By Dave Curry
This is the second post in a series discussing three technologies that are reshaping the playing field for advisors — mobile devices, social media and web-service based integration.
I still have a framed poster enlarged from the cover of the June, 1985 issue of Datamation Magazine. It is a cartoon of a businessman seated at his desk, his fingers poised to type above the scattered wreckage of an IBM PC. His face is blackened and his office is filled with smoke. He is thinking, “It’s never done that before!”
The banner headline asks, “How Are Your PC Users Getting Along?”
The PC Revolution
Only a few years before that issue was published, IBM had “legitimized” the personal computer as a business tool with the introduction of the IBM PC. The cartoon captured the sentiment of many professionals in Data Processing who still felt that these devices were nuisances, if not toys. They believed that PCs would never
have the capacity to solve serious business problems. They worried that end-users could not be trusted to keep business data safe and sane. They felt overburdened by demands to support unfamiliar platforms and reformat data from paper reports to electronic files.
In many ways these people were right. Mainframes were better at storing data. Career programmers were better at developing programs to process it. Professional operations staff were better at sanitizing and safeguarding it. But the minute that business users discovered that they could use this new technology to solve their own business problems without waiting weeks or months for Data Processing to get around to it, the fix was in. If DP wouldn’t play ball, department managers simply expensed PCs and hired some kid (yours truly, among others) to program whatever they couldn’t do in Lotus 1-2-3.
In the end, the “PC Revolution” swept the field. Data Processing was renamed “Information Technology” to better reflect the department’s role in the support of end-user computing. Magazines with names like “PC Magazine” and “Info World” supplanted Datamation and its kind.
“How are your PC users doing?” may still be a good question, but it sounds quaint. We’re all PC users now and we take the problems in stride.
But the wheel keeps turning.
Today many analysts believe that the rise of mobile devices has ushered in a “Post-PC Era”. We geeks might argue the finer points, but no one who has a service to offer or a message to communicate can safely ignore the implications of this.
Is Your Business “Mobile-Friendly”?
Your business partners, employees and (most importantly) customers are going mobile. So how are they doing?
Visit your website using the browser on a smartphone. What do you see? Is it scaled down to near-illegibility with links that are too small to hit with your finger? Does it depend on mouse-over effects that don’t work with touch screens? Are the publications and videos presented in formats that can’t be displayed? If so, that’s the experience that the 11% of the U.S. adult population who use smartphones for almost all their browsing will have with your company’s presence on the Internet.
Search for your company’s name on the Apple App Store or Google Play (formerly Android Market). Did you find an app? Is it yours? If not, you’re missing an opportunity to put your brand and message on one of the devices that 50% of the U.S. adult population owns. Learn more about private labeled Liberty apps here.
Attempt to use a smartphone or tablet to access the applications your business depends on. Can you even get to them? If so, can you use all of their functions? Do your associates or employees have the tools they need to do business remotely using mobile devices in the event of an emergency? How about if they are using mobile technology to foster closer relationships with your clients?
If your mobile users are happily slurping a skinny latte along with the applications, information assets and marketing you’ve laid at their fingertips, then congratulations! But if they’re picking bits of glass out of their teeth like the hapless suit in my poster from 27 years ago, don’t despair. They’re certainly not alone. The challenges of mobile technology are many and the solutions are immature (and still developing). We’ll look at both in my next post.
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