Computing Everywhere: An IT Revolution

Computing Everywhere
Computing Everywhere

Our family was watching a movie the other night. One of the actresses was familiar. My wife and I had seen her before. We sat there racking our brains for a few minutes when my daughter finally blurted out that she was in a TV series we used to watch.

We looked over and saw her there with her iPhone in hand. She looked the actress up on IMDB and found it. It hadn’t even crossed our minds. But my daughter saw no need to waste time, effort, and frustration messing around trying to determine an answer that was at her fingertips.

It made me realize two trends that are taking place. First is the fact that the millennial generation (those born during the decade leading to the change of centuries) automatically thinks of Googling, IMDBing, or Wikipedia-ing the answer.

Those darned kids

Some old-timers may complain that this generation doesn’t figure anything out on their own. They have to look it up. They’re never going to remember anything.

I don’t think it’s a bad thing. If it is a fact that you can look up, why not. There is a saying in consulting that you have to be smarter than Google. This means that you can’t be a good consultant if you just know a bunch of facts. The client can Google it and get that much.

To be a good consultant, you have to be able to take those facts, combine them with your knowledge, and be able to solve problems that apply to your client’s business.

Millennials aren’t hurting themselves by looking up facts. They’re getting a head start on the information. Then they will be better prepared to solve the problems.

See my related post: 4 Ways the World is Changing in Front of Your Eyes

Computing everywhere

The second trend is the fact that we find computing everywhere. Going back to just the early nineties, people had personal computers. But any software that was loaded probably came from a 3½” floppy disk – or a stack of them. We used computers for word documents, spreadsheets and games like Leisure Suit Larry.

In the mid-nineties, the internet became available for public use. It gave us access to the outside world through our computers. It gave us access to shopping and a lot of information that was previously more difficult, if not impossible to access. But we still needed to go to our computer to find it.

In 2007, Apple introduced the first iPhone, which led to the smart phone generation. Three years later, they introduced the iPad, blazing a trail for tablets from many other companies.

This mobility allowed people to create applications (apps) specifically for use on these mobile devices. Combine this with the millennials’ comfort with mobile devices and the internet. More mobile apps drew more people to use them. More people using them, bred more apps.

Now, it is expected by many for a company to have a mobile app. Moreover, the expectation is that it be informative, entertaining, and rewarding.

The mobile app should provide information about the company’s products and services. It should be fun and entertaining, preferably with a game that can be played that relates to the product line. Finally, the app should provide badges or some other reward that the user can collect to purchase products or redeem for some other value.

Mobile apps have become “loyalty tools,” enticing users to return to the app on a regular basis. Continued use is designed to seduce them to purchase products, share their experience with others, and develop a loyal customer base.

Crowdsourcing

Other apps allow the user base to collectively provide their content. Apps like “Yelp” allow individuals to rate their experiences with restaurants and other retail stores. A user in an unfamiliar location can use the app to find a nearby hair salon or a pizza restaurant. Based on the rankings of previous patrons, they can find what they’re looking for and select a retailer with high user rankings in minutes.

Crowdsourcing is used in real time also. Traffic apps like “Waze” allow users to provide up to the minute traffic information to update users of police locations and traffic backups in the same area. This allows users to avoid congested areas during their commutes.

IT: Integrated instead of involved

Companies are finding that information technology is no longer a support function. Instead of taking orders for a new order entry system, IT is working with marketing. The company’s marketing strategy is tightly integrated with IT. A mobile app should not be treated as an add-on feature. It is part of the company’s overarching go-to-market strategy.

A company that “scrapes the screen” of their website to make it mobile-friendly will miss the boat. Users aren’t looking for the website on their device. They want an app that was intended for device use and for device users.

A great opportunity for consultants

Any new trend in technology is a boon for consultants. When the World Wide Web was introduced in the 90s, it was a windfall for consulting firms who had developed web development capabilities.

When Google began changing their algorithms for search engine results page rankings, search engine optimization (SEO) became the big target. SEO consulting became the next in-demand opportunity for the consulting industry.

See my related post: How to Keep Up On Your Industry

Now it is mobile. Mobile strategy and mobile application development are the latest opportunities for the consulting industry. It is one of a number of areas that companies will need help figuring out over the next several years.

Disruptive technologies like mobile cause many businesses to step back, re-plan, and change direction. These disruptions are what keep consulting firms in business, as long as they stay up to date with those disruptions.

Is your company computing everywhere?

As always, I welcome your comments and criticisms.

If you would like to learn more about working in consulting, get Lew’s book Consulting 101: 101 Tips for Success in Consulting at Amazon.com

Image courtesy of Witthaya Phonsawat at FreeDigitalPhotos.net 

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Using a client laptop