Mary writes this tantalizing post. Here’s some free-thinking:
By 2015 large corporates will be moving en masse to a decentralized client computing environment based on laptops (or their kin) owned by users with time and usage leased back by their corporate masters. This will mark the era of the loosely-coupled enterprise (LCE).
This means virtualization, obviously. If your kid runs ‘torrent and you manage payroll, well, that could introduce some issues. You’ll need secure hardware to sit under your VM’s, and that means secure input, secure ouptput, TPM’s and isolated execution in every box. Der. This is needed to provide security against root-kits which do stuff like screen-scrape and keystroke log. You need to be “invulnerable” enough to rooting so that the coming wave of ever-more-sophisticated and targeted 0 day roots are manageable as per-VM annoyances rather than per-system nightmares.
All this HW-rooted-ness implies some form of federated vouchsafing-in-the-sky so that someone somewhere can make an intelligent decision about what to trust and when, to do something they care about. Reputation systems for SW, users and HW makes a lot of sense here. To prevent MITM attacks corporations will need a way to prove to users that they are who they say they are, so that means a much better, clearer identity for a corporation. Users will need a strong, accountable identity which they can “own” outside of the context of the strong, accountable identity their coporation owns.
When virtualization and decentralization come to pass then I can see one hell of a lot more Apple in wage-earner hands. I was talking to a certain Very Large Bank the other day and they claimed that one year ago they were very bullish on MSFT, but after looking at Vista for a year and doing a west-coast tour of all the obvious players, they are re-thinking their entire desktop strategy. They are saying they plan to chuck MSFT and go APPLE for the entire enterprise. That’s an OMG if I ever heard one.
If that’s true, it would be a mind-blowing sea-change and should cause EA/SA-focused sales folks at MSFT to completely wig out. The fact that this bank was even willing to mention it to me means they aren’t being laughed out of the room within their own company, and that is stunning. Apple in an enterprise? Woah. Virtualization is key here as it means you don’t have to forgoe Windows, you just put it in it’s own little box.
(If Apple had an ultra-mobile with a TPM 1.2 and a TCG-compliant BIOS to run BitLocker, I’d probably be using it right now. I admit it. But they don’t and I can get way more computer in a Lenovo that handles a drop test from way higher than any Apple…)
I see web-based everything with data getting cached all over the place. Local HD’s become simply the third (fourth?) fastest cache on my desk as part of a giant replicated cloud-o-networked data. Data becomes very boring, while knowledge and relationships (personal networks for you web geeks) become incredibly important.
Sooner or later Google will figure enterprises out and give MSFT proper competition, which could make Office usable again, among other things. (Wouldn’t that be nice?).
Google has pointedly started to work on phones, it would be really nice if they decided to focus on buiness phones, rather than on dashing themselves against the rocks of the cliffs of iPhone. Blackberry needs some real competition and it’s a great market to go after.
However I’m NOT predicting that, teh Googly kidz will make fonez for temselves, and tat means webby phonez with pics and kool stuphs.
Maybe they will make phones for the next 1B netizens, that would be really cool. Apple sure isn’t going to get the next 1B phone sales. MSFT may spend the next 3 years trying to de-cool Apple and failing, that would certainly be normal for both companies.
I think we will see a rebound effect AWAY from large cities for information workers as they realize that, now that the coporation is de-centralizing and they don’t have to be at the same office every day, they can have a pasture, chickens, dogs and dirt for their kids to get all over their faces, rather than an awful IKEA-esque nightmare of modern non-design. Neal Stephenson’s burbo-claves except fuelled by bio-diesel and with organic craft cheese.
Highly de-centralized businesses are less prone to things like terrorist attacks and pandemic plagues, too, which is a nice fringe benefit. Good luck to all you terrorists planning to attack Whitefish Montana. You go, I can’t wait to read about it.
All this implies a high-degree of webbiness, which means more interesting stuff much faster at some levels – but it may also mean REDUCED innovation in the underlying platform as applications become more and more portable, and thus more and more abstracted, and thus less and less interested in platform-specific capabilities.
What else? We will need a new (old) management theory, I’ll have a post on that later.