Archive | January 2015

2015 – A landmark year for Microsoft and Windows

Windows 10 will be launched, we presume, at some point later this year. What you may not know is that the Windows Operating System is 30 years old in November 2015, making this a milestone year for Microsoft in a couple of ways.

Before we explore that further I have to ask, “Did anyone really work with this interface? (Windows 1.0 -1985)”:


In our conversations about the Contemporary Workplace we often talk about how the Operating System should be invisible. In a world with modern workstyles and a plethera of devices to choose from, we focus on delivering Content and Applications across a range of different platforms to cater for modern user needs. While we relentlessly pursue that experience on behalf of our clients, it’s clear that the OS is far from invisible, hence why it attracts so much attention and commentary – both positive and negative.

Microsoft has had enormous success over the past 30 years. There have been challenges along the way, but you cannot counter the longevity and dominance they have shown in our use of technology both as consumers and in business. As is often the case where it has worked well (Windows XP, Windows 7) people struggle to let go of the platform they know and trust. But if occasionally doesn’t work out so well – Windows ME, Vista and Windows 8 too. Clearly you cannot guarantee success and to be accurate all of the time, as these two quotes from the past probably evidence:

“I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.”

Thomas Watson, president of IBM, 1943

“There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.”

Ken Olsen, founder of Digital Equipment Corporation, 1977

Windows 10, when it launches, will deliver a new User Interface, a new Browser (Spartan), Cortana on the desktop… and let’s not forget the return of the Start Menu. There are many other enhancements and features too, and with a technical preview ongoing, most of the feedback and commentary I’ve seen has been positive. The promise of “Universal Apps” I see as very compelling, and confirm the departure from delivering a traditional Desktop OS to delivering a platform to cater for the different devices we use today.

The future lies in using multiple devices and a departure from the traditional desktop/laptop only option – but the core of productivity still remains on these types of devices for the vast majority of users

Will Windows 10 be a success? I’m not psychic, but in this, the 30 year anniversary of Windows, it is a key for Microsoft to put the past behind them and move forwards in line with their new strategy. The first year free upgrade announced at last week’s event is big news – but remember that only applies to consumers!, more details from Microsoft for Business users will follow in due course.

Has the expectations of users of the Operating System changed over time? Invariably with the great success of mobile platforms such as iOS and Android I think expectations have changed. The OS is never invisible despite what many people may say. It provides many core user functions and tools that are useful to users, but fundamentally the OS needs to work to provide higher value functions – namely access to applications and data. The OS “bit” just needs to be reliable, performant and intuitive.

And that is perhaps a key change. As the way the user interacts with the OS has changed over time (from keyboard to mouse and now to touch), and with a more competitive landscape of technology and solutions I think the general expectations, particularly of Microsoft OS’s has increased, but this causes the dichotomy of innovation and change against the integration and adoption needs of a largest and broadest array of users across any platform.

History shows us that those platforms that do the basics well have been successful. Does the same fate await Windows 10? I’d really welcome your comments and predictions…



An update from our 2014 Associates


With the industry asking, ‘Who will be the Service Management of the Future?’ Computacenter responds by leading the way in attracting and developing new Service Managers.

Hi, my name is Dan Nation, Service Management Associate. My first 12 months in the business have flown by and I would like to begin this blog by thanking those across the business who have given their time, expertise and support to the programme, enabling the development of the Associates.

“As well as focusing on what Service Management will need to do, we also need to address who will be the Service Management of the future”

In November 2014, I was fortunate enough to attend the IT Service Management Forum (ITSMF) UK Conference, which was well attended by the Service Management community from across the industry.

The ITSMF proposed its ‘Big4 agenda’ for 2015, which provides the focus for their investment and development within the Service Management community. The second topic on the agenda was ‘Service Management of the future: What do we need to look like?’

As well as focusing on what Service Management will need to do, we also need to address who will be the Service Management of the future. With the population and retirement age increasing, there is ever more pressure on current workforces no matter what industry you work in.

Talent Development

In January 2014, Computacenter started an industry leading Service Management Associate Programme, expanding on its already successful Sales and Line of Business Programmes. Applicants go through a rigorous selection process, and successful participants start an 18-month programme designed to give maximum exposure to the Computacenter business, whilst developing the skills and experiences necessary to manage the contractual services we provide to customers.

Never a company to rest on success, Computacenter has three further programmes designed to attract and train future talent: an Industrial Placement Programme (university placement year), an Apprenticeship Scheme, which Computacenter recently won an ‘Employer of the Year’ award, and Work Experience placements for Secondary School students.

