Ok, I got it off my chest: “I brought my pencil”; and of course the Van Halen reference wouldn’t be complete without “Gimme something to write on man”.
In the case of Apple and the Apple iPad, they gave us something to write on long ago – April in 2010 to be exact. For over five years, the iPad, an iconic productivity device which enables fantastic features with finger and screen, ignored and actually shunned the stylus. Take it from me. I worked tirelessly testing stylus after stylus; application after application; trying to find the best combination to jump start my business note taking abilities. I was finally rewarded for the first time in June 2014 – BY MICROSOFT. The Surface Pro 3 successfully delivered technology which bridged the PC, tablet and notebook experience and freed me to process handwritten stylus enabled notes. Thank you Microsoft.
And thank you Microsoft for creating the compelling competitive feature which has forced Apple to dig deep and develop and deliver a stylus experience to complement the iPad. Now we can really see how these two solutions, the Surface Pro 3, a true PC, and the iPad Pro with Apple Pencil, a true tablet, fare in the corporate world.
Siri, Google Now, and Cortana are interesting as far as digital assistants go. Each have their strengths and weaknesses and each have their quirks and learning curves. Each of the digital assistants do seem to get better with use and certainly as the user gains experience with interacting with the assistant. You can perform tasks with each; each can remind you to do something at a certain time or based on another event, each can track where you are, and each can direct you to some place where you aren’t. They are practical and with practice, can become valuable.
What I’m waiting for is the next wave, the wave of intuitive assistants – and assistants with empathy. Perhaps I’m waiting for this for a very simple reason: empathy is something that is seriously lacking in the world today. With that in mind, wouldn’t it be great if our digital assistants interacted with all the other digital assistants out there and, based on empathy or maybe even some common sense and common manners, could make suggestions which would make the world a better place. Perhaps, when walking into a church or library or another place where being quiet is being considerate (and based on common geofencing technology), our digital assistant could in a hushed instant message suggest we silence our phones. Perhaps, when more of our clothing will be interconnected, when sitting in a restaurant, the digital assistant could suggest we remove our baseball caps because its just not right to sit with a baseball cap on at a table in a restaurant. Maybe when all the digital assistants are interconnected, they could make inferences from each other – when entering a space, if your digital assistant sensed that all the other digital assistants had silenced their ringers, perhaps your digital assistant may suggest you do the same even if other logic isn’t in place to direct you to do so. On and on, I can come up with examples and would challenge others to do the same – this will be the next revolution in digital assistants and also actually improve the environments and communities we live in.
For one of my New Year’s resolutions this year, I committed to actually use more of the technology that’s at my disposal to increase my productivity. As an example, I’m actually dictating this post rather than typing it. This is technology that’s been embedded in my Mac for the last several years but I have not used it.
I find that it’s the basic human instinct to not change the way they work and it is a pervasive change management challenge for every single project undertaken in the company. If I can’t personally change the way that I work even though it’s in my best interest and I have the tools to do so why would I change based on what someone else is telling me to do differently in a corporate environment? Hopefully I’ll get on the bandwagon in the coming months and raise questions and propose solutions to the technology and productivity challenges facing us everyday.
The announcement by Apple of the radically redesigned Mac Pro on June 10, 2013 was met with some mixed reviews. Most negative comments have tended to focus on perceived limitations of the new design relative to expandability. A recurring thread (if you allow me to extrapolate from only 24 hours worth of threads) is specifically the lack of “internal” expandability. The reason I am writing this entry, is that even though technical capabilities of integrating components with technologies such as Thunderbolt have removed performance barriers of using external devices, the perception of “everything having to be within one cabinet to maximize poformance” will need to be broken. To me, the new Mac Pro is taking on a component stereo approach, where each individual will be able to tailor their solution to their needs with the core “amplifier” at the heart of the configuation being the Mac Pro. The ability to move data at faster and faster speeds (20 GBs bidirectional in the case of Thunderbolt 2) through a cable frees the need to be physically limited by a cabinet with 4 expansion bays and allows an almost limitless ability to mix and match components as the user sees fit and as requirements demand. The danger here is to be stuck in a past paradigm – unless it is in one cabinet, something will be bottlenecked. Yes, capacity will still have a limit, but the limit will no longer have any perceived impact on productivity since the limit will provided near instantaneous response. Yes, Thunderbolt is an emerging standard and to be used with a Mac Pro, that’s one of the standards that someone will have to embrace, but that is no different than the standard of SCSI or PCI that would be inherent within the cabinet. We need to discard the boundaries and limitations of thinkinjg which marry us to the past and think outside the box – or in this case the cylinder.