

And for US$1499 you too can pre-order one. The question is, will you?

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ViUPv5EwHFY&w=800&h=480]

 

*Augmented Reality is technology that augments your sensing of the world, usually your vision, with contextually relevant information. Think of the fighter pilot that can see altitude, heading, orientation, speed and other relevant information through a Heads Up Display, without having to look down at their instruments.

My Technology Predictions for 2013

Project 2012: Day 363

“If not now, When?”

“If not you, Who?”

This is a quote from Meg Whitman (arguably not original) in all of her talks to staff as she turns HP around and builds a company for the next 70 years.

I like it because it’s inspirational. A strident call to action.

Let’s talk about the trends you should capitalise on for next year:

1. SW as a Service

IaaS is quickly becoming a commodity, not to mention highly contested market. Yet ISV’s are still struggling to adapt to the cloud. Commercially they’re re-engineering internal compensation and revenue recognition models. Technically they have to re-architect applications to SOA, multi-tenancy, and provide a way to provision, metre, & bill their enterprise systems.

Largely this work has been conducted over the last 3 years. In 2013 more SaaS providers will emerge for a number of services including: Payroll, HR, Records Management, SW Development (ALM), Project & Portfolio Management, Logistics, Staff & Scheduling Management…

2. Data Sovereignty Becomes a Non-issue

Partly because more people shift to SaaS, partly because cloud vendors are onshore, partly because organisations have a more mature approach to the cloud, and partly because the US Government will strike a deal with Australia. I foresee less people being hung up about where their data resides.

This will finally catalyse mass moves to cloud delivery models.

3. Apple Continues to Out-Innovate the Competition

In early January we’ll have the Consumer Electronics Show, with far fewer true tablets, and far more hybrid machines (laptop/tablets, phone/tablets) A week or two later Apple will have a conference that launches yet more products that out-innovate their closest competition.

Already no-one can deliver devices with the display, performance, battery life, or pure aesthetic of Apple. By January there’ll be yet more products that outshine the current stable.

Where will they go next?

  • Flexible displays
  • Wearable computing
  • The Television

Who knows…

…what I do know is: Apple will launch a product; this will be derided by the digirati press; the product will outsell the market and the previous version.

Other technology vendors, HP, Samsung, Sony are all placing their bets on Microsoft for Ultrabooks & Tablet Hybrids, and Google for Tablets. This strikes me as a particularly fragmented strategy that makes it hard for a customer to determine what to buy. This will drive a price war.

I think we will see the rise of the “slate PC” in businesses with Enterprise Agreements. Here the HP Elitepad 900 & the Microsoft Surface Pro are the contenders for the crown. Both of these are only launched in January. It will be interesting to see what both Apple and Google do to head off this threat.

4. BYOD, OS to the Internet & the Personal Cloud

The continuing appeal of new, connected devices will drive more people connecting their own devices to work networks. Whether IT approves this or not. IT needs to find a way to accommodate and enable the business.

The other impact of lower power, & functional devices will be to drive applications, or entire desktop OS’s to the cloud. It is feasible for SMBs already to run their entire business via a browser.

Up and coming will be the Google Chrome OS, but I don’t see this as a major competitor for another year or so. Currently the functionality of native apps over online apps, at least on the desktop, is still too familiar to people, and entrenched in business licence agreements to change soon. But as more people bring their own devices, and choose a mobile platform from Apple or Google, the applications ratio will shift away from Microsoft Office.

5. The Competition will be for your Pocket

Mobile devices provide a shop front to vendors in your pocket. The iPod, iPhone, iPad, all provide a shop front not only for music, books, and content; but also for applications. The Kindle series provides a shop front for Amazon, essentially for content & physical products. The Nook does the same for Barnes and Noble.

Besides the other major smartphone vendors, Google and Microsoft, even more handheld devices like the Sony & Nintendo personal consoles will be introduced or changed to provide this market.

Windows Phone 8 will fizzle along, and potentially gain some traction. Its battle is against a very entrenched and highly loyal customer base. These, for iOS at least, have a large investment in applications that either don’t exist on the new platform, or require more investment that people are unwilling to make.

Blackberry will either die an ignoble, protracted death, or be bought out by someone. Potentially a niche player looking to expand out of the developing world.

Windows RT won’t gain much traction against the likes of Android, iOS, and even Microsoft’s own Windows 8.

Android will gain even greater market share, especially in developing markets. They will provide good competition to Apple, but ultimately won’t be as profitable due to the lack of the eco-system and their indirect revenue model. They aren’t a shop front (directly) for Google, but rather an advertising platform.

Apple will find even more ways to sell to their customers everywhere and all the time. It’s interesting that you can now buy an Apple product, or accessory, directly from an Apple device. Even in an Apple Store you can scan & purchase any product without the need to speak to a shop assistant. The friction to purchase is non-existent.

6. Networks will be Upgraded

The vast amount of unstructured data (video, photo, and audio) will continue to increase as more people become comfortable with these technologies. So networks of all sorts will continue to be upgraded.

With Cellular we’ll see widespread adoption of LTE & 4G networks. To homes roll outs like the NBN in Australia, & the UFB in New Zealand, will continue. Even without these efforts businesses will update their Wide and Local Area Networks.

All of these are passé, almost obvious, here’s some out there predictions

7. The Social Network gets Corporatised

Already we’re seeing bets being made on Facebook. It strikes me that there is a proven collaboration, Identity & Access Management, and communications system that reaches most people with access to the Internet.

Why wouldn’t Facebook work on a walled garden version for corporate clients? Especially at Public Cloud prices (or free with advertising) this would gazump other collaboration and messaging providers. It’s an offering waiting to happen.

Will a vendor like Microsoft, HP, or IBM with deep business relationships, benefit from partnering here?

8. Augmented Reality becomes Mainstream

From in-car navigation & telemetry systesm (Heads Up Display) to smartphone recognition systems to wearable computing (glasses, touch devices, in-ear). At the end of 2013 most people will be using some form of Augmented Reality in their daily lives, and not realise it (much like cloud today).

We don’t call a road sign Augmented Reality, but it is. Computer mediated AR will be as seamless to our lives

9. Education gets flipped

Rather than being taught in school, and studying at home, more people & increasingly children will use Pod & Vidcasts to be taught at home, then study under supervision at school.

This will affect Universities as their 600 year old approach to education, not to mention the cost of  that education, is threatened by ultra-low cost models.

10. Less Jobs, More Businesses

More companies will struggle to survive through the diseconomy of their size. At the same time, more individuals will make money online selling their individual skills. Over the next year more jobs will be shed from downsizing companies. More services will be outsourced to niche, low cost, online players.

From a career choice perspective you’ll want to be in a role that cannot be dis-intermediated through automation (computers.) An example is the check-in clerk for Qantas – all gone and replaced with kiosks (& mobile apps.) Nurses are still in demand though.

Happy New Year

Ok that’s it for the CTO Category for Project 2012. Next year I won’t be taking on such an onerous challenge (to blog daily) – but if you’re interested I’ll keep blogging about technology on a regular (perhaps fortnightly or weekly) basis.

A Year in Review: Australian Tech Trends of 2012

Project 2012: Day 356

Let’s talk quickly about some of the global and local tech events this year that are shifting the market, especially for business in Australia:

Tablets Take Off

Globally the launch of the 4th gen iPad, the iPad Mini, the Samsung Galaxy (everything) has accelerated tablet, and mobile adoption. In Australia this has taken off.

Despite massive advances in Android tablets, the launch of Windows RT &/or 8, the launch of new hybrid laptop/tablet platforms like the Microsoft Surface, hybrid laptop/phone platforms like the Samsung Galaxy Note, there is no slowing the Apple iPad dominance in this field.

Technical leadership, sales volumes, and enterprise adoption is driving this phenomenon.

