Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Digital Devastation in the Mobile Hardware Market and Emerging Trends

HP's PC and laptop division missed the emergence of the smartphones and tablets markets.  They must now pay the penalty and split into two separate companies which will need to seek new paths. Over the past few years, the list of mobile device losers has grown from Ericsson, HTC, Motorola, Psion, BlackBerry, Nokia, and now it looks increasingly like Samsung will join that list.  Dell returned to being a private company in large part as a result of missing the mobile device market. What can we learn from these casualties of digital transformation?

I think it is very difficult for hardware manufacturers to understand that successful products are not just the results of better storage, memory, processing power, screens, cases, radios, keyboards, etc., but about people, lifestyles, experiences, simplicity and ecosystems.  The way people live, interact, communicate, consume entertainment and find fulfillment are all contributing factors to the success of technologies today.

Developers are busy people with limited resources.  They want to develop for the largest potential markets.  This market turned out not to be gadget geeks, but music lovers.  Music lovers who became amateur photographers, and then mobile app consumers - i.e., us.  Who knew?  Steve Jobs.

It was a digital transformation where physical items were being digitized and made available through new and innovative Internet-based digital sales channels - App Stores.  App store usage, functionality and design were not what hardware engineers spent their days thinking about.  It was someone else's job - Steve Jobs.

I have to imagine Steve Jobs, a few years back, asking himself over a vegan meal, or a glass of green organic vegetable juice, "What things in our day-to-day life can be digitized, and how will it change the world?  This was unlikely the line of questioning the average electrical engineer or computer scientist in Finland, Dallas, Waterloo or Taiwan were asking themselves.

The competitive field has now moved beyond hardware and digital Internet-based marketplaces.  It is now about interacting closely with customers and markets to provide hyper-personalized services tailored for each individual.  How is this accomplished?  Read Malcolm Frank, Paul Roehrig and Benjamin Pring's book on Code Halos or visit the Future of Works website at  It is about providing incredible user experiences based on knowledge (collected and analyzed data, i.e. Code Halos) about the customer's preferences and history.

Here is how I see it:
  1. Enterprise hardware and industrial grade gadgets sold through brick and mortar markets which then morphed into consumer lifestyles devices, application ecosystems and digital markets.
  2. Each of these trends generated exponentially more data that are now increasingly analyzed for "meaning-making" and used to provide more intimate levels of hyper-personalized experiences.  These experiences are highly addictive and increasingly mobile.  We crave them and will spend our money with businesses that give us personalized experiences and spoil us. Consumers will quickly recognize the difference between companies with an effective "Code Halos" strategy and those without.  Consumers will spend their money with those that effectively and transparently use "Code Halos" to give us what we individually want.
  3. Hyper-personalized user experiences require a different level of IT infrastructure - a real-time IT infrastructure.  An increasing amount of commerce, research and shopping is conducted on mobile devices and this requires new and different real-time IT infrastructure to support mobile applications.  In a recent survey I conducted with over eighty participants, 77% said their current IT environment is inhibiting or limiting mobile strategies and plans.  82.7% said mobile app support would force them to make major investments in their IT infrastructure.  Over 70% answered that having optimized mobile applications and user experiences were "important to very important" for their company's future success.  
Making the transition to a real-time IT environment and infrastructure is BIG!  How much will it cost to support this Code Halos supported, hyper-personalized, mobile first IT infrastructure and environment?  61.7% said it would have a "Significant to Huge" impact on their IT budget.

It is critical for companies to take an inventory of their IT environments and to learn what it will take to digitally transform their businesses into a real-time, mobile first enterprises.  Budgets will and should be impacted.

Kevin Benedict
Writer, Speaker, Senior Analyst
Digital Transformation, EBA, Center for the Future of Work Cognizant
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Recommended Strategy Book Code Halos
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***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I am a mobility and digital transformation analyst, consultant and writer. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.