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Evolving Beyond the PC

For at least the past two decades, knowledge workers have been firmly rooted in the PC era. Within enterprises of all sizes, that meant that the predominant operating system on the desktop – and often in the data center — was Windows.

We had unprecedented productivity gains during this time, no doubt, but I would now firmly assert that as Ray Ozzie suggested — and Steve Jobs was more than happy to reinforce — that we are transitioning to an era where PCs play a secondary role, if at all – this is the Post PC era. 

I believe we will now have more access to more information on more devices from more applications than ever before.

It’s not as if PCs are going away, so what do we mean by the “Post-PC Era”? PCs have their place. They’re still useful business tools. But it’s clear: We are rapidly evolving from a predominantly client-server world to one in which the Windows PC is just another device in a broad list of options.

We now have many choices in devices – even the option to perform the same tasks on different devices depending on our preferences at different times. Everything is anchored by persistent services that enable device portability and mobility

Once upon a time, I dreaded having to replace my mobile phone or PC. The transition invariably brought with it lost data, lost time, lost sanity… But I can now upgrade from one device to another fairly quickly without breaking much of a sweat. And I really need that ability if I want to keep up with the latest advances in technology.

Why is that? Because it’s cloud-enabled!

Although they’ve performed well for over two decades, traditional business tools and infrastructure based around the desktop PC and office-productivity software no longer exclusively fit the modern knowledge worker nor the global distributed form of 21st century work.

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Another Mobile World Congress Wraps

Musings and mutterings from the just-completed Mobile World Congress 2012 . . .

  • Darned if this still isn’t the only place in the universe where there are waiting lines leading into the men’s rooms but not the ladies’ rooms . . . Obviously, the planners did not heed my carefully crafted suggestion for improvement made in the wake of the 2011 event.
  • Barcelona did get the weather right this year, though – Each day was darned sunny and fairly warm . . . a decided contrast to the last two Februarys.
  • The show was held two weeks later this year than in previous years, so no one had an excuse for being away on Valentine’s Day.  “Sorry, honey, but I ‘have’ to go to Barcelona this week . . .” didn’t work this time.
  • All that aside, MWC continues to enhance its position as the largest, most important service provider-focused show of the year. 
  • The projected attendance was 65,000, about 12% more than in 2011.  It will be a few days before the official figure is posted, but, judging from the traffic inside and outside the Fira de Barcelona all four days, the estimate seems reasonable.
  • The most prominent theme this year was SP Wi-Fi/small cells . . . which just happened to align perfectly with Cisco’s key messaging and announcement.  Not to mention numerous customer-focused mentions this week and last.   Cisco focused “not only on what we make, but what we make possible.”
  • Other consistent themes included monetization, optimization, reducing capex and opex, and cloud applications. 
  • ARPU continues to stagnate . . . a real problem for operators.
  • Another theme often heard is that service providers are more and more looking for advice from vendors.   There was a time when that was not true.  “They’re looking at the situation and saying, ‘We need some help figuring out what to do with all this stuff,” one analyst remarked.     Another added, “It’s VERY important for a vendor to be considered a trusted advisor.”  Hmmm – Does Cisco’s consulting arm – the Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG) – ring a bell?
  • Mobile World Congress has evolved – as it must – in its approximately 15 years of existence.   Real old-timers remember when it was small and very clubby.    Particularly in the last few years, it has changed and broadened as the concept of mobility has become more ubiquitous.  “Three years ago, it was more of a pure infrastructure show with the Huaweis, Ericssons of the world holding forth,” said one.  “Last year, companies like Samsung and Google got much of the attention.  This year, it’s WiFi and small cells.”
  • “Four years ago here, a Hotspot was an oddity,” one analyst said.  “Now, it’s the norm.” 
  • In a Cisco analyst/media event about small cells, Telstra CTO Dr. Hugh Bradlaw said, “It’s the network, stupid.  That’s what makes the cloud possible.”
  • Machine-to-machine continues to grow in importance.   One analyst firm characterized it this way: “M2M = M3 . . . Make More Money”.
  • Overheard while standing in line at the men’s room: “Operators are chasing the consumer too much and not realizing that a lot of SMBs and mid-market companies are dying for solutions that are right in their [the operators’] sweet spot.”

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Cisco and NBA All-Star Weekend – reshaping the fan experience

I had a great experience this past weekend at the NBA All-Star Weekend in Orlando, FL. The event included the NBA Tech Summit on Friday where a panel of industry leaders in sports, media and technology talked about current trends, what the future will look like and how customers are driving innovation through their use of technology. Not to mention the Slam Dunk Competition on Saturday and the Competitive All-Star Game on Sunday…maybe the most competitive ever! It’s not every day you see a dual between Dwayne Wade and Kobe Bryant that results in a broken nose.

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A Big Day for Small Cells

Yesterday was a whirlwind of activity for Cisco at Mobile World Congress 2012, and a big day for our smallest networking devices.

On the heels of the past week’s 4G/LTE announcements with Magyar Telekom, LG U+ , Vodafone Hungary, Telefonica Spain, and Bell Canada, yesterday we stood with business partners Orange, and Shaw to announce a new era in the evolution of the mobile Internet: the era of the small cell.

Cisco CEO  John Chambers declared “We are now entering the post-macrocell era, where small cells also will play a critical role in delivering the next-generation mobile Internet.”

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Authenticity Creates Trust; Trust Accelerates Collaboration

Collaboration is indeed the business opportunity of the decade, promising to energize your organization while making more effective use of your precious assets.  My Cisco colleague Carl Wiese and I wrote a book called The Collaboration Imperative: Executive Strategies for Unlocking Your Organization’s True Potential to help organizations “operationalize” collaboration and capture these gains. Our goal wasn’t to write a “theory” book, but rather one that drills down into specific actions, with concrete examples of how to put collaboration to work in the real world.

As Carl noted in a previous post, effective collaboration is a function of aligning culture, process and technology.  But how do you do that?   Here is a one example from the book: Collaborative teams work best when they’re made up of people who communicate openly.

Collaboration technologies, especially video, make it easy to reach people across an organization and around the world.  Anyone who has traded their economy-class airline seat in favor of a Telepresence meeting knows the powerful benefits of collapsing space and time with an engaging video meeting.  However, as we cross departmental, cultural and time-zone boundaries, collaboration puts our personal communication skills to the test.

As we increasingly interact virtually, we work more and more with people we don’t know or have a long history with; they may actually work in a different company and teams may come and go in rapid succession.  Establishing rapport –- quickly –- is one of the most important aspects of successful collaboration, and it starts with communicating authentically.

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