PC, Post-PC, and Post-Mobile

Words mat­ter.

A lot.

I’m look­ing for advice. Advice that I couldn’t fig­ure out how to squeeze into a tweet, which means it needs a whole post.

I dis­like the phrase ‘inter­net of things’. To my del­i­cate ears, not many peo­ple can pull the phrase off with­out sound­ing either airy-fairy or too technical.

The phrase also seems too loaded and as if it’ll be irrel­e­vant in a few years when every­thing is just smart and no one cares about what it’s called (see slides 41 – 44 from Bene­dict Evans’ Mobile is Eat­ing the World pre­sen­ta­tion).

To me, the most impor­tant thing to under­stand about the dynam­ics of the evo­lu­tion of com­put­ing devices is:

  • First there were PCs (includ­ing main­frame ter­mi­nals). The com­put­ing came to them, because the com­put­ers them­selves didn’t move.
  • Next there were mobile com­put­ers. Mobile com­put­ers still mostly only inter­act with their own­ers, but there are a lot more of them. An order of mag­ni­tude more.
  • Third, and the next order of mag­ni­tude jump is when com­put­ing power is built into every­thing. It’s not just the device that’s smart, but the envi­ron­ment (think smart home or smart retail or smart healthcare).

The device will inter­act with the envi­ron­ment for a con­text dri­ven com­put­ing expe­ri­ence. It’s not only the owner that inter­act with the mobile device, but also the con­text in which the owner exists at that moment in time.

So, rather than use the phrase ‘inter­net of things’ I want to use the phrase ‘post-mobile’ to cap­ture the import and impact to those who think about tech­nol­ogy solutions.

  1. It’s an order of mag­ni­tude larger than mobile in terms of ‘smart devices’. This implies a lot more com­plex­ity (a lot more mov­ing parts).
  2. The value is going to be deliv­ered via soft­ware, a lot of soft­ware.
  3. The soft­ware that peo­ple want is going to be dri­ven by the job to be done.

What do you think of the phrase ‘post-mobile’ for cat­e­go­riz­ing this next phase of com­put­ing? Do you think peo­ple will under­stand what I mean? Do I sound just like a dif­fer­ent ver­sion of airy-fairy?

Most impor­tantly, if you fast for­ward 5 years and look back, do you think it sounds bet­ter in ret­ro­spect than IoT does?




The Kind of Innovation Real People Need

A lot of peo­ple dis­agree with my “every­one should be able to code” atti­tude. “Cod­ing is hard enough”, they say. “You can’t let ama­teurs do it — every­thing will break.”


But then I read about what hap­pened at Rut­gers, and I know I’m right.

Vaib­hav Verma was bored and frus­trated. In other words, he was moti­vated. He wrote an app that noti­fied him when peo­ple dropped a closed course that he was inter­ested in tak­ing. Within a semes­ter 8,000 other stu­dents were using it.

The uni­ver­sity responded by shut­ting him down.

A good rea­son to shut it down

In fact, it was a very poorly writ­ten appli­ca­tion. It just kept query­ing the reg­is­tra­tion sys­tem over and over. There’s no way this would scale, it most cer­tainly put a strain on the reg­is­tra­tion sys­tem in a way that would impact every­one else try­ing to reg­is­ter, and it would prob­a­bly be expen­sive to fix on the back end so the appli­ca­tion could be prop­erly written.

That said, 8,000 peo­ple adopt­ing the appli­ca­tion in a sin­gle semes­ter prob­a­bly means there’s some­thing valu­able hap­pen­ing for students.

Instead of help­ing these 8,000 stu­dents, the uni­ver­sity pre­ferred to just shut them down.

Sound famil­iar?

Remem­ber when we couldn’t use Macs at work?

Why can’t IT sup­port this sort of inno­va­tion, and pro­vide a plat­form that helps peo­ple write appli­ca­tions that don’t break every­thing? Why do com­pa­nies feel that it’s OK to sim­ply “shut it down”?

Bring or write your own software

Even­tu­ally com­pa­nies are going to real­ize that peo­ple aren’t try­ing to break rules for their own sake. They’re actu­ally just try­ing to do a bet­ter job, or make their lives eas­ier, or both. By shut­ting them down they’re doing a lot of dam­age. To morale. To the sense of belonging.

How do you think peo­ple will respond when you just shut them down?