This month, five new Service Management Associates have embarked on their careers with Computacenter. Once again, I would like to thank all those involved with the programme throughout the business and ask for your continued support for the new crop of Associates.

What the industry is saying

In an article written for the ITSMF journal ‘serviceTALK’, Sandra Whittleston writes, ‘very often when attending IT Service Management (ITSM) events and meetings, discussions focus on the newcomers to our industry. Popular questions include, “where is the new blood and where it is likely to come from?” and “how can we encourage new people into our industry?”1

If you would like to be part of our culture and become one of Computacenter’s future talent, please watch out for our 2016 applications which will open later this year. To find out more about the Associate Programmes, please visit our page here.

Feel free to share and comment and stay tuned for next month’s Associate blog from Nicholas Bouwer.

Service Management Associate

#Computacenter #CCAssociates #NewTalent #ITSMF #ServiceManagementOfTheFuture

1 Sandra Whittleston, ‘The Millennial Shift – bringing new blood into ITSM’, ITSMF UK, serviceTALK, Autumn 2014, P.21.

Real customer advocacy requires more than “working” IT solutions.

I am very fortunate to venture far and wide on behalf of the company I work for to digest new ideas and concepts that we may subsequshutterstock_140452987_smlently embrace and take to market. It takes me up and down the UK, across Europe (and before you comment I know the UK is in Europe but bear with me for now) and to the USA. The most recent “road trip” was back to Vegas for the Citrix Systems annual partner summit and partner council. I may touch on a few of the Citrix high notes within another scribble but my main take away was the passion, emotion and single mindedness the Citrix team radiated in their pursuit of delivering a truly positive customer experience. Everything throughout the event was formatted to ensure all attendees “got the message”, that a positive customer experience is everything.

But through it all a point continued to chip away at me from within. Quite simply, in the IT systems integration world we may need to rethink and execute differently to really change the game. Thirty years of “right first time deployment”, project governance, best practices, et al are aligned in the main to achieve a primary objective “to minimise deployment risk”. And as an underpinning customer satisfaction element, risk mitigation is a core and critical component. But used as the main yardstick of success it can miss the opportunity to ignite real emotion, passion and advocacy where the beneficiary of the service feels a “eureka” moment from the solution deployed and links it explicitly to a positive personal experience.

You may deem this quite deep and cryptic but I hope it highlights the need to translate and calibrate key elements of the consumer style “experience” ‎for use within enterprise IT solution sales and service delivery. We work tirelessly to document successful engagements via customer references but many lack that “special something” that will ensure a future next reader of such reference or solution summary emotionally decides “I want that too”. Just imagine the power of such an experience with the ability to create and maintain true customer advocacy in a manner few other activities can.

I will close by recalling with a smile my last memory of such a “consumer style experience” when I was leaving Las Vegas. It was within a hotel synonymous with “customer delight” due to it being one of the primary crusades of the owner, Steve Wynn. As I left the Wynn hotel in the Las Vegas strip I struggled with my oversized cases towards the exit door (I am famed for having way too many computers, iPads, cameras, other tech devices, a nuclear reactor, et al) quite an elderly employee who was manning the machine cleaning the marble floor saw me walking (and bag wrestling) towards the door. He left his machine, pressed a button on the side, the doors opened and as I passed through, he said “I hope you enjoyed your time at the Wynn, it was a pleasure to have you here. Make sure you come back and see us again the next time you are here and have a fantastic day”.

As I said thank you and walked through the door, I turned and looked back at him and decided that I would definitely return again. And whilst I have always blazed the customer satisfaction trail, my experiences with Citrix and at the Wynn this week has left me pondering ways to seek that “special something” for the customers I engage with as we journey through 2015 and beyond. Just making things work may be good enough but not enough.

Until next time

Colin W

Twitter @colinwccuk

2014 the year Information Technology (IT) became “Our Technology” (OT)

2014 really was the year that was. Information Technology (IT) has for quite a while threatened to play such a fundamental role in our lives that we would struggle to function without it. In my opinion 2014 was the tipping point year where the silos between “technology” at home, play or work blurred into one – “a SMART one”. Through 2014 something SMART with a processor, memory, storage and a battery at its heart became the secondary brain that the developed/developing world leveraged to optimise and enhance “living”. Personal & work smartphones became just “smartphones” as BYOD moved from a disruptive marketing fad to an important catalyst for end user behavioural change within organisations. Mobile working, once the poor relation of “working in the office” became the must have work mode through 2014 opening the door to transformed organisational working outcomes through 2015 – watch this one as it should be the biggest technology user led transformation yet.

