Thursday, 6 October 2011

The New World IT Manager

I have blogged on the changing face of client based computing - the decline of the PC and the growth of devices such as tablets and smartphones. Some may not believe that this has much to do with corporate computing. But it has.

Yesterday, the European President of the world's largest distributor, said exactly the same thing. His angle is that executives and employees are making personal spend on such mobile devices and then asking not the IT managers but the CEO if they can attach them to the corporate network. In his case, this was revenue he was missing out on as many of these devices are being bought via retail outlets or in mobile airtime contracts that his company did not sell.

This phenomenon is the rise of the new IT managers and it is how Apple and Google are inveigling themselves into the corporate world. It's something that vendors like Microsoft would tell us that cannot occur and all these devices do not sit easily with Office products. But it is happening. Even to the extent that you will now see many executives with two phones - a blackberry issued by the company and an Apple or Google based smartphone connected to the network but paid for by themselves. Then they have iPads or tablets too.

This is the dawn of user based computing definitions and it is marginalising the role of the IT manager in the decision making at the desktop or client level. It is the reason why Apple Mac is making a resurgence in the corporate market and 'Ty' Tyson has shown us great graphs that show while PCs decline dramatically, Apple Macs rise strongly in terms of sales into the corporate world as users define the client not IT.

This has profound consequences for traditional volume PC and software vendors. Firstly, all these devices are sold very differently to the usual methodology. Secondly, all of them work in the Cloud in terms of their software and data. Thirdly, this is not a price driven market - smartphones and tablets make far more revenue and gross margins per product than PCs for the vendors. This whole new wave of computing is driven by IT spend that does not use the tradition group purchase, volume discounts and reverse auction tomfoolery - this is being growing one by one with little reference to price.

In all of this then there lies a massive threat to the status quo in terms of channel to market and there is also a massive opportunity. The dynamics in this market are very different now to what we are used to.

It will take a very savvy, well balanced and innovative distribution company to take advantage of this market. Some are placed better than others, for sure and resellers will need to align quickly to seize the opportunities.

One thing is becoming clear. In all the hype and hurrah about Cloud, the client market is where the big change is occurring, not at the server end. And Apple and Google are by a big distance, leading the way in terms on incursion into the new world. Microsoft are still some distance behind and are losing ground rapidly. In choosing their route to market, they may also have determined the path of least success in terms of partnership.

The next two years will be a 'Race for the Client' period and in the early part of the race Apple and Google are winning hands down. Can the mighty Microsoft respond? What are the consequences for Microsoft's operating system and Office productivity suite if it loses significant ground?

The consequences for the traditional channel - the products and services it sells - will be huge. Everyone needs to adopt a very different approach and the Cloud needs to be taken very seriously in all this as it will be the de facto way all these client devices communicate with the world.

Footnote: It was sad to hear that Steve Jobs passed away. Clearly he had known the worst when he stepped down. His legacy is the beginning of the new rise of Apple computing - I believe the best is yet to come from Apple. His visionary ideas brought them back from the brink to be the largest capitalised company in the USA, an achievement unsurpassed in the business world that isolates him for the genius he was. He was an extraordinary man.

No comments: