The Consumer Electronics Show kicked off this week in Las Vegas, this key diary event for the technology industry gives us a pointer as to what technology providers feel will be the big news and trends in 2011. Tablets it seems are this years hot news with launches by manufacturers such as Vizio, Toshiba (see video below showing their new Tablet), Motorola, LG, Dell, and Microsoft.
In addition to these new launches, we already have the publicised launch of the Blackberry Playbook and Apple is expected to be launching a new version of the iPad during 2011. The Samsung Galaxy Tab is already launched and in the build up to Christmas we have seen price cutting making this an affordable device. This will probably help ensure the early high prices for Tablets will fall and make these affordable and much more attractive devices for users during 2011.
However, perhaps even more important is the new software launches that are going hand-hand with the hardware developments. Google for instance have announced the launch of their new Android 3.0 operating system (Honeycomb).
Developed specifically with Tablets and their larger screens in mind, the developments are pulling operating systems from their Smartphone routes to become alternatives to PC operating systems such as Microsoft Windows. At the same time, Microsoft launched Windows Phone 7 in 2010. This is now running on Tablets as an alternative (or complimentary to, depending on your view point) to laptop use running Windows 7.
If this focus by manufacturers and software developers is anything to go by, Tablets and the continued growth of mobile technology are indeed the big news for 2011.
So aren't Tablets just big Smartphones?
Tablet technology has grown from the developments in hardware, software, and mobile broadband technology that already exists for Smartphones. But, Tablets represent more than only an up-sizing of existing Smartphones. What we see now are two things.
Firstly, a convergence of Laptop and Smartphone technology is happening. This convergence gives us extremely portable, but extremely useable, devices that will make mobile technology use even more widespread. Already over 50% of people (and growing) now have Smartphones, and the adoption of Tablets will see more people using mobile technology but in richer and wider ways.
Secondly, the rise of viable alternative operating systems to Windows signals an end to the PC/ Microsoft Windows dominance in how we use technology. This is not to say PC use and Windows are dead, more that we will now see a more fragmented market with different people preferring to use different types of devices and operating systems for both business and personal use.
Why is this important to the Recruitment Industry?
We've already seen a migration of recruitment activity to the Internet environment as recruiters seek out Candidates through Social Media channels. These strategies are set to continue, but perhaps in slightly different ways, as more and more users interact with information and other people through the Internet as mobile communications become easier and more convenient.
However, as Candidates become more used to mobile interaction with information this will inevitably also lead to increased demands for access to information such as Interview and Assignment details, Online Timesheets, and Payslips etc. It won't only be online recruitment strategies therefore that are required, online service strategies will also become important for Agencies and recruiters.
In the same way as Candidates will be seeking mobile services, Employers and Recruitment Agency personnel will also be wishing to access mobile services to interact with each other. This again requires agencies to develop Internet cloud strategies for how these will be delivered and to address the needs for office based access, mobile, and home working.
With these changes in user behaviour and expectations we should not overlook the IT strategies and policies of a business. In the past it was simple, your company supplied the PC and defined the software to run and use. With the fragmentation of the software market this will not be either a practical solution or desirable.
Users will develop different preferences and even emotional attachments to different devices running different operating systems. The hardware/software strategies and IT policies for a recruitment business therefore will need to reflect these changes and, at the same time, encompass end users outside of your own company who will be accessing your systems and services as well.
The mobile future:
Tablets are the hot news amongst the IT industry for 2011. The convergence of hardware, software, and broadband access for mobile communications is delivering to us devices that expand and enrich mobile communications and information access for all of us.
It is important to not underestimate the speed and potential social changes that come hand-in-hand with technology developments. We all need to be ready for them and address strategies to help us both exploit potential and also meet customer demands. There are solutions for this, but the first step is to recognise the potential changes and start planning for them.
Tablets are a significant development, however don't expect this to be the end point for how our mobile communications develop. Below is a video from Microsoft showing a future view of how our communications use might develop.
This is of course only one view, but whichever direction we go one thing is for certain - mobile working and communications is set to grow, and this will happen quicker and in perhaps different ways than many of us at present can visualise.