Monday, February 6, 2012

Birnbach Communications' Top Predictions for 2012, Part 6

Here's Part 6 of our predictions:

1.     Converging technology, like the “paperless office,” won’t live up to its hype. Converging technology was supposed to result in single devices that could handle multiple functions.  The problem: we still need too many chargers and have too many devices to sync.  Although smartphones have killed the wonderful Flip camera, and damaged sales of standalone cameras, dedicated GPS units and watches; convergence hasn’t delivered exactly clear benefits. Instead, we own and carry more devices: laptop or ultrabook, iPhone or Android phone (or, decreasingly, BlackBerry), iPad, iPod, etc. What’s worse are the multiple chargers we need to power those devices: laptop charger, phone charger, iPad charger (at least iPhones, iPads and iPods use the same charger) -- which doesn't take into consideration the separate chargers for all of these devices for your office, car and home.

But the real problem with multiple devices is the need to sync them all. Every device seems to contain an address book for friends, family and work, and those address books all need to be replicated on your cell, your work and home phones, laptops, tablets, etc. – if only because no one ever remembers phone numbers anymore. The same is true with email accounts on different devices and calendars, especially if you need to track activities for your spouse and children. The problem is that not all devices sync well with others. So mistakes and false information creep in, leaving users with zombie appointments that keep updated but can't be killed, um, deleted. Multiple devices require different syncs during the day, which increases the likelihood of some information that you actually need getting overwritten or misinformation getting repeated and reducing the owner's confidence in the info. This gets even more complicated as the workplace increasingly is embracing Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) to the office.  The ability to have devices operating on different platforms sync and communicate to each (techs call that “interoperability”) is critical in a BYOD work environment.  Some companies, like Apple, prefer their own ecosystem so that you're not-so-subtlety pushed to buy only one platform, theirs. B2B tech vendors have tried that before, but their corporate customers don't like to be locked in. While there will always be Apple evangelists, the rest of us want interoperability, and customers will be better served if we get that. If there's truly an app for interoperability, it needs to be simple to use and cost-effective. Otherwise, convergence won’t live up to its promise. And for personal usage, convergence is sometimes more important than the device itself.  This point is perhaps best made by noting that young adults love all the features on their phones, except two: the phone (because they rarely actually use phones to make a call) and voicemail (they prefer texts).

Let us know if you agree or disagree. And check back tomorrow for additional predictions.

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