The Shift from the Desktop to the Pocket

The IT center of gravity has shifted from the desktop to the pocket.  This shift has been made possible by coupling cloud services and the plethora of powerful mobile devices with their app store and accessory ecosystems.

The rationale behind this transition is pretty obvious to just about everyone – we live in a mobile world. We all carry powerful easy-to-use mobile devices, and we all prefer the cloud-based easy-to-consume application experiences to go with them. The desktops and laptops are getting less use and the tablets and smartphones have quickly become our primary go-to devices.

Consumers have made their preferences clear – they want mobile apps on their smartphones and tablets. Now it’s up to enterprise IT organizations to figure out what to do about it. And it’s not easy. For example, IT has to think about devices, security and networks differently. We have to think about how applications are constructed, consumed and supported differently.

There are still plenty of desktops and laptops hanging around that aren’t going away anytime soon and we will have to continue to support them for a long time. This shift from the desktop to the pocket isn’t a choice. It is happening with or without IT and our success or failure is determined by how we organize, how we build and integrate these capabilities, and how we integrate mobile into the services we offer.

In order to succeed in the mobile first world, you’ll need to organize for success. This means you can’t just support mobile like you did laptops and expect to have success.  When we started, we didn’t have the skills, the team, or the organizational structure to make progress. We hired dedicated mobility professionals and established a dedicated Mobility department that was charged with becoming trusted advisors to our clients. They have to keep up with the rapidly changing world of smartphones, tablets and the wireless carriers they run on.

Similarly, we have had to approach mobile application development different than traditional enterprise application development. It requires a completely different mindset for success. You can’t  simply miniaturize a desktop application. You need to think about finger-friendly applications that run natively on the mobile device and a great user experience is absolutely paramount. People’s patience with mobile apps is incredibly short; if they hit any sort of bump they will move on to something else.

And of course, we have to always balance the user experience with risk, so we strive for the appropriate balance between control and easy data access. This caused a fundamental change in the way we view security. Instead of a “inside-out” approach where we had all assets inside the corporate firewall protected by a “defense in depth” strategy, we now have an outside-in approach where all applications live on the internet and come “outside-in.” This is a fundamental flip of the security model.

We want to think mobile first and foremost going forward, which means you tend to think in terms of sustainable and scalable platforms and processes vs. specific point technologies and isolated use cases. We also think in terms of the entire “stack” of app use cases, app user experience, security and risk, access, and supporting services.

My use of Evernote for my GTD implementation had done more to evolve my understanding of the “mobile first” world we are rapidly moving towards than all the industry advisory groups, trade magazines and conferences combined.

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About Michael Keithley
Digital Transformation CIO and Public Speaker. Previously, CIO at Creative Artists Agency

One Response to The Shift from the Desktop to the Pocket

  1. Michael,
    Your final paragraph reminds me why I’m also experimenting with mobile.
    Content that look great on a desktop is unlikely to be read via smartphone if not designed with that user experience in mind.

    I’m also experimenting with GTD and so pleased to have found your posts about it.

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