The internet of “stuff” (I’m bonding the Internet or Things and Everything) with sensor packed connected devices alwayshutterstock_156907532_smls on and transmitting data across the wireless airspace emerged as the new battleground for customer service and market control. The IOT/IOE topic gained a head of steam through 2014 but watch it fly through 2015 as connected devices leverage harmonised data to really behave in a “human SMART” manner. And as I briefly continue with the key stories of 2014, I will be remiss not to discuss the shift from “cloud HYPE” to “cloud RIPE” as cloud service providers on mass utilising software-defined datacenter, network and security ideals presented an increasing portfolio of real world, customer validated services that deliver essential outcomes to a now captive and receptive enterprise audience. Cloud is now here ………..

Phew – all in all there was an abundance of IT good news through 2014 that should act as a springboard for greater things through 2015. But was it all good news? Back to the recap, an ever increasing population of mobile device users, generating masses of then stored or transmitted information, talking to sensors that transmit or store masses of information, that interact with enterprise IT systems that process and store a mass of information and so on and so on must be a good thing. When leveraged for beneficial personal, customer, enterprise or society based reasons the potential to drive value is unparalleled. However that same footprint of rich, relevant, always increasing data/information is equally digital gold for hackers who aim to utilise it in completely different manner.

The result, 2014 also saw a rise to unprecedented levels of one of the biggest concerns now at the executive top table, “security breaches”. With hacks now the norm within end user, offline / online enterprises and even nation states, 2014 and the mass of data moving freely around the heavily digitised world changed the importance personal consumers and enterprise organisations placed on information security. Since the dawn of the modern IT era, IT security has been just that “security for IT devices” often developed and managed by technologists. 2015 will see a major acceleration of a trend already permeating the enterprise with IT security a fundamental core of “enterprise information security” (that adopts a holistic view of enterprise end to end business security posture that includes IT).  Security not a top priority through 2015? – not an option!

But no more talk about 2014, 2015 is here and its now. If 2014 was a dry run for the new face of people centric, end user fulfilling IT, 2015 is the year to make it happen. The end user is now king and long live the king (and queen). Stay tuned as we continue with this topic – (well at least for another 11 months).

Until next time.

Colin Williams

Twitter: @colinwccuk

2014 – That was the year that was…

As 2014 draws to a close, this blog focusses the events that shaped the year from a Workplace and Mobile perspective.

It would be fair to say that we’ve seen the impact of the “SMAC stack” (Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud) dominating the market, not only in terms of the customer agenda, but in the focus and strategy of the major vendors and our partners in this arena.

Nowhere did we see this more than in the Mobile market. Starting in February 2014 with VMWare’s acquisition of Airwatch for a staggering $1.54bn! Vendors competed to enhance their offerings towards more strategic mobile platforms through a number of partnerships and acquisitions. As the MDM market commoditised and these new platforms emerge, perhaps we’re starting to get a real sense of who is going to lead and drive this market in the future.

In that vein, here at Computacenter we have been embracing mobile with our Enterprise Mobility solution. We’ve experienced first-hand both the challenges of managing consumerisation, user expectation and integration of the mobile and non-mobile worlds, to capitalise on the opportunity to enhance the productivity and effectiveness of our mobile staff.

There were many acquisitions this year; Google acquired Nest (the home automation company), Facebook purchased WhatsApp and Apple bought Beats audio as just three examples of multi-billion dollar transactions in 2014. This signifies a battle amongst the biggest names in the industry to integrate, and ultimately dominate, our technology usage across our personal and professional lives.

We can’t fail to mention Microsoft – what a change in approach! In 2014 Office arrived on the iPad, the first major movement towards being a true multi-platform vendor in the future. Office 365 continues to develop significantly and the Enterprise Mobility offerings are maturing quickly – we expect many organisations to be looking seriously at Microsoft’s offerings in 2015!

So that was 2014. What of 2015? With Windows 10 due to land next year, will it drive a major programme of upgrade across enterprise, or will organisations continue to focus on their mobile platforms and retain their Windows 7 estates? And what of wearables? In the year that we’ll see the Apple Watch arrive, and with other devices already available, do we expect any practical business application from these new types of endpoint?

There will many technology driven innovations, again, next year, but the biggest challenges I forsee are in managing the complex environment of multiple endpoint types and platforms.   All these devices need to be managed efficiently and be enabled through content and application delivery frameworks that are platform independent.

The pace of change shows no sign of abating, so the major challenge is keeping up with the need to continually embrace the new world of IT, whilst integrating and managing the “legacy” solutions that still exist.

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