Why real estate companies love digital workspaces

The real estate business has always been a personal passion of mine and so I grew to have a lot of contacts in this industry. tocario as a company and I personally therefore have a lot of conversations with leaders in this industry on what major challenges and changes real estate companies are facing today.

This post is the summary of what is driving this and other industries with regard to the workplace of the future. I will try to answer one question: “How can real estate companies and other traditional industries turn the challenges at hand into opportunities to gain a competitive advantage by embracing change and industry trends?”

It’s all about the money

The first major challenge is closely related to the construction side of real estate projects. Competition has been fierce between construction and project development companies, and as a result margins have come under heavy pressure. This pressure has forced many project development construction companies to change the way business proposals are managed, following request for proposals (RFPs) to win prestigious projects.

Bids on RFPs have switched from a top down approach based on cost based estimations plus a risk covering safety margin, to very detailed analyses of the whole project and (re)planning the designs in 3D plans to have detailed and certain bottom up cost-based estimations of a project’s total cost. Adopting this last approach, in a BIM (Building Information Modeling) methodology, makes the whole construction process more efficient by identifying planning conflicts upfront and avoiding failure costs. This change in methodology is estimated to account for 10% to 15% of a project’s total cost in traditional methodologies.

The other big challenge is related to the sales processes and methods used by real estate developers and brokers, especially when selling projects that haven’t been built yet. Investors and project developers are trying to increase volumes by decreasing the payback period(PBP – the time needed to recoup the funds invested in a project) of each project, while maintaining a high sales price to optimize profitsand to minimize the financial investment risk. To achieve this minimum PBP at optimal margins, the challenge does not lie in making shiny, happy and high resolution pictures, or having the best glossy marketing, to convince one to invest a significant amount of money based on pictures and location maps only. The real challenge lies in smoothening the sales process to create value through experience, and reach out to the right buyer: someone who sees the value of a real estate project and is willing to pay the amount requested by the developer. Thisperceived value is personal, and strongly depends on personal preferences, needs and requirements. This is why real estate developers and brokers are looking for disruptive and innovative sales tools as an opportunity to gain a sustainable competitive advantage, increase profits and significantly shorten the PBP.

 “If you want to know how to sell more, than you better know why customers buy.

Before starting to shape up the ideal innovative sales tool solution for real estate developers, you have to understand the buying behavior of our potential buyers.

In general, the decision to purchase something is strongly influenced by the ability to reduce the (financial) risk and stress of a bad buy, and thus any sales process/methodology should be focused on gaining trust and confidence to take away hesitation. As an example let’s identify 3 major types of buying behavior, and extrapolate real estate buyers to these different behaviors. You’ll see that these behaviors strongly depend on the type of product bought, the size of the investment made to purchase the product and the frequency of buying it.

The first behavior is relying on a strong return policy, to gain trust and convince the buyer to purchase a product. This strategy is fairly simple: if you don’t like it, just send it back and get reimbursed, decreasing the financial risk of your purchase. The main example of this buying behavior is observed when we buy fashion and clothes online. The offer online is much larger and access to it is pretty easy, but the risk that a product won’t fit, or isn’t exactly what you’d have expected it to be, is higher. To eliminate this buying hurdles, these e-stores offer good return policies to convince to purchase and try. These purchases are pretty small and have a regular frequency.

Another behavior, pretty complementary to the first one, is buying based on (peer/user) reviews and informationlike specifications. Think of buying technology products on Amazon. You want to be well-informed before taking action and buying by looking at the 5 star rating and the reviews of other buyers. These purchases are non-daily, less frequent and consist of medium sized investments.

The 3rdbuying behavior is strongly influenced by, and based on, ‘experience’. This experience based buying behavior is most likely to be observed when making larger investments. These investments are no daily or recurring events, but are pretty rare. Think of buying a car, a boat or even an expensive top-notch sound system. That is why huge efforts are made and huge amounts of money are invested in showrooms, to give a potential buyer an amazing experience, making it easier for him to justify, and feel more comfortable, with spending his money. The buyer feels the value of the product he is about to buy, and gets him into the less rational decision making unit of the brain.

If we want to create an innovative sales tool for real estate developers, with a winning sales strategy to gain a buyer’s trust by taking away fear of a bad buy, it is very likely that our new efficient sales tool should bring any potential buyer increased value by the opportunity to experience the real estate project upfront.

