Archive | April 2012

Don’t leave them to their own devices

I wonder how many of you saw Apple’s remarkable results last week? If you didn’t, they nearly doubled their quarterly profits and amongst all of the other superlatives in the commentary they added over $40 billion to their market cap! In fact the iPad maker has the biggest weighting of any company in the S&P 500, accounting for 4.5pc of the overall index – it has been quite a while since
so much tech sentiment revolves around just one stock.

One of the other data points I picked up on was that they have now sold over 60 million iPads worldwide since their inception in 2010 and has hence created a category all of their own. Whether it be their financial might or technology innovation – you certainly can’t ignore them.

Apart from the fantastic opportunity this presents business in changing they way they can enable and support their workforce, it has created a lot of headaches too!

To this end, we’ve been busy working with Apple to ensure we have developed our portfolio in line with their with technology to help our clients and provide the type of service that most Enterprise workers have become accustomed to. We’ve even put a little ‘chalk n talk’ video together to outline what we have done. You can check it out here. I hope you like it?

Xpect Delays!

Today we held a briefing with Gartner on the current state of the Windows 7 migration market. It’s apparent from our discussions, that as a result of our involvement with the product (effectively from its inception) we have managed to turn our early experiences into a proposition that targets all of the challenges associated with the full lifecycle of a project with successful references across a broad span of  industry segments.

A lot of our discussion focussed around the time needed to fully address the scope of such a migration exercise in Enterprise customers. Gartner’s view was that customers should have started planning 2 years ago!, however we see the reality that many customers are only just starting to address the problem of XP going end of life on 8th April 2014. Whilst this may seem quite a long way away, it is in fact only just over 700 days away and less than 500 working days (498 to be precise at the time of writing) – not very long for what can be a technical and logistically challenging project on an Enterprise scale.

If you’re interested on keeping an eye on the timeline, we’ve built a countdown timer that you can find here.

The good news is that we have be building capacity in line with our client’s current demand, but we do agree with Gartner that many organisations are leaving it late to address the problem, (particularly if they want to exploit the new functionality that such a platform change can provide  i.e. virtualisation, enhanced automation, application rationalisation, support improvements etc.). With only a finite amount of time and resource to meet an immovable date, we were speculating on whether we’re approaching a ‘Y2K’ like bow wave of demand when organisations scramble to react and we see demand outstretch supply.

Are you well on the way to addressing the challenge or can you XPect delays?

Generation Z research

As I’m writing this blog, our Press Department is swinging in to action to publicise some very intriguing results that have arisen from an independent survey we recently commissioned.

We have investigated one of the hottest topics in the news the ‘consumerisation of IT’ and BYOD, which confirms there has been a significant shift in IT thinking which is mainly end user led and driven by the sophistication and proliferation of consumer devices in the workplace

However, the research has thrown up an anomaly that suggests IT departments have potentially misjudged the attitudes of young workers towards new workplace technology trends and their demands for consumer devices at work.

Interestingly more than half of 16-24yr olds in the workplace – dubbed ‘Generation Z’ – state they don’t want an iPhone or tablet device in the office, and that they believe that it is more important for companies to stay in control of data than to embrace consumerisation.

Even more surprisingly given the growth of social media apps, 85 % of Generation Z employees surveyed actually prefer to communicate with their work colleagues face-to-face, with only 17 per cent voting for using instant messaging or social media networks.

Generation Z just want to be given the right tools to do the job; although they have grown up with instant messaging and high-tech gadgets, they don’t necessarily want to bring them to work.

IT departments need to avoid getting caught up in the hype surrounding consumerisation – it is just one of many enablers for today’s contemporary workplace, but organisations do need to address the growing flexible working requirements and the  heightened performance expectations of the technology demanded by members of staff – young and old.

Experience shows that when corporate IT systems prevent workers from delivering their best – that is when they can start to take matters into their own hands. Connecting people (to people) and information, simply and efficiently, remains the core objective.

Having cast doubt on the current widespread assumption that Generation Z, who have grown up with smartphones and social networks, are driving the ‘device rebellion’ in Enterprises, you might want to read the full report… it makes for an interesting read.

Opening the Treasure Trove

I started writing this blog while on a train travelling into London.  At Didcot Parkway it was interesting and somewhat nostalgic to see a bunch of people train spotting.  The ensemble was made up of two boys and four adults armed with a variety of books, cameras, tripods and binoculars.  I remember fondly a train spotting phase in my youth but in those days we didn’t have the multiple distractions of video games, social media and 100+ TV channels that exist today.  I can’t explain why but it made me feel good and perhaps just a tad envious to witness this very traditional hobby still being pursued.

Last week I hosted a dinner for the ‘class of 2012’ graduate sales trainees or Sales Associates in CC speak.  This is always an event I really look forward to as it’s fantastic to spend some quality time with young, enthusiastic and clearly bright individuals.  But perhaps the best aspect is their relative naivety in terms of business and IT in general that results in often simple but incredibly compelling observations about our business.  This lack of restraint in highlighting ideas is something that I believe all companies should aspire to.  The people that know the business best are the people that are delivering for the company day in day out so encouraging them to participate in process and service improvement is a treasure trove waiting to be explored.

Some organisations use surveys, some idea boxes, some focus groups and I’m sure some use all of the above and more.  What works for one company certainly won’t work for all and much will come down to the culture and management input that supports (or doesn’t) this employee involvement.  This latter point is critical.  If an employee believes his or her views will be heard rather than dismissed out of hand or worse ignored, they’ll be more likely to suggest additional ideas, spread the word and feel greater affinity towards the organisation.  This is the mother lode of all treasure troves!

