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Device Computing: The Wave Is Building

Editor's Note: The following is an excerpt from Chris Shipley's keynote at DEMOmobile 2003, held September 17-19, 2003, Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines, La Jolla, California. For the complete text, go to:

This is an amazing time to be working in the technology industry. Technology is driving significant change in our work and in our lives. Some change we notice, but much of it we do not.

In little more than 30 years, we've seen technology break out of its glass house to find a place on nearly every desktop in almost every business. Not only PCs, but also broadband Internet connections, have moved into homes of all economic standing, in all parts of the world. More breakneck is the transition of the desktop computing model that defined the last two decades to the device computing model that defines our future.

The proliferation of mobile computing and communications devices -- from cell phones, to PDAs, to systems embedded in everything from automobiles to soda machines -- this proliferation is causing dramatic change in our work, and in our lifestyles. It is forging change within the enterprise that must incorporate this new modality into the desktop, server, and networked environments from which it came.

It is driving change in the structure and locus of the workday.
No longer are we tied to our desks -- or for that matter to the traditional workday. It is driving change in behaviors, attitudes, and most critically, in expectations that you can always be available, wherever you are, whenever someone else wants to reach you.

It is driving change that is occurring more quickly, I think, than popular culture, public policy, social manners, and perhaps even business can assimilate.

Coincident or not, this transformation from enterprise desktop to individual device computing comes at a time of economic pressure that has forced businesses to rethink and reform their processes and practices. I.T. organizations, especially, have been hard-pressed to drive down cost and complexity while leveraging available technologies against critical business needs.

Not surprisingly for this crowd, mobile technology is the primary lever. Mobile technology enables a fundamental shift in the way in which businesses are able to organize. Amid the pressure to reduce fixed costs, technology -- especially mobile technology -- allows the enterprise to extend to and tightly couple with its partners. This allows a new model for business organization, centered on a relatively small core surrounded by trusted suppliers and partners.

The top-down, vertically integrated enterprise is a dinosaur, and mobility and ubiquity of connectivity are the tar pits that will consume old business paradigms and enable next-generation, knowledge-based organizations to evolve. . .

New demands of business are driving real change in how technology is deployed, leveraged, and integrated into the fabric of business life. These demands go far, far beyond maintaining system uptime and supporting desktop users. These demands insist that the enterprise computing environment extends to include people and processes beyond the comfortable confines of the corporate campus. These demands place a premium on automation, authentication, and security without sacrificing convenience and usability. And as enterprise systems extend to incorporate partners and practitioners, so then do these businesses place greater expectations on their technology providers to deliver convenient, capable, value-focused solutions to them. Smart technology companies must become more adept at selling to and servicing small business customers, who in time will be the primary definition of the business technology user.

So much change is not confined to the workplace. At home, mobility and communications are having a profound impact on our relationships. The tech industry is fond of talking about "always available, always on" networks -- referring, presumably, to servers, routers, PCs, and devices. In reality, the ubiquitous network is a reflection and requirement of the individuals who have become the always-on nodes at the end of every connection.

We have become "always on people." Always on people are changing the nature of work and play, not so much by extending its hours -- although we know that is happening, too -- but by blending the workday with the personal day. Forget 9-to-5. Work will happen when it needs to happen. Forget some "Leave It To Beaver" definition of "family time." Family time will be any time we make time for our family relationships, and not when the boss allows it. . .

Myriad changes will flow as always on people change the nature of work and play. Corporate HR policies will be rewritten. Retirement will be redefined. Everything from vacation policy to tax law and social security will be revisited. And all this change is driven by technology -- by the seeping of technology from computer rooms to desktops to the palms of your hands. . .

The next wave is just beginning to swell. . . Indeed, DEMOmobile comes at a pivotal moment. Technology and economic circumstances have been the catalyst for change -- change that we are just beginning to see and understand. We are at the turning point as technology fully transforms from enterprise desktop computing to individual device computing. This shift forces change in so many parts of our lives . . .

For more coverage of DEMOmobile 2003, go to:

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DEMO is known coast-to-coast as the premier event that reveals the products and services poised to have the greatest impact on the technology landscape in the year to come. Each year, the nation's top technology executives, venture investors, journalists, and analysts converge at DEMO to preview and understand the emerging products and technologies that are impacting their market segments.

The search is on for the 75 products that will be honored as the most significant technology introductions of 2004. These carefully selected products enjoy the benefit of media attention, investor inquiry, and the imprimatur of the elite DEMO status.

If you are working on technology worthy of the DEMO platform, go to and click on "Launch at DEMO 2004." Applications are being accepted through October.

DEMO 2004
February 15 - 17, 2004
Westin Kierland Resort
Scottsdale, Arizona

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The issue of securing XML transactions has led to funding for one start-up. Forum Systems gathered up $17.5 million in Series B backing to continue its work in adding security to Web services. The company says that there is a tremendous danger of exposing confidential data with today's XML content, but it is creating products that will solve this problem. GMG Capital led the financing, which included investments from CMS Companies and Navigator Fund . . .

Another start-up is also raking in the funding. TeleSym landed $12.5 million in its second round investing. The company lets computer users on WiFi networks make voice calls. The technology works with either PDAs or laptops. Intel Communications Fund and Siemens Venture Capital led the financing. Intel said it participated because it sees voice as a critical application for WiFi . . .

The Segway has been called in for repairs - a software upgrade. The legendary scooter is said to be encountering problems when the battery runs low. Segway said in its recall statement: "Under certain operating conditions, particularly when the batteries are near the end of charge, some Segway HTs may not deliver enough power, allowing the rider to fall. This can happen if the rider speeds up abruptly, encounters an obstacle, or continues to ride after receiving a low-battery alert." Owners are encouraged to call Segway for information about the upgrade.

Chris Shipley is the executive producer of NetworkWorld's DEMO Conferences, Editor of DEMOletter and a technology industry analyst for nearly 20 years. She can be reached at Shipley, has covered the personal technology business since 1984 and is regarded as one of the top analysts covering the technology industry today. Shipley has worked as a writer and editor for variety of technology consumer magazines, including PC Week, PC Magazine, PC/Computing, and InfoWorld, US Magazine and Working Woman. She has written two books on communications and Internet technology, has won numerous awards for journalistic excellence, and was named the #1 newsletter editor by Marketing Computers for two years in a row. To subscribe to DEMOletter please visit:

This column was reprinted with permission of Network World Inc. All registered trademarks are owned by IDG. More information can be found at

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