You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology – not the other way around.” – Steve Jobs

The question still remains: “If experience is key to investing in real estate, how can potential buyers be convinced to invest their money in real estate that hasn’t been built yet?”

Nowadays, amazing pictures and location maps are used to give potential buyers a preview or experience at the whole virtual real estate project, to prove a project’s value. Sometimes you can even watch good looking walkthrough videos with an amazing level of detail. No wonder that these pics and videos come with never ending sunshine, happy people playing outside and having fun all day long to trigger your emotions. If you’re lucky, as a potential buyer, you’ll even have the opportunity to visit a well-designed cozy interior of a showroom to discover how the interior of the real estate project could look like. However, there’s still many significant and critical dimension unexplored. You just can’t physically visit the project as it physically doesn’t exist yet, and that is where virtual/immersive reality combined with real-time rendering comes into play.


I recently discovered multiple companies, creating content in virtual/immersive reality based on 3D and BIM designs. One of them, Nanopixel, added multiple parameters and filters to this virtual reality up to an unseen level of detail. On one of their projects I was able to select the budget, number of rooms, orientation etc. I was also able to select the time of the day, and the season, while the system would simultaneously render the model in real time to show how the light would come in. For the first time I felt like I was walking around in the apartment, having a look at those dimension that matter to me. It has been the closest experience to walking around physically in an existing real estate project. In future projects I expect that virtual visitors will be able to change more and more settings to comprise more and more dimension to converge towards an equal to real-life experience.

Instead of thinking outside the box, get rid of the box

Deepak Chopra

This whole virtual/immersive reality, combined with real-time rendering, and the increasing amount of parameters, features and dimensions to be added to these models, brings us to the next big challenge or question. The last hurdle we have to overcome to unleash the full potential of this new sales tool is to be summarized as: “How can we bring these models, with demanding graphical computing performance, to any potential buyer? We can’t expect them to buy a heavy workstation, install heavy software, and download these models (comprising multiple Gigabytes) to experience a real estate project, do we?

If we want to reach a large group of potential buyers, and not only those owning heavy graphical workstation to run these immersive models, we need to find a medium that combines the storage and the processing power, accessible at anytime, anywhere and with any device, to overcome the last hurdles to create an efficient innovative sales tool for the real estate business.

That’s the time where cloud computingfinally comes in, what did you expect? With our MyGDaaS platform, performance is streamed over the cloud, no downloads are needed as MyGDaaS runs heavy immersive reality designs in any HTML5 browser to provide any user with a fluid experience to run these models instantly, with any device to experience your next real estate investment.

A conclusion is the place where you get tired of thinking

Arthur Bloch

The main advantage for real estate developers and vendors is related to the ability to reach out to a huge amount of potential buyers, increasing the project-buyer fit. Finding the right buyer for a project, leads to shorter PBP, higher value and margins and lower financial risks for real estate developers. This cloud adoption to sell projects, based on immersive reality to increase experience, might lead to a significant competitive advantage.

On the other hand, investors get access to a larger supply of possible projects, as experiencing a real estate project goes instantly. They don’t need to travel or make appointments anymore. Just take your tablet, click a link, and walk through a potential investment project.

It is clear that MyGDaaS stands for the missing link to create tomorrow’s innovative sales tool, disruptive-by-efficiency, by taking away all hurdles to let any potential buyer experience his future real estate investment. Try it yourself and let’s engage in a conversation about your business.

Six Pillars of Digital Success for CIOs

Six Ways CIOs Can Drive Digital Transformation and Lead Their Companies Toward Revenue

Growing a digital business is essential for virtually every enterprise across every industry. Large enterprises and small businesses alike are digitizing their internal and customer-facing processes and services to increase efficiency, scale their businesses, and collect meaningful data. Yet, while many companies have launched digital services to collect data, we haven’t fully tapped into the potential of data analytics—even though studies suggest that digital will be a top differentiator in years to come.  Curious how you can get a better handle on digital transformation? Read on to learn why it’s so crucial, plus discover six key ways to digitize your business.

Why Digital Transformation Is Such a Big Deal
A recent survey of 573 senior executives from North and Latin America, Europe, and the Asia-Pacific region conducted by Forbes Insight and Hitachi shows that less than half of executives see themselves as advanced or leaders in data and analytics. The survey drew responses from executives across a wide range of industries, from technology and services to finances, telecommunications, and healthcare.

