Monkeying around

by Brian Katz on February 7, 2013 · 0 comments

It used to be easy. I would go to work, sit down at my desk and start working on my laptop. Everyone at work had a laptop. I had mine hooked up to an external keyboard and mouse as well as a large monitor. The laptop sat in a nice docking station where everything was already hooked up so it was easy. At the end of the day I ejected the laptop and took it home with me for whatever work I had left to do. The whole office was the same way and many still do that in my office today. I was productive. On the other hand, when I was traveling, it was a pain. As anyone can tell you, it was unbelievably expensive to get a WLAN mobile card and they were slow as molasses. The battery life of the machines was maybe 3 hours or if you turned WiFi off you might eke out a whole 4 hours of work time. The computer weighed about 6 pounds and the power brick was another pound. It just wasn’t a lot of fun to carry around. Yet it went everywhere with me. If you asked me whether I was productive, I would have definitely answered yes.

bz MONKEYS 05-07-10

Fast forward to the last year and I marvel at what I used to call productivity. These days, when I travel, if I have to I carry a laptop that weighs 2.9 lbs and last 7 hours on a single battery charge. In the same bag I carry a smartphone and a tablet with an external keyboard. If I know I don’t need a computer (some things just don’t work well on a tablet) I travel with just a tablet and smartphone. The whole kit (without the laptop) including chargers weighs 2 pounds. The phone lasts most of the day unless I am using it heavily and the tablet lasts me easily twelve hours of constant use.

I can now connect whenever there is WiFi or a cellular signal and am able to do work almost everywhere. Productivity moved from nine to five in the office and maybe an hour or two at home depending on the night to whenever and wherever I needed to get something done. I very rarely look at my location as the limiting factor of my productivity. I have been away at a soccer tournament 8 hours from home at the field for my daughter’s game at 8am in 28 degree weather when I have answered a call for an emergency, fired up my tablet, logged into work and in 10 minutes saved a deal worth a lot of money and then still watched my daughter kick some ass on the field. The confidence and trust I have in the devices and apps that I have installed make it easy for me to be productive.

Understand, mobility isn’t about having a smartphone or a tablet. It’s not about being able to use WiFi or cellular. People don’t just become productive because you’ve given them a new device. This is one of the issues facing many companies today. They read about BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) or companies that have saved tons of money or become more productive by giving out smartphones and tablets. They see posts from the big analyst firms and articles in the New York Times about the importance of mobility. Yet, most of the time these companies miss the meat of these stories because very few understand it.

You see, you can give an infinite number of smartphones and tablets to an infinite number of monkeys but it’s highly doubtful any of them will crank out a work of Shakespeare, much less a usable white paper. It’s not the devices that make them productive. You see Mobility is about equipping people with the best tools, that they can use when and where they need to, to be productive. An iPhone isn’t a tool. Neither is a Samsung Galaxy 10.1 tablet. A tool is when you marry a great app with a great device. It’s the combination of these two pieces that make the tool that allows you to enable your people so they can be more flexible and agile. Sure, it’s great to be able to answer a phone in Timbuktu or surf the web from Kalamazoo, but chances are, that’s not what you need your users doing. You want them to be able to close that sales call, fix that server, run that clinical trial, and consult that airplane flight book. These are all the things that allow your people to be more productive and efficient while being flexible and agile. It’s about enabling them to do their job and fulfill the business requirements of what they’re working on. The business strategy isn’t to give people the latest smartphone. It’s to give people the tools they need to get the job done and make money.

The ability I have, because of the apps we have chosen to marry to our devices, allows me to do things like write a white paper at thirty thousand feet after watching three different 2 hour movies and have it automatically added to my work repository when I land without ever plugging my device in for power. I can then reference that same paper while on a conference call where I am participating in a web conference on the way home in the car. While I may not be able to write a sonnet like Shakespeare, I can still be more productive than ever before because I have the right tools for the job…monkeys be damned.

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