The Post-PC era dawns

For years I spent many hours tinkering in a desktop PC ‘box’ – you know,  the kind with slots for memory, exchangeable hard drives and video cards or a new CPU that you swap out. Desktops are all but dead today. Laptops became the new desktop.  And now the post-PC era has crept in. It took 21 years for PCs to go mainstream. Media tablets are expected to achieve the same in just four short years.  The post-PC era is about no longer being anchored to a handful of solutions in the PC paradigm.  Post-PC devices are driving enterprises to rethink their entire IT architecture.

This is the end of the web 2.0 era where we all consumed services through a browser on a computer. Replacing that era is a new, app-based, message-centric mobile Internet.

For the first time in decades, CIOs have the opportunity – and necessity – to completely re-imagine and rebuild their technology strategy from the ground up. Catalyzing this change is the fact that the technology switching costs are often less than the price of maintaining existing solutions.

As the “post-PC” movement grows, it looks to get away from a traditional desktop PC-centric model to promote a platform that is more virtual, visual, mobile and social.  Working from anywhere and everywhere (where Internet is available) is just becoming a standard requirement, especially as tablets and smartphones become more common in the workplace.  When individual workers look to the App Store for an immediate solution to their problem instead of calling IT (who in turn calls a vendor) you can tell things will never be the same.

Companies like CloudOn and Onlive aim to virtualize applications that we never imagined would be available outside the office walls.   Entire industries are already being transformed: mobile healthcare apps will enable cutting-edge health outcomes, and construction sites will eventually be transformed by apps like PlanGrid.

The enterprise software shift mirrors that of the media and cable companies fighting for relevance in a world moving to digital content.

Fragmentation of devices and platforms define the post-PC era. Android, iOS, and Windows 7 and 8 all have different languages and frameworks, UI patterns, and marketplaces. The fate of mobile HTML5 is still up in the air. Fragmentation and sprawl of apps and data is now the norm.  In shifting from one technology generation to the next, we minimize disruption by porting the old way of doing things to newer mediums or channels.  The cloud is killing the resume (thank god) and, for the most part, it’s going unnoticed.  As a web-era company, being heavily invested in a web-centric content and application ecosystem is becoming a liability. Facebook is challenged by this shift – hence Instagram; Google is also challenged by it. Yahoo has effectively been killed by it.

In this new era the essential unit of advertising a page based ad, whether text, display or anything else is simply the wrong monetization vehicle. Consider the recent earnings call from Google. Google, for the second consecutive quarter, suffered a decline in “Cost Per Click” rates that is in large part attributable to the shift in traffic from the desktop/laptop to the mobile platform.  Horizontal keyword search is losing ground to vertical-specific apps like Yelp and Hipmunk and a stream of recommendations from Foursquare, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. Along its frontiers, touch- and voice-driven interfaces write most of the laws. This landscape is unfriendly to traditional tactics like SEM and SEO.

The PC/client server marked a fundamental shift, and the Cloud now promises another set of fundamental shifts in architecture, usage patterns, and IT approach

Post PC humans are young and antsy!

And post-PC consumers are not patient (i.e. think young demo). When we want to engage with your business, we expect you to respond in an instant, on the communications channels we prefer to use. Responding to our emails in a few hours or days ain’t gonna cut it: depending on our demographics, we are either overloaded with email or hardly use email at all.  However, we do consume almost every text message (SMS) that we receive. When we’re in info-gathering, entertainment or transaction mode, we tap on links that seem enticing and follow push notifications into our favorite mobile apps. And if your business offers a frictionless way to contact you, many of us will even call.

The “new era footprint” is Cloud-centric, where one platform exists for every app and homogeneous management that allows for on-demand, as well as the ability to scale up and scale out. This allows for architecture like VMware to provide ubiquitous service delivery as Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS). Through IaaS, businesses are able to service catalogue and self service, policy-based automation and provisioning, and software defined storage, network, and security.

After this the next logical step is wearable and implantable devices. I do see microscopic chip implants probable as well (primarily aimed at self timed and bodily attached drug infusions – think diabetes and insulin at first since it would reach a wide swatch of the population) and other health related ailments at first.  Your daily to do list would be quite convenient implanted and selectively visual through a ‘google glasses type’ display. All of this accessible from your body transmitted to your regular glasses or eye lenses on demand.

But there is no mistaking it – the era of the PC is over. Mobile networked wireless computing where all my ‘stuff’ is saved in the cloud is now the norm.