Even though the vast majority of companies—91 percent—that use data and analytics have experienced increases in revenue, only a third see themselves as leaders in customer experience. This gap highlights how underutilized data and analytics continue to be in the business world.

Researchers from the MIT Center for Digital Business define digital transformation as “the use of technology to radically improve performance or reach of enterprises.” In a 2014 survey of 157 executives at 50 companies, researchers found the best-performing companies combined digital activity with strong leadership to leverage technology for transformation. According to the researchers, these companies had reached digital maturity—a differentiator that led them to outperform their competition.

The key areas where the MIT Center for Digital Business saw executives digitally transforming their processes were customer experience, operational processes, and business models. Additionally, as Forbes and Hitachi’s survey shows, these are also areas where IT leadership can lead the way. To be successful with digital transformation, CIOs need to steer their companies in two seemingly opposed directions. IT leaders need to take a bigger, long-term vision while executing on outstanding operational delivery within the organization. In order to fully transform their company digitally and ensure success, CIOs need to take these six steps.

|| Data-driven ||
|| Business-centric ||
|| Across silos ||
|| IT managed ||
|| HR supported ||
|| Culture transformation ||

 

1. Make data and analytics a top company priority

The majority of companies are already putting digital transformation at the forefront. Forbes Insights and Hitachi’s research shows that digital transformation is a priority for 50 percent of respondents. This focus is especially notable when it comes to how executives make investments that will benefit their organizations in the long term. The study found that, in addition to increasing their data and analytics capabilities, new technologies are the top investment priority of 51 percent of respondents for the next two years.

However, a not-so-small subset (49 percent) of companies still lags behind. In the years to come, this will be a huge differentiator between these organizations and their competitors as they rush to play catch up. This is because data, like a fine wine, improves in value over time. The more data an organization is able to collect and analyze over a longer period of time, the sharper their insights.

2. Design digital transformation around business goals
Forbes and Hitachi’s research also found that a changing business model was the top reason that 41 percent of respondents had begun the process of digital transformation. The availability of new technologies came second, driving 40 percent of respondents to digitize their businesses. This is likely due to the impact that digital disruption has made on a number of industries. Companies, such as Uber and Airbnb, seemingly transformed their industries overnight by leveraging cloud and mobile technologies to gain access to customers.

Savvy leaders are turning to digital transformation to modernize—before their industries are turned upside down. For instance, the ability to innovate was listed by 46 percent of survey respondents as the top metric used to measure the success of digital transformation, closely followed by revenue growth (46 percent) and cost reduction (43 percent).

3. Take an enterprise-wide approach
Digital transformation can’t be accomplished in a silo. Currently, the bulk of the work is carried out by IT teams—without the involvement of cross-function teams within the company. The focus on IT is partially because they were cited by 53 percent of Forbes and Hitachi’s survey respondents as the most prepared for digital transformation. Only a third of the survey respondents viewed other company functions as ready.

Instead of focusing solely on IT for digital transformation, companies should empower IT teams to collaborate with other departments on ways to digitize their systems. By partnering with other departments, IT teams can make an efficiency and revenue impact across the organization. If digital transformation continues to live in a silo, its effectiveness will remain limited.

4. Expand the role of IT

CIOs have a unique opportunity to grow and expand their influence within the organization. A survey from Gartner shows that 75 percent of executives expect digital to help double revenue. Digital transformation can give IT leaders an opportunity to expand their roles and oversee technology across the organization. To make this change, CIOs need to shift away from focusing just on operations and infrastructure to embracing a more consultative and collaborative role.

Much of IT spending happens outside of the IT department. When IT leadership oversees all technology spending, they gain a holistic view of what technology the company uses the most as well as redundancies and opportunities to innovate. IT leaders need to both manage traditional IT while also act as an advisor and guide for the rest of the company on what technologies and digital projects they should research and experiment.

5. Transform talent acquisition
The recruiting process at many organizations is one clear area where digital transformation and collaboration with IT can make a big difference for companies. Companies are constantly searching for the best talent, and it’s a challenge to find people with the right skill sets, especially when it comes to tech roles such as data science and DevOps. What’s more, the technology landscape constantly changes and there’s a high likelihood that this time next year, companies will seek people with an entirely different set of skills.

The right digital tools can help make the process of finding and connecting with candidates much easier. Solutions such as video conferencing for interviews, sharing job openings on social media, and leveraging LinkedIn make recruiting and interviewing much more efficient—and not just for the IT department. Teams across the company can hire top talent more easily and efficiently by digitizing their recruiting process.

