As microcomputers were creeping on to the market in the 1970s, there were lots of stories about required proposals accompanied by detail ROI information. Of course, by the end of the 1970s, VisiCalc would have been able to calculate and print the ROI schedule. For the rest of the 20th century, decisions to buy a personal computer or a cellular phone became less about ROI and a lot more about getting work done. Moreover, the use of a workplace at home is increasingly replacing rather than just supplementing a business office
History shows that we are always building on what was done before. Sometimes the building means adding a new floor or redoing the landscaping. Other times it is a scrape and build, tearing down what was and starting over. This building evolution is also one of the explanations for why most of you readers have more than one of the following: cars, computers, phone numbers, phones and places to work.
Today you are faced with lots of questions about how technology will impact your portable office, mobile lifestyle and work all the time culture. Unless your cave hibernation is not yet completed, you have already been introduced to and probably use a variety of mobile technologies. Phones, notebooks, Wi-Fi, Hot Spots, 3G, 4G, App Store, Android, ei(everything), i(everything) and g(everything).
The explosion of portable technology has fueled our appetite for the next terrific product that will help us go and stay away from the office without staying away from the work. A few questions:
- • Which phone do you use today?
- • Which phone do you want to use?
- • How long before you will change to the next phone, tablet, netbook, notebook, etc?
- • How many Apps are installed on your device?
- • How many Apps have you installed and discarded?
These questions are provided so you can recognize where you are today. Yesterday’s decisions cannot be changed. However, every day you will have an opportunity to replace, enhance, improve, relieve stress and most of all keep you advancing how technology will or will not support what you will be doing. Know that even those decisions should be reviewed at least annually. Those that consider these decisions daily do not have enough to do.
Smartphones Add Muscle
The first digital calculators arrived in the 1960s. Blackberry was introduced with limited features in 1999. Blackberry upgraded to Smartphone status in 2002. The explosion of devices and resources over the past decade are well documented. The technology cornucopia will never again be empty of smart, smarter and smartest phones along with the even larger supply of good, better and best Apps. We need to recognize that as the revolution has begun, it will subside for a long time.
The number of phones and the number of apps that are in our future can be guessed by everyone. There is no single correct numerical answer – there will be lots of guesses and pundit predictions for what products and services will be created. The key, of course, is what you will be doing and what will best support your needs.
The question at this time is just a very old search for an answer that is reengineered for 2010 - which comes first the better app or the smarter phone?
Some of the products and services on their way will be evolutionary, that is they will start and have new versions or upgrades at least every year. Other stuff will take a little longer. For example Smartphones will be upgraded and enhanced every year; 3D television will take a few years and then slowly evolve and expand. The prices of course will vary based on the frequency of change and the impact of the new device. Keep in mind that these products and resources are most often not required and once acquired can be kept for a long time or a short time. Tax return software will change every year. Audit software will improve with major changes occurring when new regulations surface.
The Smartphone product list will expand. With HP acquiring Palm, Google, Nokia, Motorola and even Microsoft are exploring the best landscape for their distribution. Apple leads everyone with sizzle. However, everyone has taken notice of what is happening and will continue to be close behind or, like any race, the lead will change frequently.
The revolution that is already in process is Touch Screen technologies. Sure the iPhone and Android and the iPad have everyone getting touch savvy. Watch any news channel or ESPN or the nightly weather report and touch screens are in multi-picture display mode. Touch will grow with devices and applications and customer acceptance. Virtual keyboards on the iPhone and iPad are examples of how the hand is not quicker than the eye, but it can deliver reliable results.
Which Comes First
Deciding about the app or the phone
Touch based applications will demand increasing functionality of buttons and touch points all over the screen. Fingers do more than walk, they can move maps, change book pages, select emails for reading, find restaurants by cuisine type and a whole lot more.
In the next two years, the key growth of apps will follow the trends of many mass market demands. Decisions need to be based on how you choose to support your mobile world. To exercise, a bicycle is very good transportation. To take a family of four to a movie usually requires an automobile. What is in your mobile world is an essential component of your decision process.
Movies, television programs, books, webinars, family photos and games will expand. Whether the mobile devices will replace television sets and movie theaters is more than a few years away. However, the capability for everyone to have their own entertainment on their own schedule has already begun. This reality enables people to avoid shared experiences and be alone in a crowded room. On the other side is that people around the globe are able to interact with any one on any activity from games to books to conversation.
Services for the entertainment world are being developed at: movie networks from Universal to Disney; hosting sites like HULU and Fancast; every TV network, and resources from around the planet. This is not YouTube, Twitter or Facebook, this is time shifting when, where and how entertainment in all its formats will be available when you want.
GPS technologies will be embedded in (almost) every device and they will grow beyond just providing a local map or finding the nearby Starbucks, Gas Station, or Hospital. As users and developers get accustomed to location capabilities, Apps will be connected directly with a cloud based database of information, such as client locations, new events both on and off your calendar, weather and traffic alerts all the way to your destination, and any nearby location that matches to something on your task list.
There are many apps today that will help identify car location, people location, and provide security video for your home and office. These will evolve with the capacity to issue proactive push alerts for your review.
Online payments are almost universal with banks and credit card companies delivering any kind of financial transaction with the exception of your own personal ATM. Payments and push notification alerts are common. If you are not using these functions, you should explore how to get started today. Smart devices will replace physical credit cards, coupons, and checks. The plastic and paper industries will take another hit.
Near term development of Apps will expand the delivery of all kinds of alerts pushed to you through email, text message, and as yet to be created methods. Your login will be automatic and authorized in some cyber vault.
Search was always part of our culture from day 1 – for food, for a new place to live, for professional assistance. The term search got a boost with volumes of the encyclopedia, was exploded by Google and is being re-engineered today by many. The evolution continues. Search by voice, search by proximity, search by musical song, search by map location and more are all in use today. The competition is working hard to leap frog each other with new capabilities.
Google vs Microsoft vs Facebook vs Many are all engaged in the Search Wars. Weapons include image based search, topical category alerts, push notification by any combination of keywords, search terms, dates, along with your personal notes, tasks, contacts. Your data, company data, client data will be integrated and accessible.
All of these mobile and wireless capabilities will, unfortunately, be attacked and hacked and subject to loss by theft of forgetfulness. This risk needs to be managed by you and each user. The good news is that there are a bunch of smart folks working on new and better security. The bad news is that there are a bunch of smart folks working on more ways to hack and attack and steal from you. So, if you are interested in any of the above developments and plan to continue to use technology, it is essential that you keep current on both sides of the theft ring. First, always be safe when mobile. Second, keep informed about new ways that the bad guys are trying to steal what you have.
Social on Steroids (SoS)
Networking for the individual and for the enterprise is just at the beginning. Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and their competitors are being used by individuals, local restaurants, national franchises, companies, politicians, CPA firms and a never ending supply of every for profit and not for profit. That includes the planet and will soon head off into the galactic unknown.
Figuring out how to be sociable can be accomplished by CPAs.
The Apps evolution will not stop. Discovering the App you did not know was needed will be found. Pricing of the Apps will bounce between free and pay. Prices will be less of a barrier than they had been for previous technologies. Registration – giving up your name and contact information will be required for some and a good idea for all. The frequency of App updates will vary but will never be more than one year. Registration will enable updates and fixes.
In the next article, I will drill down into specific Apps within each category to help you identify the Apps and how they could be used by you and your clients. Of course, sending comments for what information will be most helpful for you will help guide me to deliver useful and valuable information to you.