There’s a lot of new technology coming out right now – geared at building fourth-quarter sales and capitalizing on (for business) the end-of-year “smart buying” spree and (for consumers) the holiday shopping season.
Here’s a look at two recent technology developments and what they may mean to your business.
Microsoft releases Windows 8 with its “Metro” live tile interface
Is this an exciting new development? Apparently not. According to the research firm NPD, in the first four weeks of Windows 8, PC sales dropped 21 percent over the same period last year. Laptop sales were off even more – 24 percent.
Why? Speculation abounds about Microsoft and where it is going. But from a business perspective, I am leery of an OS where the first descriptive terms in marketing materials are “Vibrant and Beautiful.” The Metro interface with live tiles updating with social media, email and other live “connections” is appealing to a consumer market, but less so for business.
Three things to consider before upgrading to Windows 8 for your business:
• The learning curve for staff. Most businesses have spent a lot of time, money and effort getting their gumbies and grumpies to adapt to new systems. Windows 8 is a major departure from anything familiar. Consider how you’re going to adapt your staff before you plop it down on the desk.
• Getting the bugs out. If you are a small business without an IT team, you may also want to steer clear of buying something new and cool that has just been released. “New” and “cool” often come hand-in-hand with their friends “buggy” and “unstable.” If you have limited IT support in-house, you might want to wait a release or two.
• Playing well with others. If your business uses any special software – outside the major suites like Adobe’s Creative Suite or MS Office – make sure it will run on a new operating system. Rolling back to a previous OS when you learn some critical piece of software doesn’t work on the new one is a ton of work – lost time, productivity and revenue.
Apple vs. the world
We are often divided by psychographic preferences and allegiances: Are you a Republican or Democrat? A smoker or non-smoker? A pink-packet person or any other flavor of artificial sweetener? And, of course, Apple products or anything else.
New data released last week shows that for the August-October 2012 period, Apple’s operating system regained its lead over Google’s Android as most popular in the U.S. iPhones held 48 percent of the market share over Android’s 46.7 percent. Researchers Kantar Worldpanel ComTech project Apple will beat its previous record-high share over the rest of the year and through the critical holiday sales period.
If you are considering adding smartphones to your team or bringing in some tablets, should this Apple vs. Android sales race play into your decision? No way.
There are three things you should be looking at, though:
• Apps. Which platform has the apps you need to put in the hands of your staff? If there are tools you use in the office, look to see which ones have mobile app versions and which functions they offer.
• Management capabilities. When you give your employees a smartphone or tablet, you have to accept the fact that they will send some personal emails or take calls from their spouses every now and then. But you may not want them downloading Instagram, Angry Birds or Spotify. Several third-party vendors have mobile management suites for devices that let you control the software that is installed, implement a standard software set and deploy it quickly to each new device, and institute policies that limit downloads and browsing – similar to controls you currently have on your desktops. If you want to learn more about mobile device management, there’s a good informational webinar here: http://goo.gl/SrAXO. (Fair warning: This is from a company that sells a device management suite, but the general information is still well presented).
• Interoperability. Basically, the ability of your mobile devices to communicate and integrate with your other systems. Company contacts, CRM, shared calendars, cloud servers or local data via secure connections. Which mobile devices have the best apps and OS to make those connections easy and seamless for users on the go?
The Gartner Group conducted a survey in April that showed 58 percent of all enterprises were planning to make Apple their primary mobile platform in 2013. Twenty percent were planning to standardize on BlackBerry and only 9 percent were choosing Android. The reason? Weaker management support. That may change over time, but for now, it’s an issue to consider. Read the report: http://goo.gl/z6HdH.
Laura Haight is the president of Portfolio (portfoliosc.com ), a communications company based in Greenville that leverages the power of technology and digital media to communicate effectively with clients, customers and your staff. She is a former IT executive, journalist and newspaper editor.