Setting the boundaries of choice

At Freeform Dynamics, we have been looking pretty closely over the last few years at the question of how client computing is evolving.

Of particular interest to us has been the question of how use will change with the growth in the variety of computing devices now available and how they will be bought, provisioned, secured, used and supported.

We have run many surveys investigating opinions and trends in this area.

These are leading us towards a view that the personal computing world of the future will be one where information, identity and context are the defining elements of how users interact with information and services rather than devices themselves.

It's important to realise that the world is becoming more mobile, but also that despite some claims that the day of the PC is over as new devices arise, the traditional PC will remain the mainstay of personal computing.

Our research also shows that for many companies the PC is becoming even more important as there is a major shift from individual, defined workspaces with a fixed, desktop PC to the use of notebooks as companies become more information centric and employees look to work more flexibly.

The PC remains the king of content creation, but it is not perfect for everything and this is opening the way to a multi-device world.

When we look at which devices are regarded as important, we are told that it is the phone will be the main complement to the notebook, increasingly in the form of the smart phone accessing information and applications in addition to being a great communicator.

Of all the devices a person uses, a phone is likely to be the one they miss first if it breaks or goes missing.

Tablets, for all the hype, are today generally best seen as being a nice-to-have device that slots in-between the PC and phone and is most likely to be used as a complement to either or both, rather than as a direct replacement for either.

So why are we bringing this up right now? Surely IT can evaluate these devices over time and roll out and support them as it has done in the past?

Before we look at this, it's important to realise a trend towards consumerisation in the computer industry, where users want to make their own decisions on what technology and services they wish to use, often without the advice and support of the IT department when they are used for business.

Consumerisation is of particular importance right now as there has been a fundamental shift in the economics and volume of computing.

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