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November 2005

8:00 am: You are on the street corner waiting for the bus.

You stare into space as the traffic whizzes by.

10:05 am: The host of your next meeting is late and you are waiting for it to start.

You look into your hand-written notes from last week’s meeting and wonder why you didn’t act on any of the good ideas you had. Mental note to self to get more done.

12:35 pm:You are on your lunch break waiting for the waitress to arrive with your order.

You look around the café to see if there is a discarded newspaper lying on any of the tables. A slight feeling of panic starts to rise in your chest. You kick yourself for not having printed out your Outlook calendar for the day because you can’t remember whether or not you have a meeting at 1:00 or 1:30. After your food finally arrives, you nervously check your watch and scarf down your lunch in record time to be back in the office at 1:00… just in case.

November 2015

8:00 am: You are on the street corner with 1 minute to go until your Uber ride shows up.

You use your smartphone to approve 4 workflow items while you are waiting.

10:05 am: The host of your next meeting is late dialing into the virtual meeting.

In the ensuing 5 minutes, you catch up on the progress of a different project and sync with colleagues on next steps.

12:35 pm:Your lunch is ready the moment you walk into the café because the app on your phone pre-ordered your meal.

While you are eating, you read an article on Flipbook that gives you amazing inspiration to solve a pressing problem at work. You share the article with colleagues and set up a time to discuss your idea with them. After that, you do your week’s grocery shopping on the Google Shopping app on your smartphone. Fantastic! That took 5 minutes and saved you two hours of driving around to Costco, Whole Foods and Target. You leave the café just in time to make your 1:00 meeting.

November 2025

8:00 am: Honestly. No idea.

10:05 am: Can’t really say.

12:35 pm: You will probably still be having lunch, but the rest is impossible to predict.

The above scenarios are indeed too hard to project in a future 10 years from now. (If you would like to give it a try, by all means do so in the comments section at the end of this article!) But what is clear is that advances in mobile technology today are allowing us to use time away from our desks much more flexibly. A connection to the internet while we are on the go enables us to take care of private things and business matters when it best fits for us, as individuals. We can do our shopping in 5 minutes in-between meetings; we can also do 5 minutes of email from the couch at home.

It’s a fact of business that more and more people are traveling as part of their work. Service technicians, sales people, and managers spring to mind. But more than that, a large percentage of employees in many industries are simply moving around their place of work and are often away from their desks (if they even have one) − employees meeting in conference rooms, inventory managers taking stock of the storeroom, doctors making rounds to visit patients, etc. Technological advances in mobility (and with that I implicitly also mean wearable computing), will allow short burst of very productive usage in certain key scenarios. In these moments, connected mobility will make users much more effective than they would be at a computer on their desk. Smartwatches take dictation while we are driving. Google glasses seamlessly support warehouse workers in identifying misplaced inventory and direct them to the right shelf. From their iPad, doctors unobtrusively get an ultra-up-to-date profile of the next patient on their rounds as they move from one hospital room to another.

The mobile enterprise of 10 years from now will experience an astronomical, albeit unimaginable, increase in productivity and flexibility. And I am convinced that wearable computing will play a leading role in that development. But to really time warp here and wrap things up, I’d like to go back 25 years to this 1990 interview with Steve Jobs for the film, Memory & Imagination: New Pathways to the Library of Congress. In this excerpt from the movie, Jobs states,

“I think one of the things that really separates us from the high primates is that we’re tool builders. I read a study that measured the efficiency of locomotion for various species on the planet. The condor used the least energy to move a kilometer. And, humans came in with a rather unimpressive showing, about a third of the way down the list. It was not too proud a showing for the crown of creation. So, that didn’t look so good. But, then somebody at Scientific American had the insight to test the efficiency of locomotion for a man on a bicycle. And, a man on a bicycle, a human on a bicycle, blew the condor away, completely off the top of the charts.

And that’s what a computer is to me. What a computer is to me is it’s the most remarkable tool that we’ve ever come up with, and it’s the equivalent of a bicycle for our minds.”

My belief is that mobile computing, and by extension the mobile enterprise, will take that human on a bicycle to the next level. Currently we are on the cusp of a great transformation. Mobile computing has brought productivity and flexibility in many small ways and in some bigger ways. But I do ask myself how these tools that we are creating can transform our lives in massively meaningful ways.

This was quite a long post, so I’ll stop here with one question to you. What are your ideas for how we can work collectively to take advantage of these tools to really soar?

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