Smartphones Become Mainstream

Australia has some 62% smartphone penetration. This has affected everything from how people connect, to shopping trends, to banking. Although Smartphones have been mainstream for the professional set for some time, the advent of cheaper android devices, and shift in disposable spending priorities have made this the platform du jour from retirees to teenagers.

Whilst Apple doesn’t have a market share dominance in units, they still dominate usage and profitability here too.

A sub-note here is that Android has become an equal target for application development. Where businesses would initially develop for iPhone, then Android, then Rim or Windows Phone, Android and iOS are more often than not launched at the same time.

Apple launched iOS 6, and iPhone 5. Despite a repeat of the tech press dismissal of the platform, every launch sees Apple sell more devices, more quickly.

Windows Phone has been updated from 7 to 8 – and WP8 is not backwards compatible on WP7 devices. This is serving to further fragment the platform, dissatisfy users, and increase friction for app developers.

RIMM (Blackberry) has launched version 10 of their OS. From a one time position of dominance, Blackberry holds very little of the market. There are still a number of enterprises in Australia that have communities of (mainly exec) Blackberry users. All of the organisations I’ve dealt with are retiring these platforms.

The Apple vs Samsung lawsuits all over the world produced remarkably emotive noise in the media, but hasn’t done anything for either company. Samsung officially sell more devices than Apple. As mentioned above though, usage and profitability remains firmly in the Apple camp.

Inside the enterprise the iPhone dominates too, and many enterprises are looking to Mobile Device Management technologies like Afaria, Good Technologies and others, to secure and manage these platforms.

BYOD is Real

Very few enterprises have launched wide scale Bring Your Own Device strategies in Australia.

Nevertheless, employees are buying their own tablets, smartphones, and ultrabooks, then using these for work. A recent IDC study shows that over 52% of knowledge workers across Asia Pacific & Japan use over 3 devices for work.

Great Things in Small Packages

All OEM’s have responded to Apple’s MacBook Air with a raft of ultrabook laptops. Despite some great advances, Apple still holds technical superiority here in all benchmarks including battery life, screen resolution, weight, performance, and responsiveness. This holds true for Mac OSX and running Windows natively via Bootcamp.

Contrary to common belief, their prices are similar for closely specified machines.

Because of this, enterprises are increasingly adopting the Mac HW platform. The only vendor not seeing laptop and desktop attrition because of tablets, is Apple. In the US they took out #1 spot for desktop sales.

In desktops we’re also seeing a consolidation to “all in one” devices from all of the major vendors. There are two strategies at play:

  • Microsoft & PC’s are adopting touch screens across laptop, tablet, and “all in one” PC devices.
  • Apple is maintaining a separation from a computer (iMac, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air) without touch, and a mobile device (iPhone, iPad, iPod) with a touch interface.

The Microsoft strategy is still very new, without enough time to identify whether this will be a winner for consumer or enterprise.

Personally, I don’t believe touch is beneficial on a large screen. It’s just too cumbersome on that real estate, and fingerprints aren’t as easy to clean off.

As for the hybrid laptop/tablet? It seems the current technologies (Intel Atom) aren’t powerful enough for true laptop performance, so they don’t compete favourably with the ultrabooks. And these devices (MS Surface, HP Envy X2)  don’t have mobile characteristics (cellular wireless, GPS etc.) of tablets, so don’t compete favourably there either.

However, they do provide most of the functionality of both genres of device, and are priced competitively. Will this be enough to sway consumers & enterprise, or will people purchase more dedicated devices?

Early 2013 will tell.

Multiple Devices Drive Less Dependence on Vendor Lock-In

By that I mean Microsoft lock in. As more individuals have Android, iOS, Mac OSX devices, they’re turning to applications that work across these platforms. Whether a native application, or delivered through the browser.

Again, this is still very much the domain of the consumer, but everyone who works for an enterprise is a consumer. It’s still early days, but cloud productivity tools like Microsoft Live Office, and Google Docs, are starting to be considered by more than just the SMB market.

