Monthly Archives: January 2012

Corporate tablet adoption growing, naysayers ignore tablets at their peril

2011 was the year of the tablet. Surprisingly, it was also the year of the business tablet.

At the outset of the year, the tablet hype was still focused almost entirely on the consumer. The iPad’s smartphone-like fun and form factors made it pretty easy to ignore potential business applications for the device. Like many, I initially purchased an iPad to satisfy a gadget addiction, only to find it incredibly useful for applications other than Angry Birds and Netflix.

In hindsight, the rise of the corporate tablet wasn’t surprising. Just watch a 1-on-1 customer presentation become a customer conversation and you’ll understand its power. Many of us didn’t realize we had laptop problems that needed solving.

What’s interesting, however, is that many execs still aren’t taking notice. They continue to ask why tablets matter for the enterprise?

Over 40% of tablets were already being used for business applications in mid-2011, according to a survey conducted by FunnelBoard.  That’s a large slice of a rapidly expanding pie.

Gartner forecasted worldwide tablet sales of 63.6 million units for the past year – a 261.4% increase from 17.6 million units in 2010.  Tablet sales are expected to reach 326.3 million units by the end of 2015.  Furthermore, the combined sales of smartphones and tablets will exceed PC sales by 44% in 2011, with the installed base of mobile computing devices surpassing total installed base of all PC systems in 2014.

Here are the 5 biggest reasons why tablets matter:

  1. Productivity. Tablets drive productivity, as demonstrated by the 28% efficiency increase in field service efficacy (see Venture Beat).
  2. Accessibility. Tablets make intelligence, reports, knowledge sharing and collaboration tools universally accessible.  Applications that suffered by being chained to laptops, became truly useful when the lug-around-open-boot-load-wait-use paradigm shattered.
  3. Mobility. 75% of workers have some mobility associated with their jobs. They need information that travels with them (see Venture Beat).
  4. Adoption trends. Over 70% percent of corporate sales forces will be using tablets by the end of 2012, according to a FunnelBoard survey. There is a reason for this – they help close deals.
  5. Consumerization of enterprise technology. Tablet adoption is already at 11% of consumers in the United States and growing quickly. Following the general trend towards the consumerization of enterprise technology, expect your employees to demand them in the near future. If your employees are knowledge workers or in technology-related businesses, they’re probably making noise already (see Online Marketing).

At the office, tablets are being used to access data, collaborate and automate processes. But this technology is not just for office workers (remember when Blackberrys were just for executives?). Tablets are showing up in front-line applications like retail sales, equipment maintenance, meter reading, proof of service, inventory management and telematics. Just this week, I met with a company developing a promising solution that would put tablets in the hands of automotive mechanics on a massive scale.

In a recent report, the Gartner group identified the following as the top 10 business applications for tablets for 2011:

  1. Sales automation system, sales presentations, and ordering systems
  2. Business intelligence: analytical and performance applications
  3. Collaboration applications for meetings
  4. File utilities for sharing
  5. Document distribution
  6. General corporate/government enterprise applications
  7. Medical support system
  8. Hosted virtual desktop agents
  9. Social networking applications with intelligent business insight
  10. Board books

How do you see tablets being used in 2012? Are you considering a tablet roll-out for your business? While tablets won’t make sense for everyone, understanding the impact of tablet  is a must for every executive.

Let me know what you think.

 

Sources and further reading:
http://www.androidauthority.com/tablets-potential-corporate-use-sales-326-million-2016-33928/
http://blog.onlinemarketingconnect.com/hubspot/2011/10/30-new-tablet-usage-stats-marketers-should-know-infographic/
http://venturebeat.com/2011/10/21/how-the-enterprise-is-adopting-tablets-infographic/
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9 steps to increased productivity (#1 is stop reading about productivity)

Enough with productivity already. We often spend more time reading, thinking and talking about productivity than executing on basic concepts that really work. Juggling careers, hobbies, exercise, friends and family has a tendency to stand in the way of implementing process improvements…you don’t want to drop the balls, right? After reading this blog post, however, it’s time to quit cold turkey. In fact, you should probably stop reading right now and start executing!

There is a productivity industry because looking for the solution is a natural human inclination. Who wants to take tiny steps towards achieving a goal when a BIG change will deliver a BIG impact and BIG success? Unfortunately, big changes rarely work.  What’s more, investing significant time, energy and willpower in a big solution that doesn’t work, can make the original problem even worse.

This is true for any kind of big change. The vast majority of corporate change management efforts fail. 99% of diets don’t work; in fact, they make people fatter (think Atkins). 75% of New Year’s resolutions don’t survive a single week! Efforts to improve your productivity are no different. Big solutions generally result in big failures.

If you are looking to become productive in 2012, take an evolutionary approach.  Try this continuous improvement recipe to experiment your way to productivity:

  1. Stop reading about productivity!
  2. Think effectiveness instead of productivity.  Doing more of the same old thing won’t make a difference. You need to do better at fewer things.
  3. Make a list of small improvements. Implementation time should be less than a ½ day.
  4. Put the improvement steps in order of priority and post the list on your wall.
  5. Implement only one of the small improvements.
  6. Reality check. Did you deliver on your half of the bargain, REALLY implementing the change?  If not, move back one step.
  7. Evaluate the change after using it for 2 weeks.
  8. If it worked, great! Time to move onto step 1 with another change from your list.
  9. Not effective? No problem. Discard the change, pick another change from your list and try again.

You will be shedding the productivity equivalent of 60 pounds in 6 months, but much like lifestyle changes vs. diets, the changes will actually work.

