Definition: Anticipating Boredom

Worse than actual bore­dom, the antic­i­pat­ing vari­ety preys on your mind and makes your worst fears about corporate-mandated meet­ings, or speak­ers who read directly off the slides man­i­fest in a sin­gle imag­i­nary meet­ing in your mind as you wait for a real bor­ing meet­ing to begin.

46% of Citrix Employees* Choose Apple

In case you missed this sta­tis­tic buried in the mes­sage that employee choice seems to be Apple’s entry to the enter­prise.

46% is a huge num­ber, and presents a great growth oppor­tu­nity. Of course, the aster­isks is there because it’s really 46% of the 1,000 employ­ees on the trial pro­gram at Cit­rix, which might have a dif­fer­ent demo­graphic than the broader population.

Sit­ting here at NWC the other day, I saw a guy work­ing. Went up to him and said “you have a cor­po­rate job too, where do you work?”. Some­one over­heard me and was like “how did you know he had a cor­po­rate job?”. Sim­ple. The guy was work­ing on a Dell lap­top and had a SecureID next to him. Cor­po­rate issue just like IBM’s blue suit was back in the day.

I con­tinue to believe that the com­mon think­ing behind PC’s hav­ing a lower cost of own­er­ship than Macs is false. When purely look­ing at the pur­chase price, just one aspect of the total cost of own­er­ship, they are cheaper, so CFO’s con­tinue to pur­chase them by the boatload.

I believe that when peo­ple who use the machines are pay­ing, even out of their own pocket, they believe Macs have more value. That will trans­late into Macs invad­ing the enter­prise as more BYOD pro­grams launch.

When employ­ees make the deci­sion, they choose oth­er­wise. Even if part of the pur­chase price comes out of their own pocket1 employ­ees will choose Macs because they are ones that bear the other aspects of using the lap­top beyond the cost. For me, weight, bat­tery life, num­ber of times a day it needs to reboot, and how long I can use the machine with per­for­mance close to day-one per­for­mance are equally impor­tant to cost.

Oh, and did I men­tion fun. Fun is impor­tant too… and I have a lot more fun with my Mac than I ever did with a PC.

Time will tell. I remain long AAPL in anticipation.

  1. assum­ing these employee-choose pro­grams give a fixed stipend for peo­ple to choose their own lap­top, but per­haps not one that cov­ers the full cost of a Mac []

Kindle Ads are Not Intrusive

Since yesterday’s announce­ments, I’ve been hit by a ton of searches where peo­ple are look­ing to under­stand how intru­sive Kin­dle ads are on the ad sup­ported devices.

In short: They’re not intru­sive of the read­ing expe­ri­ence at all.

The ads show up in two places:

  1. On the front of the device when the devices is pow­ered off, and
  2. At the bot­tom of the device’s inven­tory list

While I don’t think the dis­count is enough, I chose to pur­chase an ad sup­ported device to save a cou­ple of bucks, and I’d do it again.

If you want a funny per­spec­tive on Kindle’s ad-supported devices, read Marco’s post. It’s hilar­i­ous. He seg­ments the two devices as “with ads” and “with self-respect”. Had me rolling on the floor.

I’ve Got Process Governance on My Mind

I went to update my metro­card yes­ter­day, and after charg­ing my card $50, my receipt said “could not write to media call sup­port” (or some­thing close to that).

I went to the booth and the per­son there was won­der­ful. She was pleas­ant, knowl­edge­able, and thor­oughly unable to help me.

I had to call to get my refund.

Well, not really.

I had to call and the auto­mated sys­tem told me I had to write to get my refund.

I spoke to a per­son, then a manager.

You see, I expected it would be easy for them to sim­ply credit the trans­ac­tion. Just like if I were in a café and they billed me wrong. They would undo the wrong trans­ac­tion and redo it cor­rectly right on the spot.

Appar­ently, the MTA (NYC Sub­way sys­tem) can’t do that.

The process is to send in the info, and within 3 – 4 weeks, if I’m lucky, I’ll get the proper refund. Of course, there’s no way to track the sta­tus of that refund process, so I have no idea if they got what I sent them, or if what I sent them was what they need.

I won­dered why. Why couldn’t the clerk in the booth sim­ply exchange my receipt and failed metro­card for one of the proper value? Bet­ter yet, if the machine could tell me what the prob­lem was, why couldn’t it just back the trans­ac­tion out? Or, sub­mit it auto­mat­i­cally to be repaired, and give me a track­ing code? The receipt (and machine) had all the infor­ma­tion needed — the orig­i­nal bal­ance, the charge amount, the prob­lem, the metro­card num­ber, the ID of the auto­mated machine I used, and the last four of my credit card.

When I called, I said, if I called the bank, they’d sim­ply undo the trans­ac­tion. The response? “We’re not a bank.” Well, if I was at a café and they charged me wrong, it would sim­ply be undone/redone. “We’re not a café.”. Really? I didn’t realize.

I think what it came down to was a lack of trust of the employ­ees. In order to pre­vent abuse/fraud, there was a tightly con­trolled sys­tem to man­age refunds. The sys­tem is prob­a­bly centralized.

