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Zombie PCs, Restaurant Apps and Automation: This Week in Enterprise Mobility

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1. PCs Aren’t Dead …

Yet, anyway. That’s according to Intel, which boosted its forecast for personal computer sales for the first time in five years last week. Business buyers are driving this increase, which lifted Intel’s stock price seven percent and is expected to produce an extra $700 million in revenue for the chip maker. Of course, as we learned from Mary Meeker’s recent Internet Trends Report, tablet purchases are currently increasing faster than PC adoption ever did, with 52 percent growth in sales in 2013. While PCs may be around for a while longer, it’s clear people are looking for new, more mobile ways to access the data that powers everything from work to entertainment.

2. Restaurants Want a Slice of the Mobile Pie

Chain restaurants are barging into the mobile game in force. BJ’s Restaurants Inc., which operates 148 casual dining restaurants across the U.S., has built an app to cater to busy diners who want to order ahead and have their food ready when they arrive. The company leveraged in-house development talent and built it in a low-cost, agile manner, with the goal of getting it in front of customers as quick as possible to gather feedback and iterate. We love to see companies in less tech-savvy industries making wise mobile investments, and BJ’s certainly has the right idea. Meanwhile, Chili’s is testing out tablets on the table, intended to entertain diners, allow them to pay on the spot and gather more feedback from customers. It’s a great example of marketing and IT coming together to make something that’s greater than the sum of its parts: a mobile experience with benefits for the business and its customers. Not to be outdone, McDonald’s just opened a corporate office in Silicon Valley, hoping to lure in more digital talent. The move should help them gain the resources they’ll need to roll out mobile payments in the U.S. and internationally, along with other initiatives designed to keep pace in our increasingly mobilized world.

3. IT’s Next Big Opportunity? Optimizing for Change

Venture Capitalist Vinod Khosla gave a talk at GigaOm Structure this week about enterprise IT, arguing that companies need to start thinking about their infrastructure in terms of “planning not to plan.” As Khosla points out, what has changed more than anything is the rate of change. Historically, IT departments have optimized for performance and cost. But Khosla believes that, today, infrastructures need to be optimized for change if you want your business to be able to adapt and survive. As we’ve already seen with mobile, the faster pace and need for modularity are some of the factors having a huge impact on the kinds of infrastructure needed to be successful. In other words, for today’s enterprises, it’s time to get comfortable with change (and organize for velocity.)

4. Enterprise Mobile Apps Driving Employee Productivity

Long gone are the days of being inaccessible while away from your desk. With the number of strictly mobile workers set to reach 1.3 billion in 2015, the need has never been greater for purpose-built, productivity-enhancing mobile apps in the workplace. In fact, a recent study says that using apps for work can boost productivity by as much as 34 percent. Of course, to realize these kinds of productivity gains, businesses need to build apps that combine elegant design with a user-friendly experience. The apps need to balance function with simplicity and enable “micromoments” of productivity that are enjoyable for employees and beneficial for the business. And to keep app development costs from spiraling out of control, businesses need to lean on cross-platform development and functional APIs that make it easy to build powerful new apps efficiently.

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