Steve. Thank you.

Words cannot express…just…thank you.

iPad Likes to Play But Playbook Means Business

As I’ve said many times before, I love my iPad and it’s great as a consumer device. As much as we like to mock early proclamations of the iPad being magical, put an iPad in the hands of a six-year old and few words can truly capture that experience than to say it is “magical.” The iPad is intuitive, engaging, and invites the user to touch it. Within a few gestures a child has mastered the device and parents are left awestruck as to how “brilliant” their child is. Sorry, folks, that’s just kids being kids and speaks more about the brilliant design and marketing teams at Apple than your kid being a savant.
That being said, I doubt the iPad will ever become a replacement device for me at work. Putting the security flaws aside for a moment, there are several major gaps that keep the iPad from being the only device in my bag.

  1. Native sharing of files between devices.
  2. Flash.
  3. True multi-tasking.
  4. Smaller form-factor.

I’ll explore these topics further in my next article: 5 Things My Playbook Can Do That My iPad Can’t. For the Apple fanboys out there who are lining up to jump all over me, that’s great if you’ve found Nirvana with the iPad. Bully for you. I’m saying it won’t work for me in my business bag and I suspect, a few others.
Yes, I carry an iPhone. Dammit if I can resist the juggernaut that is the Apple App Store. I’m there because the Developers are. If those Developers ever went somewhere else, that’s where I’d be. Keep that in mind, Developers. You hold the power, not Apple. Have we learned nothing from the Music Industry? I read a recent stat somewhere that a Developer might–might–make $10,000 a year on Apple Store. You can quickly figure this out just doing the math. Apple proudly trumpeted recently they’ve paid more than $1B out to Developers. With over 200,000 apps that means an average of $5K. Even if you say half the apps are free, that leaves you with $10K. You know your time is worth way more than that, right?
But I also carry the ‘Berry. For all my colleagues that pooh pooh my choice to carry both devices, spend your days hopping between Developer events, texting, tweeting, and checking emails and when your iPhone has died after 2 hours my Blackberry will race on like a champ. What good is that famed Retina Display if you have to keep it on half power (and it will still die before my Bold)? Don’t even get me started on the left-handed grip of death issue.
For business messaging there is still no better solution than Blackberry. Period. No qualifiers. End of discussion. So imagine my high hopes for RIM’s Playbook. Before you criticize the Playbook for its shortcomings, consider a few things:

  1. Playbook was always conceived as a companion device. It expands its customers capabilities without sacrificing security. Since IT departments the world over–government and military included–have blessed the Blackberry and have long experience with the device, it will be a little while before they will gain that sort of confidence with RIM’s new QNX OS. And I do hope they get there. But for now, bridging email from the Playbook to your Blackberry works fantastically and keeps the InfoSec guys happy. That’s why there’s no native email client.
    I do think that RIM will quickly reconsider their choice for not having an email client. Having a bunch of web shortcuts for GMail, Yahoo Mail, and Hotmail on your Playbook desktop is weak sauce. Users will quickly demand it and you could easily provide both options (client for non-work-secured emails, bridge for work-restricted access).
    Ask most security-sensitive employers about their use of iOS devices in their workplace and either they are strictly verboten or are crippled to the point that it is essentially useless.
  2. This is just the first generation of the Playbook. True, on the one hand I would think that if your competitor has a 2-gen lead on you, you would at least launch with parity, but I’m willing to forgive a bit. The Playbook screen orientation detection is much slower than recent versions of iOS, but I contend not visibly noticeable from the original iOS implementation. The same holds true for some of the swipe responsiveness on the Playbook. On this one, I will fault RIM a bit. Come on, guys, you can do better than this.
  3. Playbook ain’t for you. For now, the bleeding edge adopters will put it through its paces. We’ll eagerly await each firmware update and applaud each improvement. We’ll convince our colleagues (and IT departments) why Playbook will be the way to go. All RIM has to do is deliver.

