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What Did I Learn?

I’m writing this blog entry in Sydney Airport as I return from a computer conference. At the conference we spent a lot of time discussing integrating Apple products into corporate environments, and there was a fair bit of general musing regarding the way IT support is changing, and I thought why not discuss some of that here. So, what did I learn?

First there is the great news about how Apple products are now being welcomed into the corporate world where in the past they would have been completely rejected.

Of course, this was an Apple conference so I would expect the spin to be positive towards Apple, but this is not the first time I have heard this sort of thing, so maybe it really does have some merit. And my experience working in an increasingly corporate university – although one which has always been more Apple-centric than most – is that iPads and iPhones have lead the way for Macs to start a small but significant invasion into areas they were previously unwelcome.

An unexpected question about this trend is: do I really like it? In the past Apple has always been the underdog, the maverick, the winner against all odds, and I sort of liked that. It was nice to succeed with Apple products despite the objections and lack of support from more the conservative IT staff. Now it’s no big deal any more. Maybe it’s just too easy? Actually, I don’t really mean that because, despite the fact that there are probably more Apple products than any other, in many organisations corporate infrastructures still tend to be Windows PC focussed.

So the second trend I saw come up in almost every presentation is that the days of central control and very inflexible rules are over… or should be. The user is now the key focus and if central IT management don’t like that then they should get used to it or get another job.

I do have to say that this has been my attitude “forever”. I have always been client focussed and have found ways to circumvent the rules when necessary. So if this trend is real then maybe my life will be easier in this way too. Honestly though, all the fun will be gone!

I’ve got to say here that I’m not against rules per se, but I prefer to see rules more as strong guidelines which should be used as a good starting position rather than commandments carved in stone. There should be enough flexibility within them to allow for optimum outcomes even when rules aren’t strictly followed.

The third trend is possibly too obvious to even present here, but I will anyway. It’s that conventional computers, especially desktop machines, are on the way out and the majority of users are moving to mobile platforms: laptops, tablets, and smart phones.

Being a mega-Apple geek I took all three devices: my MacBook Pro 15″ laptop, my iPar Air, and my iPhone 5 to Australia with me. While they all do “the same thing” to some extent I did find myself using all three for almost equal amounts of time, so if I needed to leave one behind it would be really hard to decide which one!

While I was away I did some email, a bit of gaming, wrote one blog entry, and stored travel and conference documents on the iPad; I did some email, web browsing, wrote another blog entry, and did some programming on the laptop; and did a whole pile of communications (iMessage mainly), looked up information on the web, and did navigation (mainly using the Tom Tom GPS) on the iPhone.

Now that I consider the matter, I probably could have used just the iPad for everything, if I was prepared to put up with a few inconveniences, and that is the point. Most people are much “lighter” users than me, especially when they are away from home, so an iPad would probably be quite satisfactory for them, especially when considering its light weight and excellent battery life.

So those are the non-technical tidbits I picked up, and based on that here’s what I predict in the near future: lot’s of Apple iPhones, iPads, and maybe iWatches will be run in corporations with minimal unnecessary restrictions. Truly, a golden age awaits us!

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