Since Apple introduced the iPad in 2010 (yes, it’s been less than three years), its mass adoption by consumers has accelerated the consumerization of IT and bring your own device (BYOD) trends. These forces have left executives struggling to ensure that their company’s IT strategy and investments keep pace.
Microsoft’s recent launch of the Surface tablet seems targeted to address this increasingly important gap in the device market.
Industry observers have suggested that the Surface could be the first serious challenger to the iPad. When you consider what employees need—and what companies must provide—to support productivity, the Surface appears to touch all the bases, particularly for companies that have implemented Lync as their unified communications platform:
Mobility—Consumers have become accustomed to getting what they want from wherever they are. Since consumers are also employees, this expectation has forced companies to raise their game. For th mobile workforce, the ability to access emails, schedules, and documents and collaborate from office, home, travel, and any point in between is the new standard.
Utility—One of the challenges the iPad presented to corporate America was that employees loved using the tablet to consume information and media, but it’s not really suited to produce material in a work setting. The Surface solves this problem, not just by having a better keyboard but also by being integrated with the Microsoft Office suite of products.
Compatibility—Lync is a device-agnostic platform, already enabling individuals to log on from their PC, smartphone, or tablet. Since the Surface’s operating system will run on a Microsoft platform, an organization’s ability to support it will be greatly enhanced.
Over the next several years, technology will continue to converge into fewer devices. For companies, the challenge will be to implement a platform that’s flexible enough to accommodate not only new types of devices but also emerging customer trends. That’s where the combination of Lync and the Surface could be a game changer.
Approximately 70 percent of Fortune 500 companies have implemented Lync. As Microsoft has acquired Skype and now Yammer, it appears to be pursuing an aggressive strategy to combine voice, video, enterprise social networking, and collaboration tools into one platform. With all of these capabilities, you can imagine individuals and companies would be seeking a single device—one that can both support productivity and consumption—to serve their needs. The Surface seems well placed to be that device.
Let me know your thoughts on the potential impact of the Surface on the workplace.