Mobile First, PCs are Next

March 13th, 2015Mobility

Stellar growth of mobile devices along with new consumer software and services has been the primary IT catalyst this decade.  As such, company’s tendency has been to design for mobile devices before making new investments in traditional desktop computers. This results in a mobile-first strategy that prioritizes mobile users over those who are still tethered to larger and less portable screens.

This strategy is transformational for the mobile work force. However, the fact remains that data intensive work continues to be performed by a work force sitting in an office using a traditional PC. With mobile first, often the office is not getting the attention it deserves.  Ergonomics and productivity of knowledge worker improve significantly by using standing desks, multiple screens, large keyboards, and precision pointers.  A glimpse of the future workspace can be seen in Microsoft’s Productivity Future Vision Video.  And to put this into a historic perspective, is this amazing (nearly 30 year old) 1987 Apple Knowledge Navigator Video, with many predictions that are a reality in the home office today.

Mobile apps have set expectations for appearance and usability. However, from the IT enterprise perspective, this front-end client development is the easy part. There are millions of public apps.  Ensuring these apps comply with enterprise security policies, and effectively integrate with the correct data sources and business processes are where the real work begins.  Yet, so far, these mobile apps really have not fundamentally changed the way we approach our steady state desktop workload.

The monumental shift derived from mobility is that in just a few years, the smart phone became people’s main personal computer. It’s with you all the time, monitors your health, finds your friends, turns on lights, opens hotel doors, starts cars, pays for your meals, and soon, will be used to log into your workplace.   The shift also represents a change in market influence with smart phones becoming a two horse race. Android has a large lead in global sales. However, Apple’s iPhone took a record 89 percent share of smartphone operating profits  And in the enterprise during Q4 of 2014, iOS grew to 73% enterprise share in Q4 2014, Android dropped to 25%, and Windows Phone stayed flat at 1%. It’s becoming clear that Microsoft is moving from a Windows First model to Mobile and Cloud First, wanting Office 365 and virtual desktop apps to run on as many devices as possible.

Mobile Tailwinds

The traditional PC experience has not seen as dramatic a change. However, it is benefiting from many mobile tailwinds. From the iOS to Mac perspective this includes handoff and continuity features that enable phone and message pickup, easy transfer of in-app  work tasks, notifications, and widgets. We can expect similar cross-device experience with Windows 10. However, the fundamental tailwinds for IT in the office will be identity, convergence, and self-enablement:

  • Biometric Identity and End-to-End Encryption Everywhere
    Smartphones will play a very important role in identifying the user in the enterprise. Today registered smartphones are often used to send out-of-band passcodes. Now it’s going to get more personal with biometrics.  Your paired, trusted device will verify that you are really you. The good news is that we will not need to remember all those passwords. In the new release of AirWatch 8, Apple’s Touch ID can now be used to authenticate to their SDK applications.   Touch ID relies on a “Secure Enclave” inside a separate processor in the device to provide cryptographic operations and key management. By storing fingerprint data in the secure enclave, rather than on remote servers, Apple claims to maintain personal privacy and that the data is protected and secure. The device unique encryption key is derived from the user’s passcode and not even known to Apple. Third party apps use the system APIs to ask the user to authenticate using the Touch ID and are securely notified if the authentication is successful. Additional developments include: more Android models are including fingerprint readers and Lollipop 5.0 encrypts the local storage by default (however manufacturers turn off to boost performance); Windows 10 will support the next version of the Fast Identification Online (FIDO) spec, allowing devices to work with a wealth of third-party biometric readers; and HTTP/2 has been designed to operate exclusively over encrypted connections.
  • Convergence of Office Space
    Key to the new front office is convergence and integration of a number of often-disparate products and applications into a continuous and fluid experience.  Motivation in reshaping your end point workspaces will be from both improving productivity, as well as, reducing management costs. To invigorate the way meetings are conducted there is Microsoft’s Surface Hub.  Mobile enrollment methods can replace the need for domain joins, enabling low cost and low management devices like ChromeBoxes, as well as, IoT devices (i.e. watches) to be associated to users in the environment. The back office side of this convergence trend is the ability for the enterprise mobile management platform to become the API integration hub that joins cloud services to managed profiles on the device. This can range from global management of SIM cards to setting up configurations with service providers.
  • Self Enablement
    Scaling to the new world will require self-service portals  where users can: register and enroll devices, clear passcodes, and sync, lock, locate, send notifications to the devices; as well as, select the applications and content they need in their role.  In the next 3-5 years it is likely that Microsoft will sell its OS and apps as-a-service. This expected Utility/Agility – along with converged App Catalog (i.e., VMware Horizon Workspace Portal and AirWatch App Catalog) will support a wide range of centrally controlled and user managed application and content channels.


With mobile tailwinds, IT should look to normalizing their identity model around biometrics; designing persona-based entitlement and enablement services; and aggressively planning to enable business manager online subscriptions and resulting ongoing management of a rapidly growing intersection of device/app configuration profiles to cloud service providers.  Although the smartphone has taken center stage, today it’s typically in the pocket of the Office User.  Soon it will become a more integral partner in the new experience, as users continue to access large screens and find new ways to collaborate and navigate knowledge in more productive settings.

Tags-   Desktops Mobile devices Mobility