In the November 2010 issue of “Redmond Channel Partner” magazine, Paul DeGroot, a senior analyst at an independent research firm commented on an aspect of Microsoft’s product development trajectory and how it relates to the partner community that supports Redmond.  He states:

Assume that before the end of this decade, a new computing device will either include or will automatically connect to a full set of hosted applications and maintenance services that regularly update its capabilities and fend off malware and configuration errors.  The device may even be “free,” when you subscribe to all the applications and services

Of course, he is talking about a computer and all of the requisite add-ons that make up our daily existence.  In the present case, that would include the operating system, the desktop office suite, the e-mail client, the web browser, a security product, and any other software we install to perform one function or another on our PCs.

I have always stressed that it is important to be mindful of what is installed on your computer.  I also insist that you make sure that all of your software is kept current to ensure you reduce the possibility of being adversely affected by malware.  These are key reasons that Heliotropic Systems offers SPF plans for home users and SHADE plans for small businesses.  This software takes care of several often mundane tasks that most people tend to ignore, or do not realize they need to perform.

Yet, after I read DeGroot’s article a second time, I believe his example of a future device doesn’t resemble a computer at all, but something else that everyone uses on a daily basis – a cell phone!

Over time, technology that was affordable only by large corporations has become more prevalent in the small business and even consumer space.  Two of the more popular offerings are online back-up and online e-mail.  These are exemplified by companies such as Carbonite and Mozy, and Google with its Gmail offering.  These companies tend to talk about their products use of “the cloud,” which is nothing more than another way of saying “on the Internet.”

Today the trend is for software vendors is to create their product so that it runs on the Internet instead of directly on your desktop.  This means that you no longer have to install software, you simply point your favorite web browser to a URL and sign on to your account.  While you do not need to install these products, they all require some kind of constant Internet connection.

And, to carry the analogy just a little bit further, when you buy a cell phone, you automatically get a variety of applications and can purchase more through your phone vendor’s online store.  Most of these apps are updated automatically when your cell phone is on.  You don’t have to worry about making sure the updates take place – Verizon, or AT&T or Sprint take care of that for you.

As DeGroot concludes:

I can’t predict what the partner role will be, except that there will be one.  Someone needs to make devices, applications that run on them, systems that connect them to applications.  Someone needs to guide businesses through a myriad of choices and rescue those businesses from bad decisions.

Perhaps most important, someone needs to map hardware and software against human needs and wants, and help people and businesses integrate the digital landscape with people, process, and products.  Those skills will be as rare and valuable a decade from now, just as they are today.

I thought it was very fitting to reflect on these words just before we celebrate Thanksgiving.  Because it is my sincere belief that Heliotropic Systems is in business to help people – both home users and small businesses – use the technology they have so that they can do what they want in the best and safest manner.  No matter what device they are using.