Bulletin 14 September 2018. On mobile apps, engagement and human nature

When vertical becomes horizontal

How quickly we forget? Not that quickly, in the case of one large vendor, who (as of last year) was still looking at how it could somehow stave off the threat of consumerisation. That’s where employees have mobile phones and other paraphernalia, in some cases better than corporate kit, and so they start setting expecta… what, you mean, you knew already?

The world has moved on, faster than you can say “bring your own device strategy.” Even as I chatted today, with the head of a big department at a major consumer-facing organisation, I realised how old-hat my phrasing had become. Ostensibly, the conversation was about mobile apps, but I was quickly put to rights.

Not very long ago, this was how we articulated things: “You need an app.” Of course, all knew that the phrase was a consequence of how things stood — nobody needs an app as an end in itself, but having an app is a reflection of how well an organisation understands its user base. Simply put, if everyone is on a mobile device, best to adopt the interface du jour. 

Trouble is, that’s no longer true (if it ever was, even if transient). We’ve moved from not having mobile devices at all, to them becoming the sharp end of customer engagement, to… to a point where they are recognised as just one interface among others, including face to face, phone, web site and whatever else comes along. 

Which brings to the point, that it was never about the device. More, as was pointed out, it’s about delivering a service at the point of need: if the best way to reach someone is via a phone, or a retina display, or a billboard, or a customer service rep, so be it. The smarter you can get at understanding the notion of engagement, the more engagement you will have.

Which is what it’s all about. A few years ago, when I became bored of talking about technology for its own sake, I turned my attention to the human. Either, I thought, tech will make us something we are not, or it will make us something more than we are, or it will augment our lives in some way. Whatever it does, I decided, the latter category — augmentation — is the most likely. 

In other words, and at least in the short term, the goal is to consider the all-too-human end before the means (for better or worse: “We are only… human.”). When I think about technology’s impact, in my head I like to position it against how we behaved when we lived in straw-hutted villages, as some still do. How ever much you add or take away, augment or diminish, it’s all about people. 

I was about to “go off on one” about the future, but we should remain grounded in both the present, and the past. We are seeing so much change, but I am yet to see any deviation from what we might call human nature. While this might come as a disappointment, it is perhaps fundamental.

Which brings to an article for this week. 

Could DevOps exist without cloud models?

I calculated I have spent 106 hours on the DevOps report I finished today. Is it complete? No, by its nature, as the sand is shifting under its feet. But it exists, whereas before it did not. So, that’ll do. Here’s yet another articlecontaining some thoughts on the topic. 

All the best, Jon

Also published on Medium.

Bulletin 14 September 2018. On mobile apps, engagement and human nature

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