For kids that grow up writ­ing soft­ware to solve prob­lems, who have the whole inter­net of APIs on which to exper­i­ment, work­ing at a com­pany where they can’t is going to be perplexing.

It’s going to be insulting.

It doesn’t make sense to me that com­pa­nies aren’t mov­ing more aggres­sively in this direc­tion. The inno­va­tion occur­ring out “in the real world” is dra­matic. One would think com­pa­nies would want to participate.

UX Discord

I’ve now added credit cards from three dif­fer­ent banks into Apple­Pay — Amer­i­can Express, Citibank, and Chase.

Two of the cards pro­vided a bril­liantly sim­ple expe­ri­ence for adding cards. One did not.

Of those three banks, I saw one on TV talk­ing about how great their expe­ri­ence was. The con­text was how the bank will com­pete when Apple­Pay is the same for all banks.

Iron­i­cally, the one bank pro­mot­ing their focus on expe­ri­ence was the one with the bad experience.

(Looks at Chase) Can you guess which bank it was?

User Expe­ri­ence Lessons

The chal­lenge today is that there’s a lot of trans­parency and dis­trust. We hear exec­u­tives talk, and we see the results. I know that the exec­u­tive I saw on TV hasn’t played with other banks’ cards in Apple­Pay. I know that he doesn’t under­stand the tech­ni­cal side of what’s going on.

Every­thing has to align. Mes­sag­ing and deliv­ery. The post-mobile world, where com­put­ing (and there­fore soft­ware) is per­va­sive and ever-present means that mes­sag­ing and tech­nol­ogy expe­ri­ence have to align, or con­sumers are not going to believe the messaging.

Here are three things to con­sider in today’s cul­ture of technology:

  1. You’ve got to test every vec­tor into prod­uct adop­tion for on-boarding. You can only make one first impres­sion, right? I’m sure the rea­son I had trou­ble is because the credit card was on a joint account. It picked up my wife’s con­tact infor­ma­tion, not mine. I couldn’t get the acti­va­tion code they insisted on send­ing me (until I was with her). When we we were open­ing the joint account they asked us who would be the pri­mary account holder. Should have known there’d be trou­ble back then. A joint account shouldn’t have a pri­mary account holder. It’s. A. Joint. Account.
  2. Rethink every­thing. Turns out, only Chase required such a con­fir­ma­tion code to be entered. I’m sure some­one thinks it’s a good idea, but those same peo­ple prob­a­bly think that forc­ing users to change pass­words every three months improves secu­rity. Get rid of fric­tion when it doesn’t improve things.
  3. Use a competitor’s prod­uct. I always won­dered why the engi­neers at Motorola never bought a Nokia phone. Chase dude, please go get a dif­fer­ent card and see how the other banks do it.

For the Record

First, there is no record.

Sec­ond, I’ve removed my for­mer “top of wal­let” card from my wal­let because it doesn’t sup­port ApplePay.

Simple Observation About TouchID

I’m glad we’ve been acquired by [big com­pany] but I worry about hav­ing enough resources now to get our job done.”

(said no one ever in the his­tory of tech­nol­ogy acquisitions)

The com­mon thought is that big com­pa­nies have more, not fewer, resources to apply to problems.

Why is it then that small com­pa­nies like Day One, AgileBits, Lev­elUp, and Box sup­port TouchID within 30 days or so of the GA iOS release, but big ones like Fidelity, Chase, or Amer­i­can Express do not?

Aren’t these smaller com­pa­nies oper­at­ing in resource scarcity rel­a­tive to the big­ger ones? How is it they can do more?

Trick is, it’s not “how” but “why” that you should be ask­ing. Why can they do more?

It reminds me of the dat­ing advice I can’t wait to give my kids. “It doesn’t mat­ter what she says. How does she spend her time? Does she call or make plans with you? Then she likes you. If not, she’s just not that into you.”

Adapting to Digital Change

I deliv­ered a webi­nar with one of my tal­ented CA col­leagues, Tyson Whit­ten.

The topic, using API’s to delight cus­tomers, focused on finan­cial ser­vices. I pre­sented a hand­ful of inno­v­a­tive, real-world use cases, which Tyson backed up with some tech­ni­cal know-how and prod­uct architecture.

It’s about an hour long. Before invest­ing the hour, if you like, you can read a post I wrote with details on a loy­alty point pro­gram use case for APIs.