Collaboration in a Post-PC Era

By Wayne Slater | August 29, 2011

When I heard computing giant HP was looking to sell /spin off its PC business, I must admit to being a little surprised as it generates a whopping $40 billion and holds the leading spot in PC market share.  HP achieved the number one position by investing heavily when it acquired Compaq back in 2001 (which had earlier swallowed DEC).

So why is HP wanting out of the PC business? Decreasing profitability due to the vast market commoditization could be one factor in the change of strategy; but I think the true reason is the rapid rise of next-generation smartphones and tablets backed by cloud computing and high speed broadband.

These devices do not require the power of a high performance PC; in fact, earlier this year when Steve Jobs announced the iPad 2, he cited that client computing has reached a Post-PC era. To bolster Steve’s point, in January 2011 for the first time Smartphones outsold PCs according to IDC numbers from January.  It appears that tomorrow’s PC companies are really smartphone manufacturers.

From my perspective, I have been a high tech sales and marketing professional for more years than I like to mention, but during those times I have seen the tools I use to collaborate with my company, customers and partners drastically evolve. I have gone from office-bound telephone communication, to a 9-5 desktop PC user, then a laptop-touting road warrior, and now most recently a liberated smartphone user.

Today, I rarely take my laptop with me unless I’m building or delivering a PowerPoint presentation. Why? Since Apple figured out how to converge the phone with an Internet device, with an iPod (okay, not business oriented but required for the road) I have all of the tools I need in the palm of my hand.  Email, calendar scheduling, conference calling, flight booking, text messaging and most importantly content reviewing via PDF.

This is now when I had one of those ah-ha moments. Since the mid-90s, regardless of the devices or operating systems I have used, I have always had the ability to leverage the PDF file format for internal or external collaboration. So whether I am reviewing contracts, providing feedback on marketing collateral, reading reports or viewing presentations, the trusty PDF has always been there, just on ever-shrinking mobile devices.

That’s because the PDF is light-weight (small file size), secure, easily searchable and mobile friendly. Also, with server-based content-to-PDF vendors like Adlib out there, the creation of the PDF has been moved from the desktop to a more efficient automated business process in the back office, therefore removing the need for a PC, as well as costly desktop tools like Adobe Acrobat and their associated support burdens.

Also, with the rapid adoption of PDF/A (PDF for long term archiving), many organizations are betting heavily on PDF to be a supported standard for many years to come.

So as the hardware, the OSs, the storage methodologies and wireless networks continue to evolve in this Post-PC era,  it’s good to know that I will still be efficiently collaborating using the PDF file format for many years to come. In a world of fast-paced change, it’s comforting to know some things will stay the same.

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