The future of the enterprise is in IT systems and applications, like Apple's Yosemite and iOS 8, which display a person's current computing state on any device at any time.
By Samuel Greengard
If someone would have suggested a decade ago that Apple would completely revolutionize the future of enterprise computing, the needle on the laugh-o-meter would have broken the machine. The idea was so absurd it was beyond anyone's comprehension.
But that was then and this is now. The iPhone, iPad and consumer-centric focus of Apple have swept over the enterprise like a giant tidal wave. But, in this case, the wave just keeps coming and coming.
CIOs had better take notice. Cupertino's recent announcements about its forthcoming operating systems, Yosemite and iOS 8, will change the enterprise and overall state of computing far more than any device or tool that has come before it. Together, Yosemite and iOS 8 will take the consumerization of IT to a whole new level not because of the products themselves but because of the concept behind them.
There's only one word you need to know: extensibility. I've been harping about the need for computing that is device-independent for the last couple of years. While cloud applications such as Dropbox, Evernote, Microsoft Office 365 and iCloud sync some of the data some of the time, there are enormous productivity gains with syncing just about all the data all the time—and without any human interaction.
In other words, a person begins writing an e-mail on a tablet and the same message appears on a smartphone and a laptop—exactly where the person left off. Ditto for documents, presentations, spreadsheets and everything else. What's more, browser windows sync and photos and other content appear on every device in the exact same state. On top of all of this, it's possible to instantly transfer documents and more between Apple devices.
Apple will introduce a number of new enterprise capabilities in the next release of its OS: device enrollment, which allows a company to receive pre-programmed devices with their company's settings already in place; support for third-party keyboards; industrial grade e-mail with encryption; Wi-Fi calling; passcodes for specific apps; and improved IT management tools.
While these features range from nifty to significant, they are incremental enhancements that do not transform the computing paradigm. The future of the enterprise is in IT systems and applications that display a person's current computing state on any device at any time. Think of this as sort of a thin client or stateless computing concept adapted for today's mobile and cloud world.
CIOs must start working toward this goal. Eliminate the need to upload, download and sync everything and you remap and rewrite the rules of productivity. You create a computing environment and work environment that is truly transformative.
About the Author
Samuel Greengard is a contributing writer for CIO Insight. To read his previous CIO Insight blog post, "A Lack of Leadership Cripples Business and IT," click here.