Lots of treasure resulted from my dinner with SA 12 and as usual, I learned more than I could have hoped for.  What I didn’t enjoy learning was that none of them had ever bought a vinyl LP and no one knew what an XR3i was (my first CC company car)!  Oh well, will have to dust off that old ABC book and join the crew at Didcot for a spot of train spotting, sure the older guys will recognise an XR3i when they see one…

Wake up Call?

So, just as I’m wrapping up for the Easter break there are reports circulating in the news of 500,000 Apple Macs being infected by a virus (Trojan). At the time of writing, this hasn’t been corroborated by Apple themselves but the early synopsis by a Russian security vendor is that this might be via Java on the platform rather than the Operating System itself.

Nether less, I have found a number of my Apple fanatical friends and associates to be insufferably smug about the fact that they don’t pay for or use Anti-Virus software…. but for how much longer I wonder? With all of Apple’s success recently, are we seeing the focus of the attack vector move from Microsoft to Apple?

‘Rude awakening’ or ‘flash in the pan’? I’m sure Security vendor’s marketing departments will be busy this weekend!

Lenovo, on a mission…

Lenovo has had a great run of late and firmly cemented itself into the top echelon of global PC vendors.  The success of the business is built on the significant share of its home market China where it has just reported a record 35% market share for its fiscal 3rd quarter.  In China, Lenovo is as much a household name as Apple and that level of brand awareness has helped the company succeed in the burgeoning consumer market as well as enterprise.  However, this isn’t the case in much of the rest of the world where Lenovo is still largely confined to corporate customers, its heritage from the acquired IBM PC business.

One of my predictions for this year was that Lenovo would draw level with or even usurp HP to become the #1 global PC brand.  However, this will very much depend on whether they are able to replicate China’s strength in the consumer segment in Europe and the America’s.  An interesting statement of intent was the recent appointment of Gianfranco Lanci to run the European business.  Lanci is a 14 year veteran of Acer and therefore has a close affiliation with the consumer marketplace and the differing retail channels.

So should we be worried?  Whether Lenovo do become #1 or not is largely academic and although this is understandably important to the vendors themselves, it will remain a major force in the PC industry as will HP and Dell.  What would be concerning is if Lenovo took their metaphorical eye off the ball in the corporate market in their quest to gain momentum within consumer.  Given their recent management restructure that included many new appointments, I think it’s highly unlikely but will be keeping a close interest nonetheless.

The Contemporary Workplace – So What?

Hello and welcome to my blog. It’s the first time I’ve written a public blog and whilst I’m active on plenty of other social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn I must admit to being slightly apprehensive as to whether this form of communication will turn into an interactive dialogue. I guess you’ll be the judge of that!

As for the role, I am the Business Line Director for our Workplace & Software solutions across Computacenter’s (CC) client base. My primary responsibilities include the strategy, sales, marketing, vendor alignment and implementation of Computacenter’s portfolio of workplace and software based solutions and services. My team work with corporate and government clients to provide advice and guidance across the entire infrastructure including the delivery of solutions to source, transform, optimise and manage their workplace and software technology

Talking of the team, I was really pleased to see their efforts rewarded last week when we scooped four wins at the Adobe Channel Awards. Of the fifteen award categories, they were recognised for their hard work during 2011 with four wins, including Reseller Partner of the Year and Channel Partner of the Year for Acrobat, Creative Suite and Hobbyist Products.

Now I did get a bit of “so what” feedback with comments like “It’s only document viewing software”, but have you stopped to think just how pervasive products like Adobe have become in today’s world? It’s hard to find a corporate web-site that doesn’t provide product information, investor information, manuals, brochures (the list goes on…) all presented in the ubiquitous PDF format. I even submitted my Tax Return in PDF format this year!

These tools are also empowering creative teams, designers and content providers to develop rich interactive apps with creative and engaging content that spans the rapid proliferation of mobile devices and associated browsers. This is why we think we will we continue to see momentum grow for products such as Adobe in the future as they have become an indispensable part of our contemporary workplace today.

I wonder how long it will be before you open your next PDF? My bet is that it’ll be sooner than you think!

Blackberry & Apple, a fruity tale…

Welcome to this first edition of ‘Public’ Rod Blog, something I hope will become a small but welcome aside in your busy life.  My role in Computacenter (from now on referred to as CC) sees me responsible for the end to end supply chain from customer quotation, order, procurement and delivery.  These blogs however will focus mainly on a mix of what our vendor partners are doing or about to do, my take on whatever it is plus unbiased views on what is happening in the IT market as a whole.  I’ve been writing an internal version of the Blog for some time now hence the ‘Public’ label above.  They’ve stimulated some response and debate and that in itself has made them worthwhile.  I hope this new version will do the same but time will tell.  Most importantly, I won’t be trying to sell you anything, that’s the job of the experts and we know how sensitive they can be!

I’ll start at the beginning and where better than Apple?  I don’t need to repeat the superlatives that accompany their continued financial success but can even they have foreseen the runaway success of the last few years?  And when they announce a new iPad (and what was wrong with calling it the iPad 3?), the fact much of the world can’t use the 4G component doesn’t seem to matter?  Instead, “I’ll have three please” is more likely to be heard than a complaint!  Compare this to the once mighty Blackberry.  Just last week we read reports that parent company RIM had announced its intention to withdraw from the consumer market to focus on corporate customers.  I’ve since seen follow up articles that retract these comments saying they were “misconstrued”.  Whatever the reality, too little too late?  You bet.  For me it’s inevitable they’ll be acquired and why look anywhere else than HP, their own saga with Palm has left them bereft of a Smartphone and this, if we are to believe the analysts, is the largest segment of the market by volume.

As always, interesting times ahead.

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