6. Prioritize employee-friendly processes
Just as digital transformation can’t flourish in a silo, new procedures and technologies that aren’t employee friendly will also fall flat. Busy employees will only be frustrated by technologies they don’t know how to use or those that need constant troubleshooting. When this occurs, they simply return to the old way of doing things. Instead, IT leaders have to think like user-experience professionals and HR teams. They need to assess new technologies based on user-friendliness, as well as educate, train, and support employees when new technologies are implemented.

Digital disruption brings change, which can be uncomfortable for employees—especially team members who are used to the old system. It’s important to be understanding and patient. Setting the right tone is crucial. For instance, let employees know that a dip in productivity is expected while everyone adjusts to the new system. There are also many ways to make learning new technology more enjoyable for everyone. Holding new tech training with snacks, games, and prizes, and allowing for some time to let everyone socialize can help the team relax and have fun.

Conclusion
The growing interest and adoption of digital transformation by the business world has created new opportunities for IT leadership to evolve their roles within their organizations. This gives companies more access to tech leaders who can steer their business toward higher levels of productivity and efficiency, which can increase revenue and decrease costs. To do this, CIOs and IT professionals have to make a shift toward developing more strategic and consultative roles for themselves. This is the only way they can effectively partner with departments across the company to enact change and drive digital transformation.

The post 6 Ways CIOs Can Drive Digital Transformation and Lead Their Companies Toward Revenue appeared first on Application Performance Monitoring Blog | AppDynamics.

Basics of Client Device Convergence for Enterprises

When you start looking at the digital evolution of devices and technologies over the past 10 years there is one overarching topic: Technology & Device convergence!

A convergence is when two or more distinct things come together. Technology convergence is when different forms of technologies coexist in a single device, sharing resources and interacting, creating new technology and convenience. This simplistic definition is only the tip of the iceberg however because technology convergence is technical and functional. Two of the most common examples of convergence are taking pictures with a mobile phone — which combines the functionality of a camera and a telephone — and surfing the web on television, which brings a task normally associated with a computer to a TV. This trend was kicked off by the invention of the iPhone and some still argue, that Apple is still the master of consumer technology convergence.

Technology & device convergence is influencing users to accept new concepts and technologies more easily. Take something people know – let’s say a TV – and add video on demand. Rather than just watching it in your laptop people are now widely accepting the possibility to watch VoD rather than broadcast TV. Convergence pushes alliances between once isolated industries such as TV manufacturers, device manufacturer, and online video rentals.

A similar convergence happens in the mobile and desktop industry. Innovations like Samsung DeX are giving us a glimpse of the future of the workspace by creating a phone that can support a keyboard, mouse, and monitor. Essentially your phone with a docking station instantly becomes a complete computing solution for your desk. The monitor shows a full-screen desktop with Android apps, while the Galaxy S8 itself becomes a thin client for your workspace.

Add a VDI DeX client like tocario’s Dex optimized Android client (or VMware Workspace ONE) and you have a full feature thin client sitting in your pocket, where ever you go allowing you to access your corporate desktop and applications anywhere and any time.

This is a very good example of client device convergence by combining your phone (you will carry with you anyways) with a docking station and smart software technology to build a lean and intelligent B2B solution. For companies, the economics of making the enterprise smartphone the primary computing device for employees is very compelling.

Based on this idea tocario also implemented an iOS client that enables any iPhone or iPad to become a mobile workspace client including mouse and keyboard support as well as streaming to a screen via Airplay. As added functionality, the screen of the iPhone becomes a trackpad for a lean desk setup.

The benefits of convergence may be obvious. Everyone seems to approve when innovation makes our lives easier and saves lives, and when new technology allows us to do more with less. The benefits of technology convergence include:

  • Time-saving and cost-saving devices
  • Improving productivity and performance
  • Allows and encourages new ways to communicate
  • Encourages new product acceptance, as some of the functions are already well-known
  • Less siloed information with digital data needs solutions to safeguard corporate data
  • A single piece of technology simply does more and one set of infrastructure is cheaper to operate
  • Different price points can be addressed with essentially the same technology
  • Accessing workspaces and data on a wide range of devices

As client device convergence increases we will see higher adoption of Cloud Workspaces progressing into peoples lives. From an enterprise standpoint of view mobile device management, secure data stores and cloud workspaces to access the corporate workspace will be the standard set of applications rolled out to every employee.

