Interesting conversation over at eBizQ set-off by Peter’s question:
Will the ‘personal cloud’ replace the PC by 2014?
The question is driven by a Gartner position that the personal cloud will replace the personal computer as the center of users’ digital lives by 2014. One of the fascinating things about the conversation is how seemingly few of the respondents bothered to click through to the Gartner article. They’re answering Peter’s short-hand and not responding to Gartner’s title. The difference being “cloud replacing PC” or “cloud replacing PC as center of users’ digital lives”. Two very different things!
I have this “feeling” about how things are evolving (devolving?).
A hundred years ago, people were craftsman. You didn’t hire a carpenter and give him tools. He and his tools came together. A true craftsman took pride in the tools to get his job done, and the tools had real meaning to him (maybe they were handed down? maybe they were his custom design that differentiated his work?).
The industrial age brought in the factory floor, and people became replaceable like widgets. People were slotted into their place, their machine, and they were productive.
I believe we’re moving back to a “craftsman” work model. We’re knowledge workers, and our tools are our own. Those tools we choose, we cultivate, we care for because they enable us to deliver a differentiated product. They enable us to deliver the quality that we believe, based on our specialized knowledge of our markets, allow us to deliver the best product possible.
[pullquote]No more production line working for us knowledge people.[/pullquote]
You can see this trend a lot in people who don’t go into an office (me). Or, in the large dependency on project-based freelance work. Look around, there are signs of this trend everywhere… from coworking1 spaces, to BYOD, to cost-cutting and the need to find solutions, like healthcare, for independent knowledge workers.
That said, the cloud is like a magic portal. Where you can keep 100lbs of stuff in some secret space that can be accessed by a simple spell (URL/username/password). The foundation for our knowledge work and the tools we use to get the job done are an irreplaceable part of who we are.
For the consumer, the cloud enables the incremental addition of hardware to our own personal computing ecosystems. Adding devices that quickly and easily take advantage of our digital baggage.
Think of it a different way, at least from a consumer perspective. How many times have you heard “I’m not sure what happened to my old music. It was on my other computer, but then I got a new one.” Five years ago it was pretty common for people to use their work laptops for their personal stuff. Quit the job, and you think you’ve copied your music over… but maybe not.
It’s not just that we’ll “replace the PC” (a phrase I find nauseating), but that cloud and knowledge workers’ dependency on the cloud will highly trivialize the use-model of the PC. Companies that want to take advantage of my knowledge are going to have to figure out how to slot in my “cloud personality” to their IT infrastructure, or I won’t be able to effectively get my job done.
It’s like hiring a master craftsman, then handing him chinese-made tools from Home Depot and saying “here you go, have at it.”
I believe that’s what Gartner was talking about. And, for once not only do I agree with them but this is an important concept for IT to get their heads around.