Forget about devices for the moment. I want you to first imagine you just moved to New York City. It’s big, it’s bustling, it’s happening. Yet, as one of the pricier places to live in the United States, space is at a premium. Finding a place to live is a challenge and when you do it is never cheap. People learn to make do with less space. So it will come as no surprise that New York has some of the smallest apartments in the US. The smallest one happens to be 78 square feet. Yes – you read that right, 78 square feet (at $800 a month for the curious). That’s about the size of a walk-in closet. Luke Clark Tyler lives and works out of his tiny abode. From an efficiency standpoint the apartment is on another level, the couch becomes a bed, the printer sitting atop the microwave sits in the cupboard, and he even has the ubiquitous “junk drawer” (Is there anyone you know who doesn’t?). This kind of living isn’t for everyone but you can’t help but be impressed with his use of space. There is a fantastic take-away from Luke’s approach to his midtown mansion. As he states:
“The smaller the space you have the more critical it is to be efficient how you use it…an inch can make a difference.”
Luke has learned to maximize the space, create suitable structures, and retain only retain essential stuff. On a similar note there is a popular movement called the 100 Thing Challenge. The idea is that you identify and keep only 100 items in your life and get rid of the rest. This forces people to identify that which it truly important and needed versus that which is unnecessary and just taking up space.
So what does this have to do with mobility in the enterprise? In my day-time gig as a consultant I have the opportunity to intimately come to know the technology in different enterprises. I frequently come across ‘techno- glut’, the excessive use of technology. This comes is the form of data, applications, processes, hardware, etc. Usually this is the result of the misappropriation of technology as the savior of bad practices. The idea being that by throwing technology at broken processes the problem will be magically resolved. As a result it usually just compounds the problem.
Then, all of a sudden, in comes a large influx of employees wanting to connect their tablets, smartphones, etc to the corporate network. This presents many challenges. But, here is what I love about BYOD. The devices, because of their form factor, create the opportunity to re-imagine how we work. We get to throw the PC-mindset out the window and start fresh with all that we now know. The best part is that, though there are larger devices such as tablets, this re-imagining has to incorporate the perspective of a tiny little window, our consumer turned enterprise telephony devices. In order to make it all work from this tiny glass window applications and processes will have to think in terms of the 78 square foot apartment and the 100 item challenge. These devices just don’t have the space to allow for it all. We’ll ask, how can screen space best be utilized? What data elements do we really need? Is this a nice to have or does it really get used? As a result, enterprises will find that non-essentials are cut away out of necessity. This might not even be an intentional aspect of the enterprise mobile strategy. But it will happen. Employees want to use their devices in the enterprise and in doing so organizations will move into the digital equivalent of a 78 square foot apartment. Take a BI dashboard for example. If you want to display the elements BI dashboard on a smartphone, the loss of screen real-estate forces companies to focus on selecting which data points are the most important. Therefore, if organizations want to capitalize on the influx of consumer devices in the enterprise they will have to get rid of the non-essential bits as the platform just doesn’t have the space. As Luke says, “An inch can make a difference”.
Do you agree – do you think device form factor will force a more efficient solution? How do you see enterprises benefiting from this spatial consolidation? Post a comment and let me know!
Benjamin Robbins is a Principal at Palador, a consulting firm that focuses on providing strategic guidance to enterprises in the areas of mobile strategy, policy, apps, and data. You can follow him on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn.