Friday, August 8, 2014

More are online via mobile than a PC, in China

In what I view as the first of a trend that we've been predicting for several years, China has more people going online with a mobile device than a PC. Quoting from Reuters:
The number of China's Internet users going online with a mobile device—such as a smartphone or tablet—has overtaken those doing so with a personal computer (PC) for the first time, said the official China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) on Monday.

China's total number of Internet users crept up 2.3 percent to 632 million by the end of June, from 618 million at the end of 2013, said CNNIC's Internet development statistics report.

Of those, 527 million—or 83 percent—went online via mobile. Those doing so with a PC made up 81 percent the total.
This isn't just students using mobile devices, but everyone going on the Internet from China. This is a continuation of today's "bring your own device" or BYOD, in which people increasingly use personal devices to go online and access information. These findings should impact everyone in technology, from web developers to managers to CIOs.

To understand the current BYOD trend, let's look at a brief history of business computing:

When businesses started to use computers to help us organize information, and process large amounts of data, everything was neatly stored on a mainframe. This "timeshare" system allowed all the data to be managed "centrally". The equipment could be easily audited, the organization could control how information was accessed. If you needed to process the data stored on the mainframe, you used a "terminal", not much more than a monitor and keyboard at your desk. But that was only a "view" into the system; the real processing always took place on the mainframe, located in an isolated server room.

In the early 1980s, IBM introduced the IBM-PC. This put individual computing within the budget of home users, or departments within an organization. With the right software, a worker could process data without having to go through the company's mainframe. Directors and managers could use the "personal computer" as a tool to solve new business problems.

But at the same time, the industry began to worry that technology was leaving IT's hands. PC's were not mainframes, and central IT did not know how to control the new computer when you could buy one at a store: the "Consumerization of the desktop". Many in IT scoffed at the PC as a "consumer" desktop, that "personal computers" were underpowered or lacked sophistication to become a suitable replacement for mainframes.

But eventually, the PC pushed aside the mainframe, and IT had to find ways to adapt to the new model, and adopt the PC as a business tool.

Fast-forward to today, 30 years later. We are hearing the same rhetoric about tablets and smartphones. Except this time, individual departments aren't bringing them to the workplace—it's the people. Central IT worries about controlling the data on these devices, when they aren't managed by the organization. Still others say the tablet and smartphone as work devices are a "fad", and will pass.

IT will ignore the impact of BYOD at its peril. As an industry, we need to embrace the concept of BYOD, and find ways to leverage it. How do we support these personal devices without putting data security at risk? Cloud computing is a good first step, because the data isn't actually stored on the device, it's in the cloud. But we need to plan ahead for where we need to be in 1 year, in 5 years. How will the IT landscape change with BYOD?
photo: See-ming Lee

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.