When Did Personal Computers Get So Personal?

I am sick. I understand the major laptop manufacturers have decided that no one wants the button mouse in the middle of the keyboard any longer. Well they are wrong; I want it. That touch pad thing drives me crazy because my fly-away thumb is always tapping me into la-la-land when I touch-type. Using a mouse means carrying an extra gizmo that runs out of batteries at the worst possible times. The button mouse works for me, and now it’s gone.

I’m not the only one with complaints. Our COO, who, by the way, is very organized, doesn’t want to have to keep track of a special dongle that connects his laptop to a projector. It’s just more thing to misplace or go wrong. Our CEO wants a big screen and a keyboard—no tablets please—but it has have long battery life because it’s going to log 100,000 miles this year on airplanes.

No doubt about it. Gone are the days when the organization could choose a standard end user device or even two and expect the employees to go along. These days, that would be like having your organization mandate your briefcase, your backpack, or your purse. It’s simply not going to work.

Of course this all happened because we stretched our work computers and cell phones into personal uses. Then we bought some of our own devices. Then we brought those to work and blurred all the lines. If you think about it, we did exactly what our organizations wanted us to do… we adopted the technology wholeheartedly. On steroids. Beyond what they ever imagined.

Well, there’s no turning back now. Now, when it comes to computing devices—and I’m including smartphones here—it’s personal. Our organizations now have to find a way to give each one of us the specific tools that fit the way we work. They are going to have to allow us to choose. And there will be hell to pay if they don’t.

In the end, the device manufacturers are going to bear the brunt of this problem. To make their customers (aka IT departments) happy, companies such as HP, Apple, and Intel are going to have to provide a near-infinite variety of shapes, sizes, and features on the outside, with check-box standards on the inside. For instance, phones that look like iPhones to their users will have to be configurable to look like, say, Windows phones to the IT department that has to support them. Yes, Apple to the individual and Microsoft to the organization. The usability characteristics to which individuals (religiously) affiliate will have to be re-architected to form a kind of skin. You or I could slap our Apple interactivity over the device guts our IT department can secure and support.

As I think about this, it sounds expensively complicated. Our amazing engineers could certainly do it. But maybe some brilliant team will come up with a breakthrough that starts the whole game over again from scratch. I can’t wait to see what happens next. In the meantime, IT, please keep your standard-setting hands off my briefcase, my phone and my computer.

By | 2017-09-19T13:37:27+00:00 December 21st, 2014|Big Data, Mobility|0 Comments