By Brian Fino and Mark Eisenberg
As members of the Microsoft partner community, we have often been frustrated with the company’s inability to articulate their own visions. Recently Microsoft has been demonstrating a very clear vision for the enterprise, albeit with a strong consumer flavor. The announcement of the new Surface device coupled with the previews of Windows 8 show their strongest hand yet in the world of enterprise computing.
It’s helpful to take a look back at how computing has improved enterprise productivity. Forty years ago, leading edge companies started to “enhance” the productivity of their employees through the introduction of technology on to their desks. One would be hard pressed to even attempt to apply the term “user experience” to these machines. Whether it was a “green screen” terminal or a PC, the applications used focused on automating a business function. The user ultimately had to conform themselves to the technology. If the application were required to do the job, then it would be mastered by rote. If it was not required, it was quietly dropped. Money was invested with limited returns.
Apple’s introduction of the iPad significantly changed this paradigm. For the first time people could experience an interaction with a computer that did not feel like an interaction with a computer. Using the iPad was something you wanted to do. And business users wanted to do it, too. This form factor and engaging user experience obviated the need to carry a laptop to merely check email or perform simple work tasks. All in the same place where they read the Wall Street Journal. It felt good.
But how to harness this new experience to achieve the long sought goal of improving productivity. These business applications would be easy to use and workers would want to use them. And they could be mobile. This would be good.
But (and there’s always a but), not every problem fits the iPad form. Sometimes a real keyboard is necessary. Sometimes the worker does not need to be mobile. Perhaps a large screen is important. And as ugly as they are sometimes, those old business applications are still needed, and they can’t run on an iPad.
It is in those gaps where Microsoft has built their vision. They are building a new ecosystem that embraces and extends the brilliance of the iPad while addressing all of the needs of the modern business. With Windows 8 and its new user interface, and the Surface devices with their feature sets designed to address consumer and business needs, Microsoft’s vision is clear. They have created a place where business applications are intuitive to use and deliver comprehensive business value.
With Microsoft making such a firm commitment, companies that can benefit from mobile applications have a big decision to make: iPad or Windows 8. Both will likely deliver an application that will make your employees more effective. But which is better for your company?
That is where the Microsoft advantage reveals itself. Your IT department already knows how to manage Microsoft based devices. Both offer the compelling user experience, but only one – Windows 8 – offers all of the functionality that your IT department needs to efficiently deploy and manage these new applications. And Microsoft’s decades of experience supporting your IT group will extend to their new Surface devices.
And that is why business leaders should care about Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) again. A compelling new software platform combined with innovative hardware designs that encompass not only the needs of the consumer, but the business user. The task remaining is to figure out how best to use these new tools to most effectively expand your business. A mobile strategy is not about deploying mobile devices. It’s about the business processes being improved with the mobile device. Therein lies your competitive advantage.
Brian Fino and Mark Eisenberg are Managing Director and Director, respectively, of Fino Consulting. Founded in 2006, Fino provides cloud and mobile application design, development and consulting services to Fortune 1000 organizations. Fino services a wide-range of industries including finance, energy, media, retail and not-for-profit institutions. Fino is committed to increasing the profitability and organizational efficiencies of its clients by helping them determine the best technology strategies that meet their business goals. The company is headquartered in New York City. For more information, visit www.finoconsulting.com.