Navigating the Post-PC World

70% of all devices sold in 2012 were tablets or smartphones. Tablet purchases by businesses will grow three times by 2016. These numbers, provided by Gartner, confirm what we already know from walking in the mall or sitting at a cafe…and the news for PC sales doesn’t appear to be improving any time soon.

Navigating this post-PC world can a frightening experience when your corporate lifeblood relies on the dominance of PCs. Compounding this is the fragmentation of the emerging market across native mobile platforms, three primary desktop browsers (exponentially more when including mobile), and varying device form factors and operating system flavors.

For traditional independent software vendors, the prospect of building a new product for a native mobile platform is daunting. The challenges of learning the technology platforms, user experience expectations, and a completely new connectivity situation is quite complex.

As a perennial leader in their market, Acme Inc. is well known for providing power users with a wide range of options in their software. Primarily data management solutions for device and process quality while relying on PC dominance, this new technology landscape paints an interesting picture. One that we at AIS were ready to address given our experience delivering mobile, responsive and cloud-based platforms for the likes of Vogue, Rolling Stone, GEICO and more.

Envisioning a Modern Acme Inc.

In envisioning the future of Acme Inc, we took an approach of augmenting existing products immediately with a set of cloud-based features. By delivering new, innovative features immediately and measuring customer experiences, Acme begins learning what opportunities match their customers expectations in this new space. As experiments turn into hard experiences, Acme can deliver incremental advancements much like our Lean Startup brethren.

Immediate Customer Mobility and Acme Learning

To enable this immediate set of features, we built a simple companion service called Acme Mobility which sits alongside the existing product on customer PCs.  Acme Mobility can be “turned on” by customers with a simple in-app confirmation, immediately and securely communicating device quality information with Microsoft Azure cloud services we’ve dubbed Acme Services.

Acme Services provides customer data isolation and regional sovereignty by using existing license information. This assures Acme customers are safe from regional regulations, which are a broad challenge for existing cloud service providers targeting areas like the European Union or government customers.

Once Acme Mobility is enabled, actionable data is available securely via a Responsive Web Application dashboard using any smartphone, tablet, or even a laptop or ultrabook. Smartphone devices can be enrolled using a one-time activation code delivered using the Twilio communications platform.

Growing a Companion Product or New Market Offering

Unique to Acme Services users is the ability to ‘Favorite’ devices. Where in the past a deteriorating situation can go unnoticed for hours or days between running the desktop client, negative situations are immediately brought to the user via Text Message.

By delivering a subset of data that is actionable one-way into a secure, sovereign cloud space we can deliver early value and provide Acme the opportunity to navigate the changing landscape. Had we demanded feature parity or complex two-way scenarios learning would be delayed, costs and risk would rise daily in the form of unconfirmed assumptions.

Navigating With Options

As the path to a mobile and platform-independent Acme product line becomes more clear, we expect a unique new market offering or a growing companion product to surface. The revenue and product packaging models offered by such a choice are as broad as Acme’s imagination. In the case of situational notifications, a per notification fee or tiered device plan are among the simplest of options.

Acme Inc. now has a broad set of options with which to navigate their new future.  By tackling these options calmly, methodically and regularly delivering unique mobile functionality to customers Acme faces a much more certain future.

About Ryan Cromwell

Ryan Cromwell is a coder by trade with over 10 years of experience delivering solutions ranging from real-time customer loyalty systems and elegant user experiences to streamlined statistical process control software. Having worked with passionate, high-performing Agile teams, Ryan ventured into the world of Scrum.org training and Agile coaching to replicate those amazing experiences. Ryan is co-founder of the Cincy & Dayton Clean Coders user groups, co-organizer of Southwest Ohio GiveCamp, and all around software community ally. Ryan has led presentations on effective team development, and various topics such as Agile, Scrum, Software Craftsmanship, WPF, Single Page Applications, Software Patterns and more. You can also find Ryan at http://cromwellhaus.com and on Twitter as @cromwellryan.