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Time Warp

It’s fun sometimes to play the Time Warp game. Here we go!

  • In the 60s: We used modems to sit at terminals and desktops provided to us to connect to the corporate mainframe. Today: Wireless connects the multiple devices we carry to the world … what’s a modem?
  • The 60s: Tenured / tenure-track positions comprised > 78% of the faculty. Today: Contingent faculty make up nearly half of today’s faculty – in community colleges often 70-80%.
  • The 60s: Students didn’t have computers to bring to campus. Today: They all bring laptops. And smartphones.
  • The 60s: Cool people brought lined, spiral tablets to class while the geeks carried special engineering spiral pads. Today: A different kind of tablet visits campus!
  • The 60s: If there was any software a student could use, he had to run it with Hollerith punch cards and scheduled run time on the mainframe. Today: What’s a mainframe? Classes require student use of specialized learning tools, many of needed on laptops.
  • The 60s: There were less than a dozen software programs supporting an entire campus. Today: How about dozens supporting each department?!
  • The 60s: Individualized software – impossible! Today: A CIO has to worry about individualized software and all of the above.

Now it’s all about the heterogeneous campus – from the consumer devices individuals bring to the software they need.

Trouble is, most IT departments today lack adequate tools to manage this diversity. And most IT departments aren’t growing. As someone recently observed, it’s not really about doing more with less. It’s about doing a lot more with the same.

IT was supposed to be the great enabler. But how will that happen if your talented IT staff are installing a Windows update on a new faculty member’s laptop? Handling one-off problems – these are the bane of any IT department wanting to make a real difference.

Until now. Apporto allows IT to create a college app store-like website where students, faculty, and staff help themselves to software they need and want. If your constituencies can help themselves, what can your IT staff do with all the extra time? Our answer: The can be the enablers – those mentors, guides, and consultants – they were intended to be!

It’s not the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, or even 2000s anymore. It doesn’t have to be.



Students and faculty are arriving on campus carrying a lot more than laptops, smart phones, and tablets! These devices carry user expectations along with them. Ask any CIO and s/he will tell you that it’s the expectations their campus constituencies bring onto campus that present their greatest challenge.

When one-seventh of the world’s population now owns a smart phone, when most students arriving on campus bring a laptop, when instruction is moving increasingly online, when the concept of an app store has changed how every one of us thinks about access to knowledge – consider for a moment the expectation-set that this technological capacity carries with it for the typical user/consumer:

  • I have a right to access the world’s information at my fingertips
  • I have a right to be always connected
  • I have a right to be educated in the ways of the world – the technological world we live in ….

CIOs know this. 98% of the CIOs surveyed in the Leadership Board for CIOs in Higher Education Survey in 2013 reported that ‘consumerization is significantly or moderately affecting their institution.’

And by the way, consumerization is more than hardware alone: It’s the increasingly abundant smorgasbord of software that institutions needing to stay current with the technological world feel they must provide their constituencies. For institutions, it’s a matter of being relevant in a dramatically changing world.

How’s a CIO supposed to cope with this?

  • Well, we can say this for sure: The CIO can’t cope with it using methods that barely worked in the past – e.g.,
  • where adjunct faculty stop by one-by-one with their out-of-date laptop
  • where people wait while their help desk ticket makes the rounds
  • where effective use of tools in the classroom is compromised because individual computers can’t be properly configured
  • where software license restrictions aren’t well monitored
  • where constituencies aren’t fully aware of the software available to them
  • etc

The CIO’s answer to automation must lie in automation itself. This is the only way that the CIO of today can manage the expectations of an ever-diverse community with ever-diverse and –changing needs. Making this automation is what we’re passionate about at Apporto.

Consumerization of IT: What is your definition? Here is mine...

The talk about consumerization of IT is all the rage these days. Never mind that most word processors will underline the word "consumerization" as a misspelled word. A quick search in Merriam-Webster yields: "The word you have entered isn't in the dictionary..."

Of note is the number of definitions that various oranizations have offered to the consumerization of IT:

Unisys: Consumerization of IT is a blending of personal and business technology use that strikes at the heart of every standardized, built-for-cost enterprise infrastructure.

PWC: The Consumerization of IT is defined as the use of technologies that can easily be provisioned by non-technologists

Tech Target: IT consumerization is the blending of personal and business use of technology devices and applications.

Wikipedia: Consumerization is the growing tendency for new information technology to emerge first in the consumer market and then spread into business and government organizations.

Techopedia: The consumerization of IT refers to a trend in which a business's employees expect to be able to use personal devices to connect to corporate networks.

Gartner Group: Consumerization is the specific impact that consumer-originated technologies can have on enterprises. It reflects how enterprises will be affected by, and can take advantage of, new technologies and models that originate and develop in the consumer space, rather than in the enterprise IT sector

Microsoft defines it as “the increasing influence that our technology experiences as consumers -— both hardware and applications -— have on the technology that we expect to use at work,”

Here is yet another definition to add to the above list - ours: the consumerization of IT is the phenomenon of employees increasingly behaving like consumers in the enterprise.

Which definition is right? Well this reminds of the old joke: "I love standards. They are great! If you tell me yours, I will tell you mine"

Will there ever be a convergence in the definition of consumerization of IT?




Yes, the app store is the business model for the 21st century

In this Fast Company article, Farjad Manjood takes aim at Apple's app store gatekeeper model and points out that the company's heavy handed management is driving some high profile developers away from its app store and back to the web.

So far so good. But Farjad takes a huge leap from there and concludes that the majority of developers are likely to abandon app stores and go back to the web. I have two problems with his analysis: 1) He analyzes one app store (Apple's) and draws conclusions that pertain to all app stores AND 2) He looks at the app store from the developers perspective and articulates known gripes – but he fails to look at the app store from the perspective that matters more: the buyers'!

For the last two years, buyers have showered love on the app store – as evidenced by the number of downloads and purchases. I, in fact, submit that the Apple app store is a runaway success BECAUSE of Apple's app store policies: they extend the company's culture of excruciating focus on the user experience. Developer considerations are – well – secondary! Further, the app store brought buyers convenience, security and trust - which were clearly lacking on the web.

Let's consider for a minute what app buyers would have had to go through if the app store did not exist: 1) Locate apps on the web using search engines - a non starter - Google is about organizing the world's information and not the world's apps. A Google search will return apps as well as articles, press releases, reviews and SEO spam. Good luck trying to find apps by categories, ratings etc… 2) Assuming a buyer is somehow able to locate an app, will he feel comfortable installing it? Will the app mess up his device? 3) Assuming the buyer gets over the trust concern, will he be comfortable providing his credit card number to a developer based in say - China? Is an $1.99 app (which may or may never be used) worth the potential headaches of providing a credit card number to an unknown seller?

The Apple appstore has been a great success and is now being copied by companies in as varied industries as automotive and even utilities. Those companies are unlikely to copy Apple's app store policies and instead will come up with policies that reflect their own culture and ecosystem. A few developers may have abandoned the Apple app store, but 100s of others join every day. Why? Because the app store solves a fundamental problem that has bedeviled all developers: how to reach out to and market to buyers. 

Another example is the Amazon marketplace, considered by some as the precursor to app stores. It brought the convenience, security and trust of the Amazon brand to the web. Do some sellers gripe about Amazon's marketplace rules? Sure! But this is the price they have to pay to sell to the 10s of millions of Amazon customers. The Amazon marketplace is another runaway success: it generates more than $10B in revenue. This brings me to this conclusion: You will see a lot more app stores out there.