In just a couple days we will witness the launch of Windows 10, Microsoft’s last, best hope for continued corporate computing dominance.
But like the Cylons of yore, Microsoft has a plan.
They’ve noticed that the traditional PC market has been tanking while tablets are displacing at least some PCs (though not stemming the tide of a shrinking overall market) as more people rely on their phones as their primary computing device.
Source: Asymco 2015.
While Windows 8 was mostly shunned by IT as this decade’s Vista, high hopes abound for Windows 10 (it has to be good, they skipped a whole number!).
Many clients (more IT than Business users) talk about Windows 10 and Surface tablets as a very viable option to replace traditional laptops as they get retired. And I get it. A lot of IT folks were bullied into “iPads for everybody” by SVPs of Sales (and the like) despite that iPads were hard to manage and required new tools (hello MDM vendors!). Many IT shops were ill prepared to develop custom iPad apps that delivered the same level of UI/UX and constant updating as the AppStore apps employees had grown used to.
And in a time when IT shops are spending 80% of their budget just to ‘keep the lights on’, supporting new devices and “re-building” existing systems to work “natively” on them (all of which require bringing on people with new skills) is not high on the agenda.
Not to mention many of the SVP iPad fans didn’t really have a well thought-out plan regarding what they were going to do with the tablets once they got them.
So it makes it a little easier in hindsight for IT leadership to show there has been little done with the iPads and no ROI. At this point it’s pretty easy to declare the ‘investment’ a waste. The slowdown in iPad sales since 2013 sets up a narrative that a) everyone is starting to see the error of their ways and b) the iPad is a great way to keep your parents connected to your kids via FaceTime, but not to do much more than that (full disclosure: FaceTime, email and Candy Crush are the top iPad use-cases for my parents and mother-in-law).
Don’t Lose the Opportunity for Business Process Improvement
Some of our clients have created a legitimate enterprise strategy for iPads with detailed and well thought-out plans regarding which systems and processes to migrate over to the iPad.
This tablet migration doesn’t mean simply reproducing preexisting forms or spreadsheets. Rather, they’re using this opportunity to reinvent or enhance the business processes based on the device’s capabilities or on the ability to connect to systems in real time.
Gone are the bastardized Excel spreadsheets with macros to make it do things it was never meant to do. Gone is the hassle of emailing said spreadsheets to people who will likely never open them. Gone is the process of making employees fill-in information the device can determine automatically or pull from systems.
Enter new ways to present information to create new and better conversations between employees and customers. Enter the ability to create new service offerings.
Now this is not to say that when Windows 10 and Surface tablets are introduced to the enterprise that all of these benefits of redesigned and refined business process will go away. But I will say it seems extremely likely. If you’re not careful, Windows 10 may kill your mobile strategy.
Consider: the IT team no longer has to recreate and redesign all those current systems! Huzzah!! “You still have Excel and Word and Outlook on your Surface Tablet,” they will say. “You can still access that crappy web portal that has that system we wrote in 2003 via the web browser.” “You can do everything you did before, exactly as you did before!”
They will do this because it’s easier. They will do this because they don’t have the budget or the expertise to do better. They will do this because they like Windows and the ability to have finer control and management over Windows devices. They will do this because that’s what they do.
Thus begins the epitaph to your mobile strategy.