Plenty of hype has been offered as tablet computers (first the iPhone, then the iPad) arrived, sold in enormous numbers, and slowed PC sales. Software vendors were quick to deliver Apps – partly to ride the new wave and partly to provide true ease of use and mobility for selected bits of their enterprise applications. It is finally dawning on some that tablets mean something different than what has been hyped. At HarrisData we believe tablets usher in a new era of consumerization of enterprise computing where the users act as consumers in selecting devices, and expect corporate applications to match the ease of use found in consumer Apps. Joshua Greenbaum notes Microsoft had a similar realization and provided its first answer in Windows 8.
The real tablet revolution was about multi-touch, not mobility, and with that tactile experience we’ve discovered a new way to improve the user experience that, while it found its first mainstream expression on the tablet and smart phone, need not be limited to those devices.
The enterprise focus must change to incorporate the user experience in the same way that consumer products focus on buyer experience. The big question is how does the vendor accomplish this focus? Creating a constellation of Apps around the corporate system is the most common path taken. However this creates a bifurcated user experience where multiple devices are required to accomplish normal workloads – an App on a smart phone or tablet for trivial matters and a PC for heavy lifting. HarrisData chose a different path, eschewing Apps for a touch screen enhanced browser interface that works both on a tablet or the PC with a single App-like user experience on all devices. Microsoft chose the HarrisData path.
I can access virtually all the functionality I need from a web page, instead of running a specialized app to perform the task. No need for an app to check public transit, the weather, airplane schedules, my Amazon account, listen to my local PBS station, check out Twitter, Box, or any other service I have a subscription to. I just point a browser – or better yet a bookmark – and away I go.
Corporate applications built on this framework deliver the promise of the tablet without sacrificing the power of current PC functions like word processing or spreadsheets. Creating spot Apps for popular functions fails to deliver.
It’s not enough to have your vendor promise a killer iPad app to satisfy your mobile user fan base. You should be demanding, and the vendors should be providing, multi-touch-based enterprise apps that can live in the mobile and the desktop world interchangeably.
Of course, once the interface is delivered there is much more work to be done. Underlying corporate applications must be restructured to capture and deliver the new work flows enabled by typical tablet Apps. HarrisData is currently restructuring our first applications with resulting products to be delivered soon.