How Much Speed Can Mobility Provide?
It has become widely accepted that mobility can improve productivity and response time. Let’s try to quantify it: How much faster can you go?
I received a vivid demonstration of this a couple of weeks ago, when my son needed something for a project in his high school drama class: He needed a recording of a few sentences to be used as if they are being broadcast over a public announcement system. My daughter works with a person who can really speak like a professional public announcer, but they were both about a hundred miles away. No problem: My son used his iPhone to send the required sentences via WhatsApp, an instant-messaging app, to my daughter’s iPhone. She used WhatsApp to make the recordings and sent them to WhatsApp on my Samsung Galaxy S2, an Android smartphone. From there, I e-mailed the recording to myself, edited slightly on my laptop (trimming off the silent parts) using the open-source Audacity sound editor, and burned them to CD using Windows Media Player.
Total elapsed time: less than 30 minutes, most of which were spent making the recordings themselves.
Was this the best and fastest way to do it? Probably not. Was it the most modern way to do it? Of course not. To make this a centerpiece mobile story, we should have done without a laptop, since sound editing is readily available on a smartphone or tablet; and we certainly wouldn’t have used that anachronistic media called CD (it just happened to be the media used by the drama class sound system). There are probably a hundred other ways to achieve the same result, many of which would even be slightly faster or more convenient. However, when something is already so easy and fast, you don’t say “hey, let’s take ten minutes to figure out the best way so that we can do it five minutes faster”. You just do it.
Is this story all that impressive? For anybody even barely aware of today’s mobile technologies, it shouldn’t be. Similar things happen a hundred times every second, all the time, all over the world.
And this is exactly what I find so amazing: Ten years ago, we would have had to use laptops if not desktop computers, and we probably wouldn’t have had convenient access to mobile data communications, forcing us to use wired telephony to send the files. Twenty years ago, we’d probably have used a double-cassette tape player and we’d have to drive a hundred miles to meet the person recording the announcements. What difference mobility makes!
What other technology has given us such extreme productivity and speed improvements while feeling so natural and easy to use, without the need for training and skill development? I can only think of one, and it’s also a computing technology – the World-Wide Web. I would even argue that mobility delivers even more acceleration, in more tasks, for more people. This mobile world that we now live in is so much more productive, powerful, enabling and just plain fun than anything we had before. And the incredible thing is that we take it for granted!
Many of this blog’s readers are involved in enterprise mobility, and the way it accelerates existing business processes and makes new processes possible. Users – whether they are the enterprise’s employees, the enterprise’s customers or anybody else involved (suppliers, contractors etc.) – are more than ready to embrace mobility: They absolutely expect it. They expect everything to be not just possible but also to be intuitive and quick. They expect that the technology we provide them will work well when they use it in ways that we haven’t anticipated. And they expect the technology to deliver even better experience in its next update – which, keeping to the same theme, should be quick to arrive.
Let’s make it so.