So word to the wise, RIM, hang in there. Remember, you aren’t competing with Apple. You’re trying to make the best product that remains true to your core value proposition. You’re trying to respond to those who already love the Blackberry and remain loyal (but who will jump ship to iPad if you don’t deliver). Blackberry’s still outnumber iPhone devices. Don’t bet so big on this first launch. You’ve got a few iterations to get through before we can bring the others along. You’ll make up for it when the USPS outfits every mail carrier with one of your Playbooks or when you sign your Kaiser Permanente deal so all their doctors can slip one into their lab pocket (which you can’t do with the iPad).
I’ve got a few more articles to write to share my evolving thoughts about the Playbook. For now, I will say that it isn’t ready for the masses. For the technophiles looking for a new toy. It is worth a look. Start with the 16GB and keep your money for the next version. Especially for those of us who lament Samsung’s discontinuation of the 7″ Tab (why, Samsung, why?). I remain as optimistic now, having used the Playbook for over a week, as I was when it was first announced. Keeping my faith and earning that trust will really depend on RIM’s ability to deliver on apps. You live and die by apps, Playbook. Opening up to Android apps was critically smart. Failing to port every Blackberry app to Playbook at launch was not. Beyond improving responsiveness, beyond improving the hardware, you will be judged by apps. Hurry.

How You Can Save Your Company $2,000,000 in Just 5 Minutes

In my last article, I wrote about kaizen, a Japanese business philosophy of constant improvement. I’d like to follow up on that discussion with a brief demonstration of how even seemingly small changes can have a huge effect on your business.

How can you save your company $2,000,000 in just 5 minutes? Follow along to see how.

It takes my laptop 14 minutes to startup. That’s from the moment I press the power button to the time I am able to launch my first email in Outlook. Even if you subtract for XP itself, that’s a long time. I am not your typical user: I defrag my machine often, explicitly shut off non-essential services, map only one network drive, have wifi explicitly disabled, and put nothing in my startup folder except for the aforementioned Outlook. Oh, and I’ve done most of the recommended tweaks to get XP to boot faster. So where does the rest of the time come from? All the stuff my company does to make sure my laptop is secure, has its updates, and whatever else is in the standard image.

Don’t get me wrong, this is important stuff and I support it whole-heartedly. But consider this, what if a VP walked over to the IT department and said: “Guys, find a way to shave 5 minutes off the system boot times while keeping the systems secure and I’ll pay you a $5000 bonus.” Watch how fast those minutes disappear.

14 minutes. Big whoop, right? Chillax, press start, go grab a cup of coffee, and when you come back you’re ready to go. Okay, smart guy, what if I’m in the middle of a critical 30-minute meeting with the CFO and my laptop requires a restart? ‘Cause that never happens on Windows, right? So there goes half my meeting there.

What would happen if IT just shaved off 5 of those minutes?

  • Average Salary in the United States: $44,000
  • Per hour that works out to (40 hr/week, 50 weeks): $22
  • Per minute that is: $0.37
  • For 5 minutes: $1.85
  • For the year (5 min/day x 5 days/week x 50 weeks/year): $462.50
  • For a company of 5000 employees: $2.3M

That’s what 5 minutes means. Backup for a second, Serge, that’s great for large companies but what about smaller companies? Okay, take a 25-person outfit, with an average of $15/hr:

  • Cancel one unnecessary 30-minute meeting each month ($2250)
  • If half are parents who usually leave 15 minutes early to pick up their kids, provide onsite daycare (still at the employees’ expense) ($11250)
  • Save 2 minutes by reducing just 5 emails ($3000)
  • Provide computers that boot just 1 minute faster ($1500)

That’s $18000 right there.

Yes, yes, it’s a bit of a leap to say that this saves the company in real terms because you won’t actually see that in the bottom line. Okay, so quantify for me how much work-related stress does cost the company. What are the recruitment and training costs of retaining and having to re-hire talent due to attrition? What is the value of being recognized as one of the best companies to work for? Measure for me the lost opportunity costs of all those minutes added up when said employees could be working on other things in a state of peace and tranquility.

That is the point of kaizen. A relatively simple idea of reducing the amount of time it takes for a computer to restart can create a culture capable of constant improvement. This is the type of environment that nurtures employees who will think of that huge cost savings or that next multi-million dollar revenue stream.

Have time-saving ideas for your company? Share in the comments section below. Play around with the Kaizen Calculator to see how much your company could be saving.

Oh, and you probably could have read this article 8 times in the time it took me to restart my laptop.