What I don’t under­stand, with all the mod­ern tech­nol­ogy and dis­trib­uted gov­er­nance out there, why they can’t do a bet­ter job at detect­ing and pre­vent­ing fraud/abuse, while at the same time improv­ing the cus­tomer experience?

You might think, it’s the MTA, they have no rea­son to care about the cus­tomer expe­ri­ence. I’d dis­agree. I think there is com­plete aware­ness that a bet­ter expe­ri­ence leads to more under­stand­ing cus­tomers. In the last decade I’ve per­son­ally noticed improve­ments at the Post Office and the Depart­ment of Motor Vehi­cles related appar­ently to the cus­tomer expe­ri­ence. I remem­ber read­ing that a side effect of focus­ing on the cus­tomer expe­ri­ence at the DMV was bet­ter employee sat­is­fac­tion. But, I digress.

I think the MTA could save a lot of money pro­cess­ing these refunds, while improv­ing the cus­tomer expe­ri­ence quite “eas­ily”. Why? Well, this process is really easy. Refund a failed trans­ac­tion. It’s easy to fig­ure out where the com­plex parts of the pro­ces are, and design around them. It’s all been done before by oth­ers. It would save money, give peo­ple more con­fi­dence, and it seems that stuff like this hap­pens a lot, so would affect a lot of people.

By the way, notice how I used “easy” and “com­plex” in the same descrip­tion there. Think about this… Easy is to hard as com­plex is to sim­ple.

The Higher Insight

Arti­cle first pub­lished as The Higher Insight on Technorati.

I’ve been think­ing about a recent post by the Win­dows Engi­neer­ing Team on upcom­ing design changes to Win­dows 8 Explorer. It’s an inter­est­ing arti­cle, and makes for good read­ing. The back­story: Win­dows 8 devel­op­ers blog about what they’re doing for Win­dows 8, and you get really inter­est­ing insight into what’s going on up in Redmond.

Though I liked the arti­cle, some­thing about it both­ered me. I’m very pro-Apple, and pas­sion­ately for user-experience. I was both­ered by some­thing that went beyond my bias, it took me a while to be able to artic­u­late it. Most Mac/Windows argu­ments are emo­tional. I’m going to put words to that emotion.

The jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for the new rib­bon on Win­dows Explorer is sci­en­tific. They claim that “the com­mands that make up 84% of what [peo­ple] do in Explorer are now all avail­able on this one tab.”

Microsoft is miss­ing the higher insight on this one, an insight that Apple gets.

The trends in mobile, begun with the iPhone/iOS, have led peo­ple to have an inti­mate rela­tion­ship with their devices.

A more inti­mate rela­tion­ship with tech­nol­ogy. This is the higher insight. Inti­macy, not which part of the win­dow they’re click­ing in, guides the user experience.

With OS X Lion and upcom­ing iOS 5, we’re see­ing Apple merge these two envi­ron­ments and bring this inti­macy to the desktop.

Microsoft is build­ing a bet­ter Win­dows Explorer, no doubt. Most likely, way bet­ter than the frus­trat­ing Finder on the Mac. But, that’s not what mat­ters. Watch the way peo­ple relate to their iOS devices, and under­stand what we crave from tech­nol­ogy. Not a bet­ter Win­dows Explorer. We crave a bet­ter tech­nol­ogy expe­ri­ence so that we can get things done and for­get that we’re using a computer.

Apples vs. Oranges

Once I made this con­nec­tion to the higher insight, I real­ized some­thing else.

We can com­pare Microsoft to RIM.

Desk­top to mobile device.

Jus­ti­fi­ca­tion to justification.

I remem­ber RIM’s jus­ti­fi­ca­tions when the iPhone first came out. Their tar­get demo­graphic were seri­ous busi­ness peo­ple who needed key­boards. Their tar­get demo­graphic needed secu­rity. Their tar­get demo­graphic needed enter­prise man­age­ment tools.

They gave us a util­i­tar­ian argument.

Com­put­ing is no longer util­ity. As infor­ma­tion work­ers, our com­put­ers are the tools of our trade. They’ve become part of our per­sona, how we inter­act with our jobs and with each other.

Guess what? RIM has not only been crushed by Apple, but RIM no longer has such con­fi­dence in their demo­graphic. In fact, RIM have just released a social music ser­vice. I won­der how they jus­tify that fea­ture with their board­room demographic?

RIM clearly had an enter­prise class offer­ing, an estab­lished user base, and a ded­i­cated fol­low­ing. None of which mat­tered in the end.

Obvi­ously, RIM hasn’t been around nearly as long as Microsoft. RIM’s roots into the enter­prise might be wide, but they’re not deep (as com­pared to Microsoft).

Dis­plac­ing Microsoft, and all the cus­tom apps and admin­is­tra­tive tools writ­ten to it is a whole other story. Never-the-less, I can’t help but think about how unlikely it seemed that Apple would crack open RIM in the enter­prise, espe­cially con­sid­er­ing how quickly it did so.

If Microsoft con­tin­ues with their util­i­tar­ian approach to com­put­ing, it will take time but they’ll suf­fer the same result as RIM in the end.