Sitting at my desk this morning, I am surrounded by my electronics: Two laptops (one for work and one for personal use), an iPad, an iPhone and a Kindle e-reader. In addition, there is a cordless “land line” phone. Should I leave my desk to get a snack or answer the door, you can bet that at least one of those devices will travel with me.
Connectivity no longer is something we seek out and plug into. We wear it, we carry it with us; it has become in practical terms an extension of our bodies. In fact, many of us find it is increasingly difficult to disconnect; people assume that we are reachable in our cars, in our beds, while running errands, during exercise, and while on vacation.
In 2014, for the first time, internet connectivity via mobile devices exceeded desktop connectivity, according to comScore, a digital analytics service. And it’s not just social media chat and video downloads that are happening on mobiles. Increasingly, people want to get their jobs done using the same mobile devices on which they seek amusement. These days, I probably read and answer more emails on my tablet than I do on my laptop. It’s only when I have to attach a file that is sitting on my laptop that I resort to what increasingly seems an old-fashioned device.
As we store more and more of our work on the cloud, and as tablet and phone apps become more powerful, even that need for larger devices is likely to become less important. Essentially, we now demand – and at companies like Trimble, our customers demand – that they be able to get the same things done on a touchscreen mobile device as they can on a larger, more tethered one. In our domain of Real Estate and Workplace Solutions, that means everything from database updates to interactions with BIM models and maps.
I’m an old-fashioned (a term I prefer to just plain old) guy who often clings to what I have been doing, but I have pretty much given up buying physical books and magazines, CDs and DVDs in favor of their electronic and streaming equivalents. Recently I even marked a major milestone – I went on a trip without taking my laptop. Just my tablet and smartphone. Granted, it was over a weekend, but I did keep up with correspondence and didn’t feel at all limited by having only my lightest-weight electronics with me.
The point of all this is that for those of us in the technology business, mobility has become not just an add-on but a core necessity. Consumer adoption has led the way to business adoption and desire has transformed into need – at least perceived need.
“Consumers have turned the tables on technology companies. More than ever it is consumers that are charting the path that technology must follow. In the not-so-distant past technology companies creating devices and applications could depend upon the predictable behavior of their minions to show up in droves to purchase what they had produced. This long standing paradigm in the technology marketplace has been turned upside-down.
“Today consumers and businesses resist the urge to make mindless technology purchases, fighting the temptation to grab every shiny object placed before them. Jaded, or more accurately educated, by fast-paced technological advances, consumers are placing specific demands on the devices and applications they purchase and the experiences they provide. While these demands may vary somewhat from market segment to market segment there are several demands that are common across all segments; ubiquitous connectivity; high performance; simplicity of use; constant access to friends, peers and communities; simplicity of use; device agnostic access to documents, spreadsheets and other common file types; and did I mention simplicity of use...”
Bob says this because our portable devices have conditioned us to expect more and more power at our fingertips – touch-screen capabilities that respond to the pressure of our hands, on-demand photography and videography, sound recording, personalized alerts and alarms, etc.
Every time a new type or even just a version of a device is released, expectations for mobile power take a giant leap as well. The downside of that is that mobile technologies that seemed revolutionary just a few years ago may now seem dated or doomed to oblivion.
But on the much brighter side, developments in technology these days seem as a rule to move faster than even the biggest optimists predict. That’s why I think it’s a safe bet to predict that by the end of 2015, we will see new mobile capabilities in business that we aren’t even talking about in January. Trimble, which led the world in creating the Internet of Things – smart, connected devices that empower a wide variety of industries -- will be a huge part of that, I’m sure. People like Bob are determined to make it so.