I don’t think smartphone makers are as innovative as they say they are. And believe it or not, I think this is good news for IT departments.
The big smartphone makers talk constantly about innovation. In fact, the tagline for the new LG G Flex is “the shape of innovation.” Apple’s corporate board is so used to thinking of the company as innovative it recently complained about not shaking up the industry lately. Part of me wonders how often we really need the industry shaken up, but that’s for another blog.
For now, I just want to point out that what some people call innovation is usually something else. Sometimes, it’s efficiency. There’s no doubt that smartphone and tablet technology is constantly improving. Advances in screen resolution, camera capability and processor speed are giving consumers better and better products. These advances are great—they’re just not innovation.
Sadly, much of the noise in the IT tech world isn’t about innovation or efficiency. It’s just marketing. Companies are trying to impress consumers with larger screen sizes on their phones while impressing them with smaller and smaller tablets, leading to the strange device known as the phablet. By definition, innovation is the act of introducing something new. Innovation is not painting your phone a different color, making the case from a different material, or putting hip-looking 20-somethings in your commercials.
This is good news for IT departments. With bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies becoming more common, IT departments have been scrambling to deal with a lot of new devices.
Those that have mastered mobile device management, like those using Novell® ZENworks® Mobile Management, can relax a bit now. No matter the fanfare, the iPhone 5s won’t look much different to your mobile device management program than the iPhone 3 does. This can help future-proof an organization. Folks talk about the increasing pace of innovation, but if your current software can handle the next few “innovations,” you don’t have much to worry about.
I believe that where the real innovation is happening is in the software. You can see it in applications that perform simple tasks better than we’ve been capable of before, like Evernote, WebEx Meetings, and Mint. Software innovation is also helping organizations do new things with old hardware. For example, cloud implementations and big data initiatives are ways organizations are using commodity hardware to do remarkable things.
For me, this is more good news. Novell is a software company, so these changes play to our strengths. And for all of us, as consumers and as IT professionals, this is good news. It’s much less important what color or size our phone is: It’s much more important what we can do with it.