set in our ways?
Rob Bamforth, Principal Analyst
Mobile Mandelbrot – set in our ways? http://www.quocirca.com © 2013 Quocirca Ltd
The ever-decreasing circles of technologyminiaturisation are not quite taking us down theroads followed by Star Trek or Dick Tracey. Surewe have the smart and small communicators andgadgets, and a cloud of networks and services,but we still rely on many old concepts. Tabletsand smartphones are all well and good, but youstill need a desktop or notebook PC to do realwork – at least that’s what some say.In that way of working, the devices keepshrinking, but they are always only ever seen asmobile companions reliant on a big fixed brother- once it was only handheld PDAs, thensmartphones and tablets, but is now pushing allthe way to the wearable edge with smart-watches and wristbands.This idea of 'iJewellery' is not new – DallasSemiconductor had finger wearable JavaRingcomputers based on its iButton technology in thelate 1990s, and these could download and run ‘applets’ of Java software when briefly touchedinto a reader. In this way, they wouldcommunicate with and complement anapplication running on the device the reader wasattached too (a laptop or desktop PC) andultimately a server in the cloud (or as it wascalled in the 1990s, the network).Whether tethered or wireless, this type of functionality is not really symbiotic, but moreparasitic, in that the wearable device has little orno function on its own – it’s just a peripheral inthe same way a Bluetooth audio headsettypically has no standalone function.Some more recent wearable technologies areperipherals too, but increasingly peripheral tothe cloud, with over the air (OTA) connectionsfor updates and data exchange. These includethose wristbands increasingly worn by trendytypes, and politicians, to measure their fitness(for health, not yet, for office). These are relianton services in the network for the majority of storage and processing capability and also mostlikely reliant on other devices for taking a view of what information and insights have beengathered.The evolution (note, not revolution) of themachine-to-machine (M2M) or badly termed'internet of things' sector, links very closely withportable and wearable wireless devices. In allcases it is the gathering of data via some form of sensor that adds value and context to thepersonal or business process - location,proximity, energy usage, ambient conditions,user environment. These are especiallyimportant to the individual user if they makeoperation simpler, streamlining a process, suchas automatically capturing data that might beneeded later, or presenting information in a formthat is most relevant at that moment.Connecting this 'personal cloud' of data anddevices into the larger cloud of available servicesis where things get interesting from a businessprocess perspective but it introduces anotheroverhyped expression de jour, 'big data'. Howbig is often not nearly as important as how fast,how complete, how relevant and how directlyusable. These are the areas that directly impacton business processes, yes causing some 're-engineering' and change, but perhaps this timefor the better. This is real work where mobileand wireless technology can deliver efficiency.The current crop of operating systems onsmartphones and tablets have already given upthe need to be synchronised to a desktop whichtethered their earlier cousins. This was thebeginning of the end for the desktop (or laptop)as the most important computing device thateveryone would aspire to. 'Real work' is alreadybeing done with mobile devices; sure it mightnot be lots of typing, but apart from certaintypes of roles (analysts included of course!), whoreally wants the typing of long documents to betheir main contribution to their work? Doorganisations not constantly say they want tominimise bureaucracy, or get rid of red tape andpaperwork?