Mobile and Cloud Computing for Small Business
By Cynthia Kocialski,
you predict the future of computing and mobile from observing the
behavior of kids? One of the things I have always noted about my
own kids, my nieces and my nephews is the overwhelming attachment
to hand-held toys - no, I am not talking about cell phones and portable
game players. While those doll houses, sit-and-spins, backyard playhouse,
push cars, Lego sets, and other big toys are fun, they don't seem
to hold the attention of a child for very long. What kids prefer
are smaller toys that are hand-held, can be taken around within
their book bags, and can be used just about anywhere. Let's face
it, kids don't want to be in their bedrooms playing with some big
toy, they want to bring that toy to where everyone is gathering
in the house and play where there are more people around. And when
it's time to go, they want to take the toy with them and continue
playing with it.
Will the Home Desktop RIP?
I see the same thing happening with consumer electronics. People
love their mobile phones and laptops, precisely because they are
mobile - they are much like those small toys that kids play with
more than those really big things. I can see desktop computer systems,
which are tethered in our home offices, becoming a thing of the
past. As laptops and e-book flow into the school system, our kids
will become used to their school work, entertainment, and connectivity
carried around in one device and accessible from anywhere.
What Became of the 1930's Family Radio?
Likewise, it's not uncommon in a household for everyone to be off
doing something different - maybe I'm on my laptop, my daughter
might be reading a book, and so on. Why do I need a TV set for the
family to gather around? Will it have the same fate as the family
radio that everyone gathered around to listen to in the 1930's?
My daughters both know how to watch Internet TV shows and movies
on their computers. And yes, both my daughters had laptops or netbooks
by kindergarten. As long as they are each getting to watch the TV
show of their choice, I don't have to listen to them argue over
whose turn it is to watch their show on the big screen.
The typical laptop sells for $645, the netbook around $500, and
a big screen 50 inch TV monitor is $1,500. Do I really need that
TV? Nope, I really don't. That's one TV for my kids to fight over
or three laptops that will create peace and quiet in the house -
and laptops do double duty for school work!
Will Mobile Unseat Some Laptop Uses?
For some applications, it's just simpler to access them on a mobile
device. I have no need to look up movie show times on my laptop
when I can just touch an icon on my iPhone.
Are Small Businesses Migrating to Mobile?
According to a Scarborough Research study, for the average person,
the major uses for a mobile device are text messaging, email, Internet
searches, and picture or video capture. The home computer use is
for Internet access and email. What I've noticed recently is that
people aren't even using computers as much anymore. I see small
businesses that have been established for some time and have investments
in desktop computers continue to use them. But those new businesses
run by those 20- or 30-somethings are moving exclusively onto their
cell phones to conduct business. My kids, who are your typical overscheduled
children, have many afterschool activities and the providers of
these activities along with most small businesses I patronize, just
use their cell phones to correspond with customers - everything
seems to be tagged with "from my iPhone" or "from
my Blackberry". Appointments can be made and confirmed with
online calendars, bills sent to my email accounts and payments can
be made electronically.
Is Cloud Computing Moving Us Back To The Past?
Now consider that cloud computing is moving the compute power of
the commonplace software application away from the desktop into
the cloud. Why do we need to have QuickBooks loaded on our home
PCs when our files can be held in a system elsewhere. I really dislike
when my home PC crashes and I have to reload all the software and
restore the back-up. I am very willing to let that be someone else's
job! Apps were on the desktop because of inadequate connectivity,
but the Internet has improved dramatically since the days when this
direction was taken. At large sporting events, crowds of fans still
cannot all tweet themselves silly because there are network capacity
limitations. Greater mobile connectivity is coming.
Once there were mainframes and users accessed the compute power
from dumb terminals. Are we moving back to the past, but with a
new and improved twist? Will laptops and cell phones simply become
the dumb terminal interface to the applications elsewhere?
Okay, you have me. The cell phone screen size is still annoying
to me, but I think a lot of that can be solved with designing apps
to be displayed on the smaller screens instead of converting user
interfaces meant to be displayed on larger screen devices.
Cell Phones and Internet Access Are a Necessity
Nokia reportedly sells 260,000 smartphones worldwide each day,
Android sells 200,000, and iPhone sells 80,000 phones. Super smartphones
are in the works with on-board memory and multi-core processors.
As city-wide Wi-Fi networks are established and our cars become
Wi-Fi hotspots and the vehicular and ad-hoc networks technology
improves, everyone will have greater access to the Internet from
anywhere and further push the functionality of mobile and wireless.
Every country on the globe has developed their own national broadband
plan, and every one I've read, has Internet access for the entire
populations and education moving to digital as top priorities. Cell
phones and the Internet have become a necessity, much like any other
utility such as electricity, water, and gas.
In China, the youth aspire to have the latest and greatest cell
phone, not the next generation laptop. They cannot afford both.
The same will be true of India - a large population with cell phones,
but not necessarily laptops or netbooks.
The Connection to Start-ups
What does all of this have to do with start-ups? There is a big
opportunity to make smartphones and cloud computing the platform
for small businesses. Cell phones and mobile have made great strides
in the consumer market, but there has not been much traction in
developing this technology to operate small businesses. Young entrepreneurs,
who are digital savvy and already accustomed to smart phones, will
prefer this device to conduct electronically. And in regions of
the world, where ownership of both cell phones and laptops are not
economically feasible, it makes sense to move simple small business
apps to the available devices.
About the Author:
Cynthia Kocialski has founded three companies
and has been actively involved in more than 25 hi-tech start-up.
Cynthia has held various technical, marketing and management positions
at IBM and Matrox Electronics. She is a graduate of the University
of Rochester and the University of Virginia. She writes a blog at
Published - March 2011