Over the last 12 months, I significantly improved my effectiveness using this recipe. Collectively, small changes made a huge positive impact on my life, my family and my work. Most of the gains came from doing less. Here are just four small examples of changes that worked for me:

  1. Reduce information gathering channels: Applications like FlipBoard and Zite for the iPad gather information that is relevant to you and present it in an intuitive tablet magazine format. No iPad, no problem. Aggregating websites like Mashable.com may be the solution for you. The goal here is simple: find information aggregators that help you professionally and let them do the work of finding useful content. Don’t go to more than 5 places for your news and when you add a new source, drop another from the list.
  2. Maintain social presence on LinkedIn, with zero additional effort. Maintaining a social presence on LinkedIn will soon be table stakes for business professionals. It already is for most salespeople. The challenge is to maintain that presence when your to-do list is already endless. However, posting updates that add value doesn’t have to be more work. When you use online information channels, it is very easy to share information that added value to you. Just click and post. Chances are that information that is useful to you will also be useful to many of your connections.
  3. Be more strategic…say “no” a lot. If you ask the best corporate strategy minds to boil down the essence of strategy, this is what they will tell you: deciding what not to do is more important than deciding what to do. In other words, say “no” a lot. Walking away from opportunities is VERY hard for both individuals and businesses (this is something I hate to do). Who wants to close doors, right? Having clear priorities, discipline about what to do and not to do, and focus will free up your time and significantly increase your productivity. It will also increase your credibility, because when you put to many balls in the air, some will get dropped.
  4. Take a break. Go out for lunch. My typical day at the office used to start with a 7 am meeting with my boss and continued for 12 task juggling, meeting hopping and deck jockeying hours. Often, I am ashamed to admit, I confused activity with productivity. Now I take breaks and regularly eat lunch with business partners and friends.  The result is this: increased focus, increased alertness, fewer mistakes and more energy for my two biggest passions, my family and new ventures. Apparently, research supports my anecdotal experience. Check out the Harvard Business Review blog on the subject at http://goo.gl/RfYts.

Once you have taken this advice and experimented/executed your way to increased productivity, you may be ready to violate step 1 by reading about productivity again. One excellent book on the subject is Getting Things Done by David Allen.

Ineptitude in the age of information overload

Why is it that we so often fail to achieve what we set out to accomplish in this world? Many bloggers and authors have written on the subject of failure. To err is human, mistakes are natural, failing is an important part of learning, etc., etc., etc. I agree that designing, creating and learning are not clean processes. Physicist Niels Bohr, the father of atomic theory, put it well:

An expert is a person who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a very narrow field.

But clearly some failures are “bad” or unnecessary. The worst of this lot are failures of ineptitude. Ineptitude arises when knowledge exists, yet we fail to apply it. Example: surgeons operating on the wrong side of a patient’s brain…for the 3rd time (sadly a true story from Rhode Island Hospital – http://goo.gl/64lzl).

What does this mean when we have access to more information than ever before? In many cases, what used to be excusable ignorance is now sheer incompetence. It also means that those who aren’t using this resource are at risk of becoming inept.

For example, checklists and processes exist that can effectively eliminate medical mistakes like operating on the wrong brain lobe. Given that the supporting research, resources and processes can be found on Google with little effort, there is no excuse for the ignorance of the Rhode Islanders. They are the poster-children of ineptitude.

While consequences of failure in business are incomparable to those in medicine, we are often equally guilty of ineptitude. Many businesses simply aren’t taking advantage of the massive store of knowledge available through the web today. The results are missed opportunities and unnecessary failures.

For example, a 2009 study by Hoovers found that 75% of businesses weren’t using social media for competitive intelligence. My experience suggests improvement has been marginal outside of Silicon Valley since this study was conducted (RIM is just one company that comes to mind here). In an increasingly competitive global marketplace, up-to-date competitive intelligence makes the difference between leading and chasing the competition.

Glenn Gow did a good job of summarizing just one of the benefits of social media intelligence (http://goo.gl/f2iLz):

By obtaining a real-time window into issues and problems facing your competitors, you have the opportunity to proactively respond with timely messaging or programs targeting the customers or products affected and capitalizing on the specific problem. If a competitor is having supply or quality problems, offer a targeted upgrade program. To quote Ray Kroc, “If I saw a competitor drowning I’d put a live fire hose in his mouth.” While launch messaging often takes weeks or months to tune and perfect, the social media grapevine enables you to leverage a changing environment, especially competitive missteps, to your competitive advantage.

If businesses don’t react to opportunities in real-time, you can be sure that their nimbler competitors will. The ability to rapidly detect and react to the unexpected offers a significant opportunity leapfrog the competition.

Qworky is one software company that realized that opportunity. By monitoring their primary competitor’s online moves (blog posts, e-mail blasts, Twitter messages and LinkedIn profile changes) they suspected that a product launch was imminent. This gave them the opportunity to quickly launch a limited version of their product, getting the Qworky name out in the market before the competition (http://goo.gl/5nu2K).

In the 5 minutes it took to read this blog, the store of knowledge and information available through the web grew significantly. In this time:

  • 1,273 Wikipedia pages were edited
  • 175 hours of new videos were uploaded
  • 170 new web pages were created
  • 5,000 professionals joined LinkedIn
  • 191 new blogs were created

What’s more, the number of new content channels increases every day. So how do we keep up with this vast store of knowledge? In many cases, it is impossible to remain current and still have time to get things done. Few of us can afford to spend the entire day on the web. According to a recent SAS survey, more than 50% of executives at mid-sized companies feel they’re drowning in data. At the same time, executives viewed data as the most underused resource in their companies.

Over the coming weeks, I will be exploring ways to reduce information overload and effectively use the information available via social media and the web. Hopefully, I can avoid joining the ranks of the inept.

Please let me know if you have any solutions or ideas that can help!

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