Mobile Apps: The Wave of the Future Is Upon Us -- Ride It, Don't Get Caught on the Inside

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In this Issue

In this issue:
Monday, August 1, 2011 - 00:00

"Many are calling the advent of apps a revolution, as important as the arrival of the personal computer."

-- Gabriele Piccoli, Editor

A few days ago, a friend of mine (let's call him Ned in deference to the famed Ned Ludd) told me he had just bought an Android phone and, rather skeptically, asked me how many apps I use. I had never really thought about it too thoroughly, but I started rattling off things I do in my average day. I wake up to the sound of an alarm from an app called iHome, then roll over, half-conscious, and tap my email app. I assess how my day will be (I have a theory about good days and bad days: an email that emits an instant negative response in the morning is a reliable, tell-tell sign that your day will be going downhill). Once I have, more or less, understood what went down in my world while I was asleep, I tap the weather app to see what the day will be like (and also usually look at the weather in Ithaca, New York, where I used to live for a few years). I smile thinking that the weather in my current home is far better than it is in Ithaca, and I get up. Before jumping into the shower, I tap a streaming radio app (the news channel or a rock and roll station, depending on the mood that my first read email brought about).

OK, I won't bother you further with the play-by-play of my daily routine. But the last thing I want to say about it is that it's very different from what it was three years ago, and is constantly evolving as new apps spring up. Readers of Cutter Benchmark Review are quite sophisticated, so I hardly need to state the obvious. But the one device that follows me in my daily routine is ... a phone! Though, as you know, it is not really a phone. It's a microcomputer (as we used to call them back in the day) in the shape of a handheld device that's really just a 58 mm x 115 mm screen (2.3 inches x 4.5 inches). Like me, millions of people around the world have app-enabled morning routines (or app-enabled any other aspect of their life). One statistic, highlighted by this issue's practitioner contributor, will suffice: "mobile consumers have downloaded more than 28 billion apps from Apple's App Store and Google's Android Market" -- 28 billion! In fact, many are calling the advent of apps a revolution, as important as the arrival of the personal computer. How ironic that we have started to call such app-running devices as smartphones and tablets, the post-PC devices. Given today's heightened awareness and revolutionary swing of this topic, of course the CBR crew had to focus on it.

Ironically, we have a major transitional topic for a (certainly not major!) transition issue of CBR. We are benchmarking the use of apps to understand the transition from the PC to the post-PC era while, at the same time, CBR transitions to a new editor. This is, in fact, the last issue under my guidance, as I pass the CBR torch to the talented mind of Joseph Feller, one of the best contributors during my tenure (for my personal farewell and best wishes, see the Conclusion later in this issue).

To help me make my last issue of CBR one to remember, we have a great topic and a group of A-list contributors whom you already know. Our academic perspective comes from a trio of scholars: Pierre Berthon from Bentley University (USA) along with Leyland Pitt and Kirk Plangger from the Beedie School of Business at Simon Fraser University (Canada). The collective insight that these three provide is invaluable. Pierre and Leyland are both seasoned academics with decades of insight and experience teaching, researching, and publishing on various topics related to information systems, technology use, marketing, social media, and the general business world. They have already contributed to CBR with their piece "IS Executives: Organizational Focus, Customer Creativity, and Supplier Relationships" (Vol. 8, No. 8).

This issue's from-the-trenches perspective comes from Maria Lee. Maria has more than 15 years of management experience on projects involving Internet technologies, and she specializes in Web 2.0 collaboration solutions. She is also a returning Cutter contributor having authored "Count Me In: Citizen Crowdsourcing Is Creating a New Data Dialogue with the US Government" in a recent Cutter IT Journal (Vol. 24, No. 6).

Pierre, Leyland, and Kirk begin their piece with some truly mind-bending numbers surrounding the use of smartphones and the mobile applications market worldwide. Although by now we have all witnessed firsthand this increased use as part of our daily interactions in the world, seeing the actual numbers brings the reality of the current situation in sharp focus. Very valuable for me is also the comparison the authors offer between the personal computer and mobile devices. How much are business organizations currently using smartphone applications? Where are these apps being created and developed, by whom are they being developed, and how successfully are they being used? Pierre, Leyland, and Kirk address these questions fully. I think you will enjoy the clarity with which they discuss their findings as well as the coherent analysis they provide on a topic that, perhaps because of its rapid growth and evolution, the media often discusses confusingly.

Next, Maria gives us a straightforward piece that moves from a discussion of effective mobile IT use in general to specific suggestions for developing your own best practice. Tying the survey results in with her expert analysis throughout, Maria discusses how best to embrace mobile strategy and adapt to its quickly evolving nature. In addition to her many relevant examples, I think you will find the specific and actionable suggestions that Maria uses to close her piece to be instrumental in focusing your own thinking and in incorporating mobility in your own firm's IT strategy.

As it has been the norm in my tenure as CBR editor, our goal is to provide you with data-driven expert opinions from both the academic and field perspectives. I hope you'll agree that my team and I have lived up to your expectations one last time before passing the baton to Joe's expert hands.

ABOUT THE EDITOR

Many are calling the advent of apps a revolution, as important as the arrival of the personal computer. How ironic that we have started to call such app-running devices as smartphones and tablets, the post-PC devices. Given today's heightened awareness and revolutionary swing of this topic, of course the CBR crew had to focus on it. In this issue, we are benchmarking the use of apps to understand the transition from the PC to the post-PC era.