Earlier this month, I needed to make an unplanned personal trip to India. As I prepared to head out, I considered how I’d handle work even as I took care of the family’s needs. And I concluded that it was time to go all-in with the cloud.

So I moved ALL my files to SecuriSync, which is Intermedia’s brand new file share and sync tool. And then, with my iPad and PC in my backpack and my iPhone in my pocket, I headed off to India. And here’s what I learned:

  1. It really is the post-PC era! I did 99% of my work off of my iPad and iPhone. This includes reading emails AND attachments, accessing any files I needed to conduct business, and generally being as available as the circumstances permitted. The only time I used my computer was when I needed to carefully edit and mark up a critical document—in this case, the  editing tools available on my devices just weren’t good enough. (I also found that the inability to have multiple apps/windows running concurrently hampered my ability review/edit the document. More on this later.)
  2. Connectivity is critical and plentiful—but often too slow. My files were accessible via my devices, but I still needed Internet access to get to them. Fortunately, in the 12 months since I’d last visited, and certainly in the six years since I’d last worked there, India has undergone a sea change. Cell networks are now omnipresent and wifi routers are in most homes that I visited. But bandwidth is still an issue. Files took a while to download. One learns to be patient.

I’d argue that personal connectivity is a solved problem, both in terms of connecting to colleagues (social networks, email, Lync, etc) and connecting to files (SecuriSync). The big issue is mobile productivity: the iPad tools just aren’t enough for doing serious editing of Microsoft Office documents.

To give one example: I tried downloading one of the more popular third-party iPad apps for the Microsoft Office suite. (I know that Microsoft does offer Office iPad apps, but only if you’re an Office 365 subscriber—which, for reasons nicely outlined on Intermedia’s site, is not a good choice for SMBs that require flexibility). After playing with it for a while, I concluded that it will take some serious effort to get mobile productivity right. (Remember Sun’s StarOffice from the 2000’s and their under-3% market share?)

Is it all doom and gloom for Wintel specifically and desktops in general?

I don’t believe so. At least, not until mobile computing devices can enable one to create, edit and polish documents. I still need my desktop for email messages with formatting, business presentations, sophisticated spreadsheets, collaboratively edited documents and, one day, for coding. And until that day comes, PCs and devices will co-exist.

In fact, perhaps the whole concept of “replacing” is the wrong argument. What we have today is a toolbox. We’ll simply reach for the right tool.

Tomorrow, when we travel, we will—gladly? sadly?—work 24/7. But we’ll leave the laptop at home and be four pounds lighter. Or, as Jenny Craig puts it: “This is real life. This is real change.”

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