Enterprises, however, are grappling with the delivery of applications across multiple platforms – remote delivery through virtual desktop interfaces, virtualised applications, multiple native applications, or simply browser based applications are all vying for attention here.

Despite enterprises wanting to break free from restrictive licensing models and adopt subscription models, for now the Microsoft is still the most mature vendor in the market. The MS strategy of “on the device AND in the cloud” seems to be adopted by default in the entperprise.

Social Media has Become Mainstream

Microsoft bought Yammer, Google+ is gaining traction, CommBank recently launched Banking on Facebook.

Every (mobile) OS is integrating Social Media into their core user interface.

Every organisation I talk to discusses collaboration within the enterprise, collaboration across their value chain, & social media for consumer engagement. The average knowledge worker has shifted from systems of record, to systems of engagement in their personal sphere. This requires considerable re-thinking of business processes and technology architectures.

Globally successful businesses are making the shift: Apple, Amazon, Virgin all benefit from computer mediated engagement throughout their business. Local enterprises have yet to consider this seriously.

Everyone Uses the Cloud

Many don’t realise it. From email, to file sharing, to music matching, more and more people are consuming services hosted on public cloud platforms.

This is happening within the enterprise too. The original clarion call of data sovereignty that vetoed any consideration about cloud is now being dealt with more diligence from both sides of the fence.

Infrastructure services are now hosted in Australia by most of the major public (Amazon, soon Rackspace, Google) and private (Telstra, Optus, HP, Fujitsu, IBM) vendors. The only vendor not to take this path currently is Microsoft with either Azure (public) or O365 (public & private) assets.

Enterprises are also working through IT strategies that look to various cloud platforms to host different workloads. CBA recently announced their adoption of AWS services for certain workloads, and called Australian business to do the same.

The competition for IaaS has heated up with AWS launch into Australia. As in other parts of the world, their pricing, speed to market, and flexibility are simply too compelling to be ignored. Whilst there is a lot of rhetoric from vendors and in the media about “true” comparisons, the adoption of public cloud services by major Australian enterprises; News, Fairfax, CBA, ABC, to name a few, belies this consideration.

With IaaS becoming a highly contested, and commoditised market, enterprises are looking to SaaS and even BPaaS (Business Process as a Service) but this market is still very immature. Besides hosted messaging, collaboration, and a few CRM services, there is still little choice for enterprises but to host on-premise applications with IaaS providers.

The Network Still Hasn’t Arrived

Broadband is fairly ubiquitous in metro areas, but not so once out of town. Similarly, the NBN hasn’t arrived yet, and probably won’t in the metro for some time to come. This has been a factor in the relatively reticent adoption of cloud computing.

This is the same for wireless 4G services. Devices are beginning to flood the country, spectrum incompatibilities notwithstanding. Yet providers are slow in upgrading their networks to benefit from these technologies.

Mobile Photography and Videography is Taking Off

This is still the domain of the consumer for now. From a photography perspective we’re seeing the massive attrition of compact camera sales as smartphones become the camera du jour for most people. At the same time, many, many more photos are being taken and stored.

Video has seen advances in the hand-free cameras, such as the GoPro, Contour, and new competition from Sony. From surfing to sky diving, more and more people are using hands free cameras to capture their experiences.

In the enterprise desktop video conferencing is beginning to become mainstream as laptops, tablets, and smartphones have cameras, applications, and bandwidth to support this. In this vein Microsoft bought Skype last year, and has integrated this with their Live Messenger product in Windows 8.

It’s Still About the Magic of Software

As with the advent of the PC in the 80’s that changed the nature of home and business computing, because one device could do so much; so mobile devices now enable people to carry less, and do more. All through the magic of software.

Companies that have adopted mobile, social, and cloud models effectively have done so because of their focus on the applications, not the underlying infrastructure or technologies.

And for 2013?

Next week – the last for my CTO blog of 2012 – I’ll look into my crystal ball and make some predictions for next year