The future Workplace in 2025

The dynamics of the Workplace are changing

In this modern age, globalisation has taken its effect and by its design we are now all interconnected and interdependent all the time, and from every part of the globe. Mobile data and information exchange is a constant. Even social coexistence and connectivity follows the new rules for flexibility and constant availability. People are more connected through technology today then ever in history. Almost everywhere on the globe, people are connected through their devices in one form or another. This kind of mentality has permeated the workplace, and there is now a constant desire for better technology and understanding of this interconnected world. “Hyperconnectivity” determines our life and work now and will have an even greater impact in the future.

The workplace in 2025

It is time for companies to realise this and take hold of their futures. If companies choose to not make plans for the future workplace, they will face increasing difficulties in recruiting new talent. They will also have to rethink their social and technological strategies in order to not get left behind, and stay ahead of the game. Therefore, we know that the future workplace will replace the known, unchanging hierarchies and departments with small, collaborative team networks. These are the findings of a study commissioned by Fujitsu from the independent European market research firm Pierre Audoin Consultants (PAC). The study “Workplace 2025” outlines the core issues that will change the workplace over the next eight years. It also outlines the recommended steps companies should consider to stay competitive.

Our new reality

The expectations of the workers are high: 79 percent complain that their workplace does not offer the necessary flexibility; 56 percent have higher safety requirements than are met; 49 percent are convinced that traditional jobs will disappear anyway and 24 percent want more accessibility, also from a technological point of view. There are companies such as tocario, that are working with the idea of creating a digital workplace, where flexibility and accessibility can be achieved.

Employers have already done a lot or planned to reform the work environment. 70 percent want to adjust their company policies. 60 percent oppose or already practice open innovation and crowdsourcing within the company. 30 percent want to invest in analysis tools and almost half can practically imagine working with digital virtual assistants like Amazon’s Alexa. Half of the employers want to implement use cases and environments that are based on consumer behavior. However, only 29 percent of employers want to allow their employees to use end devices of their own choosing. At the same time, end devices will determine how access to information is regulated, how it is shared and distributed securely, and how valuable content is created.

5 important changes in the future workplace 2025

Future workplace 2025Cross-generational workplace management and administration

One of the major changes that will affect the workplace of the future is demographic change. By 2025, a large number of millennials, those born between 1980 and 2000, and thus the so-called “digital natives” will enter the workforce, expecting a better work-life balance and an agile and compelling work environment. At the same time there are Generation X employees who are active in the company until the 1960s and who will work with technologies that will help age not be a hindrance to physical tasks. This diversity of employees in 2025, with their very different preferences and needs, also requires companies to make radical changes in education and development.

There will be greater movement and flexibility

The study recommends forcing the agility of the “limitless” workplace. In order to continue to be perceived as an attractive employer, companies should develop a contextual and personalized work environment that is tailored to the individual needs of the employee. At the same time, they should strengthen collegial cooperation through the implementation of new technologies, such as augmented reality or digital workspaces. The “Workplace 2025” report predicts that today’s organizational structures will become much more agile and adapt to ever-changing economic conditions, competitors and customer needs. The still prevailing rigid hierarchies and departments are being replaced by small, collaborative network teams of employees and external freelancers, which are linked by unified communication and collaboration platforms and supported by intelligent assistants.

Recruitment via crowdsourcing

 

CrowdsourcingThis increased flexibility not only affects the skills required in companies, but also the search for suitable employees. The study concludes that the fastest growing companies in 2025 will be able to quickly identify and develop skills from a global talent pool. Instead of hiring permanent employees for a particular role, the trend is toward global crowdsourcing of freelance talent. Teams of all sizes must be put together quickly and according to their needs. A reliable and flexible technology platform that enables employees to quickly authenticate with biometric data to gain access to the tools and systems they need is essential.

 

The blurring of borders between industries

The development and expansion of such networks also poses new challenges to the technologies required. External partners need access to centralized enterprise applications, and cross-enterprise data sharing makes an appropriate security solution essential. In terms of security, companies strive to strike the right balance between providing the tools and frameworks needed for good internal and external cooperation while effectively addressing the continuing threat of cybercrime. The workplace of the future, therefore, needs simple, easy-to-use and adaptive security tools that will not stand in the way of productivity – like Cloud Workspaces.

