2 Business Transformation Markers from Apple WWDC 2011

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There’s news galore about Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference announcements, but amongst the mountain of new feature analysis and reporting I see two transformational items which haven’t got much press. The first is related to the “home media center” transformation, and the second to the cloud computing transformation.

Home media center

Windows has a home media centre. It’s on a PC, duh! Some reports of Apples new iCloud gushingly headlined this type of summary “Apple pins its hopes on the iCloud as users drift away from computers”. That’s a poor headline, although that actual article in the Guardian is very good.

Users aren’t drifting away from “computers”. We’re being more and more surrounded by them, almost embedded with them!

BUT! The universe IS drifting away from the PC as the centre of anything, and especially the home media centre.

That IS a transformation – not technically but business-wise, personally, socially and emotionally. The blurring of personal and business life, and entertainment, is all part of what makes this a real transformation. People interacting with their music, TV, work, and social channels “simultaneously” is not going to revolve around a PC. And guess who is placed best for where it will happen, Apple. Not because they have the devices, but because they have the devices and the ecosystem and the assets.

Which brings me to my next point

Cloud Computing – the transformation accelerates

Apple is reputed to have spent $1 billion on their new data centre in North Carolina to support iCloud.

There is still lots of noise and emotion about cloud computing, and our trusty sales folk are making hay while the sun shines with traditional Fear Uncertainty and Doubt to keep customers from making the big choice.

But which companies, in the world, can afford to spend what the big cloud providers are spending on their data centres? Microsoft is said to be spending $500 million per centre. Plus they attract the very best people, because they can and because it is leading edge. The world’s smartest computing scientists and IT practitioners and operational experts are working for Amazon, Apple, Ebay, Facebook etc. Not for the banks, and the traditional IT vendors. Those “old” sources are good, but not transformational, perhaps with the exception of Microsoft in a perverse way. Microsoft’s cloud solutions are very good and they are coping with the cannabilization issue after many years of internal conflict.

All this means is that the transition to the cloud, for 98% of businesses, is just a matter of time. That time period will be largely a matter of emotion, pushed by a build-up of cost and competitive pressures on the laggards.

If you can’t afford to spend $500m to $1 billion on your data centre, then you need to ask serious questions about why you are investing any money in “computing” and not planning the path forward to cloud and the necessary communications support. You may need to invest in new access devices, and communications, but you don’t need what you had.

The IT world is in transition – business transformation follows

Just these two trends, accelerated by a “consumer” company are enough to show that the whole IT world is heading for massive transition, and the business transformation opportunities are big.

PS I was going to title this post “iOS 5 is irrelevant” but that’s a bigger topic I’ll leave for another day.

What do you think was the biggest transformation from WWDC?

How do you think the cloud transformation will play out with most businesses?

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