Microsoft’s Frank Shaw may have been onto something when he coined the term PC-plus back in 2011. In a company blog post, Shaw wrote, “Most of the time, new objects enhance and complement the things we’ve already got. They don’t replace them.”
Three years later, his sentiment rings true. Many businesses are still reliant on the traditional desktop computing paradigm. Many employees still work in cubicle environments. It’s what we’re used to, and it’s going to take time to displace the platform. Some of the technology that has emerged in the last three years is bridging the PC-mobile gap – from desktop virtualization to the ultrabook, both of which rely on the desktop OS and make it more portable.
PCs aren’t going away anytime soon, but they are no longer the de facto standard for getting work done. As Shaw mentioned, other devices often complement an organization’s existing fleet, providing new opportunities to be connected in places where PCs don’t make sense. Most large enterprises now have a mobile strategy in place and are identifying these opportunities. But as the balance tips further in favor of a mobile work style, many will continue to struggle with the challenge of managing a constantly evolving fleet of devices.
VDC Research Senior Analyst Eric Klein says the tipping point was in 2011, when tablets became the most quickly adopted technology in history, and shipments eclipsed those of PCs for the first time. Since then, both the development and implementation of mobile technology in business have taken great strides.
“The speed is better; the embedded security is much better; the way AirWatch can integrate with the operating systems is getting much better. And you have very secure platforms so CIOs have the peace of mind to begin really opening the keys to their kingdoms and giving employees access to content on their devices,” Klein says.
“The capabilities and power of how these solutions can be architected is not something any of us imagined just a few short years ago.” Advanced capabilities and soaring adoption of mobile devices isn’t the death knell for PCs, but the mere fact that we’re wondering is significant.
At the very least, it means companies would be wise to begin planning for a post-PC future, Klein says. It’ll be here before we know it. And preparing now will help companies achieve more with mobile today.
Achieving more with mobile is no easy task, Klein admits. “Identifying those workflows is really hard,” he says. He suggests that IT and mobility teams “go on a ride-along with employees” who could benefit from a mobile work flow, especially field workers who don’t have access to a desktop or laptop at all times.
That’s what the IT team at Intermountain Healthcare did, and today, its air ambulance service Life Flight uses mobile devices to reduce paper weight, save fuel and ultimately rescue more patients in need of emergency care. The hospital system is testing future uses for mobile devices on Life Flight and in facilities on the ground.
Once organizations have identified and implemented mobile work flows like the one on Life Flight, others will come to light. Users will begin uncovering and suggesting others. And by analyzing results, businesses will be able to uncover the mobile processes that have the biggest returns, as well as those that are most supportive of overall business goals.
To prepare for the future, Klein suggests that organizations “Think ahead and use mobile as an opportunity, and do things in a way that’s going to empower [the] workforce and deliver on mobility’s promise.”
For insights into what the post-PC era will mean for device management, read this Q&A.