Companies must lean on technology partners and IT

As a result of these evolving needs, technology partners are expected to become increasingly important to companies in the future, helping them to manage these new, larger ecosystems and to advise them on other challenges, such as security issues and financial risks. This model of digital co-creation offers the potential of a much higher enterprise value than the market-dominant, rigid contract models. Of course, not all jobs will naturally change so radically. Nevertheless, many companies will have to react in order to be able to win or retain the young employees. It should be borne in mind that 20 percent of administrative employees who work in a modern and forward-looking manner are advancing 80 percent of productive employees in terms of increasing productivity and quality.

To find more interesting blogs, or to learn more about tocario and how it fits into the future workspace, click here.

 

Five benefits of working in your pyjamas

Getting up early, downing a cup of coffee, endless traffic jams, crowded public transport, dropping the kids at school – being in a constant rush in the morning sounds familiar to a lot of us and is deemed a constant stress factor.

According to psychologists the stress of commuting takes a toll on mental health and your social life. Don’t we all want to avoid that rush and start the day in a relaxing way? If you have the option to work from home, it can save you a lot of time. Apart from that, working from home has a lot more benefits, both for employees and for businesses.

Giving your employees the option to work from home can build trust and they tend to become more engaged. But to enable that, you need to make sure you have the right infrastructure and tools in place.

Read below how to get more out of your home office time:

The 5 Benefits:

Digital Workspace technologies make working from home very easy. The Digital Workspace is a collection of evolving technologies designed around your user’s needs that give them the space and freedom to work securely anywhere and on any device. It optimizes their experience and engagement with the tools and resources they need to help them be more effective and productive.

The most important benefits of Working From Home are:

  • Work wherever you are on any device – Work from anywhere and at any time where you get most motivated and inspired. Also, avoid traffic, less time commuting and save money on public transport or petrol.
  • Optimize experience and engagement with the tools and resources – Allow your employees to easily find and collaborate on documents, communicate easily and get on with their working day all from one easy-to-use interface
  • Work/life balance – having flexible work hours and incorporate social life into your working week more flexibly – spending less time commuting.
  • Increases productivity – according to a Standford study, 13% of employees who work from home are more productive. There is less distraction than at the office.
  • The Cloud – Cloud solutions offer a perfect way to have a centrally managed infrastructure of services that can be accessed anywhere and at any time. That means your data, applications and service come with you. With a digital workspace solution you have your full desktop and IT service experience following you where ever you are.

Work from anywhere on any device

At tocario we develop the technology needed to build the digital workspace. Just imagine your trusted desktop with all data and applications being available on any device.

You office environment is Windows – access it from your iPad sitting in your garden and get those Excel calculations done. Combined with modern communication  and collaboration tools like Google hangouts, Amazon Chime or Skype for Business you have a fully functional office right at your fingertips.

What business advantage can the Digital Workspace bring?

The Digital Workspace can save your business money in the long term.

Less overhead costs – having your employees working remotely means less overhead costs such as IT infrastructure expenses, office supplies and extra office space. According to a Forbes magazine report, American Express has not only improved employee productivity, but also saved between $10- $15 million annually in real estate costs.

Hire the best employees from all over the world – By allowing employees to work remotely, you can hire the best employees from all over the world.

Productive and efficient employees – at home your employees will have less distractions, which enables them to focus better on their work. Also, fewer breaks and fewer sick days can be the reason to boost productivity and efficiency.

Satisfied and engaged employees – tools like Skype for Business and Google Hangouts help employees stay connected with their colleagues. According to Harvard Business Review, 87% of remote workers feel more connected through the use of video conferencing.

Working from home gives our employees the freedom and flexibility to plan their work life and personal life.

When I take advantage of the home office I avoid the traffic jam in the morning which saves me time, and avoid the distractions at work which enables me to focus on what I need to do and be more productive.

Going Back to the Mainframe

Original Post on Medium by Tim Edwards (@tim_shane)

Decades ago, a young Bill Gates fought for access to code on a time-shared mainframe. A personal computer didn’t yet exist. Not for a lack of vision. Computing was far too expensive, and had little utility to offer the average family. When Gates graduated from Lakeside School in 1973, ‘personal computers’ were boards you built yourself after buying an Intel 8008 chip, and ran simple programs that you wrote yourself. Only a small (but quickly growing) group of hobbyists were involved in personal computing. The academic and business world fed their calculation needs to consoles with time purchased or reserved on a powerful processing machine.

