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.

It’s Not Programming, It’s Problem Solving

Children Learn to ProgramThere will come a time, not to far off, where we stop refer­ring to “mobile com­put­ing” and just say “computing.”

Seems like, in spite of the ridicule I’ve received with these ideas in the past, peo­ple aren’t going to be “pro­gram­ming com­put­ers,” they’ll sim­ply be “prob­lem solving.”

I’ve writ­ten before about every­one learn­ing to code, and in my newish role at CA that’s trans­lated into the idea that:

Any per­son that does busi­ness with an orga­ni­za­tion (employee, part­ner, or cus­tomer) should be able to write soft­ware to make their expe­ri­ence better.

It’s a very bold state­ment, con­sid­er­ing that short of writ­ing an excel macro or export­ing a CSV file, most enter­prise tech­nol­ogy is quite inac­ces­si­ble to mere ‘peo­ple.’ [Read more…]

A Business Case for Building a Software Innovation Platform

Obama healthcare fails because of failed software innovation

Agility. Cloud. Mobile. BYOD. Agile. DevOps.

Empty buzz­words. When it comes to com­mu­ni­cat­ing how tech­nol­ogy can enable busi­ness inno­va­tion, it’s dif­fi­cult to cre­ate a talk-track that brings it home. It’s hard to have a con­ver­sa­tion that takes it from buzz­word to mean­ing­ful & action­able plan in any­thing shorter than a the­sis. Per­son­ally, I make these con­nec­tions, I com­mu­ni­cate value, though metaphor or cul­tur­ally rel­e­vant observations.

This post is the lat­ter. It’s also a way to frame how crit­i­cal soft­ware is to business/policy inno­va­tion and why we’re so far away from cap­tur­ing soft­ware inno­va­tion en-masse.

Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus

In our case, it’s more like busi­ness peo­ple are from Earth, and tech­nol­ogy peo­ple are from Orion. As I thought through the impor­tance of cap­tur­ing inno­va­tion it became clear to me that the prob­lem is not about tech­nol­ogy, at least not at the high­est level of think­ing. The prob­lem is how peo­ple mak­ing deci­sions com­mu­ni­cate (with each other).

Busi­nesses that are agile & will­ing to embrace cloud infra­struc­ture will have an advan­tage over ones that don’t.


We’re all aware of the top tech­ni­cal trends and the top finan­cial trends1 . The trick is, how do we inter­pret these trends in con­text? How do we make the tech­ni­cal trends com­pre­hen­si­ble to the busi­ness peo­ple? How do we make busi­ness trends rel­e­vant to the tech­ni­cal staff or soft­ware devel­op­ers? How do we do this in a way that helps every­one do a bet­ter job?

My favorite exam­ple is the obser­va­tion by most non-technical peo­ple — why does it take IT so long to deliver some­thing, when apps on my phone get updated so much faster?

One of my favorite quotes on this comes from a bug AT&T has with it’s voice­mail on the iPhone:

iOS 7 came out almost four months ago. Four. Months. Com­plaints have been con­stant since then. What pos­si­ble excuse could they have for not push­ing out an update already?


It’s not about explain­ing what mobile is. It’s not about explain­ing what cloud is. It’s about explain­ing what mat­ters to the person.

Why does it take so long to deliver, and more impor­tantly, what can we do about it? [Read more…]

  1. Mobile, cloud, social, big data; Cap­i­tal & effi­ciency ratios, data secu­rity, reg­u­la­tory gov­er­nance & com­pli­ance, multi-channel/omni-channel, and ‘what the heck do I do with my branches’ []

Getting to Yes

Learn to CodeCon­cep­tu­ally, should any­one in your com­pany “with an itch” be able to write soft­ware to to scratch it?

All “how” ques­tions aside… should an employee be able to cre­ate solu­tions that enable them to do their jobs bet­ter using a company’s dig­i­tal assets?

Before you say no, let me remind you [Read more…]