“There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.”

Ken Olsen, founder of DEC, 1977

Perhaps the mistake Ken Olson made was not being more specific. Home computing was still a hobbyist domain. When PC power rose, and modern operating systems began to take form, the rest was history, and the mainframes gathered dust. Today, remote and local servers serve our PCs with fresh data through services and hardware made to run continuously, but they more closely resemble PCs with specifically robust hardware than the mainframes that came before them. At least they did.

With the rise in virtualization, containerization, and powerful distributed server networks from Google, Amazon, and Microsoft, more and more of our computing life is moving to the cloud. The PC is still ubiquitous, but sales of tablets, laptops, and desktops peaked in 2014. Our computing is moving to the cloud.

Virtualization of the Personal Computer

The rise in core-count and GPU power in servers has lowered the bar for even small businesses to virtualize their workstations and move computing to a single server system. A single server can now power over a 100 virtual desktops. These businesses can use cheap hardware known as thin clients to automatically connect users to their virtual hardware. The flexibility allows you to use multiple devices to connect to your ‘personal computer’. Your phone, your personal laptop, a hotel computer: All can fire up your virtual PC.

When you combine the rise of server networks like AWS and Azure, with the rize of PC virtualization, I see an inevitable rise of ‘desktop as a service’. Microsoft is uniquely positioned in this market. Owning the most popular operating system, Windows, and a rapidly growing server network, Azure, there is little in the way to renting your computer. They can even create a beautiful Surface thin client. In the not distant future, $20 a month and a small stick similar to a Chromecast, will connect you to your PC offering limitless hard disk space and a basic level of computing power. Like to play games? It will seem silly to buy a $500 graphics card when you can just spend an extra $15 a month and have graphics power added to your PC with a mouse click. Working on a project that requires intense calculations? Upgrade your computer for only as long as you need it. Amazon lets you rent a 64 core, 256gb RAM, 8 GPU server by the hour. A system that easily costs over $100,000 can be had for a few dollars per hour.

Renting time from a powerful central server? Sounds familiar.

As networks grow and become more reliable, more and more computing moves off-site. We are moving back to the mainframe model, but now it’s a personal mainframe. It isn’t Bell calculating account statements, it’s Google finding people in your photos. It’s Apple playing you music. The Chromebook comes close. The downside is that many people aren’t ready to live entirely on the web. Many need applications installed locally and I don’t see this changing soon. iTunes, Photoshop, video games and more require having a local file system to use. Having a cloud desktop is the answer.

Some of the biggest innovations I see in the next 5 years will be the creation and retooling of protocols and infrastructure to accommodate this change. Hardware manufacturers and vendors will struggle and resist, but we’ve seen this before. You can’t argue with the market trends. Price, ease, and reliability will win. If you would have told me a few years ago that I would love renting Office versus buying perpetual licenses, I wouldn’t believe you. After seeing the ease of management, reliability, and growing features, I’m a believer. Now, I want to rent the rest of my computing as well.

How disaster validates technology

Why Trojans and other threats are a catalyst for digital transformation

With all the recent news about the WannaCry trojan I was reminded about an interesting thing about the minds of people: They only start to act if disaster is about to happen — or in the case of WannaCry, already happened.

A short background on the setting I am working in: My company is building a technology for WorkSpace virtualization as an alternative solution to Citrix or VMware Horizon. It is deep technical Cloud Infrastructure Technology wich is delivered through Service Providers. Most people don’t ever get to see anything of the technology, but a lot of people work on it in their daily jobs. As with all virtual desktops obviously there was a major threat from WannaCry (or any other trojan) and a lot of systems have been affected at customers. Over the weekend we had some calls from our Service Providers, that their customers have been affected and if there was a way to easily resolve the problem.

This is when the difference in technologies and the solutions implemented had a huge impact on data security and data recovery. The Service Providers could recover the customer desktops within 60 minutes and the customers were happy.

The interesting part is what followed:

One Service Provider started communicating what had happened to its customer base and even very conservative and cautious customers suddenly started to have inquiries about the Digital WorkSpace that is offered. Obviously these customers have been struck by disaster and now learned the a new technology is nothing to be feared, but transforming the workspace is actually increasing security and availability.

Disaster nearly instantly changed the values, believes and perception of the customers regarding new technology, because the benefits exceeded uncertainty.