Category Archives: Apple

Get Ready for WYOD

I kicked off the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD): A Summit for Decision-Makers (summary article) as the keynote speaker last week in Ann Arbor, Michigan. This Summit was put on by Merit, who provides the network service needs of higher education, K-12 organizations, government, health care, libraries, and other non-profits for the state of Michigan. It brought together public and private sector technology and security leaders, as well as experts from academia and a wide array of vendor sponsors, to discuss hot trends for employees who are bringing their own devices to work.

Keynote Address for BYOD Summit

Keynote Address for BYOD Summit

I was interested in presenting on this BYOD topic because I understand the concerns but I also feel we need to put the issue into proper perspective. BYOD is officially defined as the practice of allowing the employees of an organization to use their own computers, smartphones, or other devices for work purposes. This is the valid concern which causes us to question our preparedness for dealing with bandwidth and security issues associated with BYOD. But the acronym has become synonymous with challenges relating to the explosion of mobile internet access devices which tend to pressure our network management more than security risks. My Keynote entitled, BYOD: We just need to keep up, focused on the emerging concerns from Wear Your Own Device (WYOD) and the evolution of The Internet of Things (IoT).

Wearable devices today are not really pressing our infrastructure or security concerns, however, that is the calm before the storm. The focus for these wearables today typically points to some form of activity or health monitoring. Interaction with the Internet or local WiFi is minimal now typically because of power consumption issues. However, the stage is set for these small useful devices to interact with our personal Internet space. And the most significant use will evolve out of the NFC based authentication made popular by the Apple Pay entry for transacting purchases. The key here is the validation of mobile devices, typically today’s smartphones, as authenticators of our personal identity. Replacement of the credit card swipe for retail purchases will lead the way, however, we in IT will get to explore and support all of the other uses that will play off this technology. For us in higher education we will see this become our student’s ID Card for building access, attendance and even remote test proctoring. The technology challenge is not daunting, however, the shift of our support mentality may be difficult. We will need to protect the effectiveness of these activities along with ensuring the security. It will mean a lot more technology responsibility on our plates.

Cell Phone Authenticating our Identity

I was chatting with one of our professors and our conversation ventured into the importance of mobile devices. The topic related to why it was so important for Microsoft to gain a foothold in the mobile phone market and I explained to him the intricate connection between the consumer’s phone and their computing platform of choice. But I also told him that the mobile phone would someday be the most important component for authenticating identity which is critical for financial transactions. I’m not sure I knew exactly how that was going to play out but it is always fun to stimulate non-techies into imagining what the future might hold. I did tell him about how important cell phones were in Africa for providing a means of transferring money. So it was a natural assumption to connect the cell phone to the online or digital economy as a means of providing more secure form of authentication. And when you talk more secure you typically relate that to a dual form of authentication based on something you have and what something is better than cell phones. Anyways, this conversation led to being asked to give a talk on this topic for the local Rotary.

I relate this conversation as a lead in for the story today about how Apple might offer a means for how we pay for stuff. Apple is hinting that it may explore this territory of payment services and that the fingerprint authentication on the new iPhones was implemented with this in mind. But the real impetus may be that Apple has amassed the most impressive number of personal accounts, about 800 million, that are connected to a credit card. This number is huge especially when compared to the next closest, Amazon’s 237 million. And what was the trick to getting this many purchase ready accounts? Music Downloads through iTunes. Yes, the convenience of impulse buying for a song that I hear justified my synchronizing my credit card with my iTunes account. And I have been very pleased with the results; quick, efficient, receipt email, and trust. Yes trust, there has not been a significant security breach of Apple’s accounts.

So is Apple going to expand their payment services to include any online or even checkout counter transactions? Lot’s of issues that have to be worked out before that financial model is justified, but I would bet on it. I was originally thinking the mobile phone could provide an identity solution for verifying who you are using the 2 step authentication model. Apple has successfully expanded that to include biometrics which I think will inevitably be required in our insecure identity compromised world. Makes a whole lot more sense then offering a credit card and signing a receipt. Needless to say, control of the mobile phone market continues to grow in importance. The next authentication phase will probably involve scanning that chip they want to insert into our body, but I think for now we work from something that everyone wants to have on their body.

I’m Going to Missouri S&T

I would like for my blogging community to know that I will be changing jobs as of February 1, 2013. My new position will be Chief Information Officer for Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla, MO. sandtLogoThe official press release will explain it more if you are interested. This is exciting for me because I am returning to my science and technology roots. It should bring a new flavor to this blog as I transition not only from private to public but from primarily Apple to Microsoft.

It was a great privilege to answer God’s call to help George Fox University, but I sense a new call to help our country graduate more scientists and engineers. Moving to Missouri will be a dramatic change as will the opportunity to lead a well-established STEM-based university. Science and technology is my passion so I couldn’t be more excited especially with an opportunity to get back into support of significant research activity.

The New PC Revolution

I was intrigued by my own response to the Apple product announcements yesterday. How does that work? Well, I allowed my own technical interest to play out. I watched the product announcement video, I critiqued the Jobs-less Apple presentation as any Apple fan might do. But then I stepped back and evaluated what I had seen and what my gut reactions had been. And I believe I sensed a turning point similar to what I witnessed when the PC finally emerged as the option for the masses back in the early eighties.

Apple’s new products are beautiful and carry an even higher “cool factor”, but I think the difference now is the status difference that emphasizes affluence over practicality. I caught myself asking “why do we really need such a thin iMAC with a retina display that will cost approximately $2000. Sure some power users can justify the specifications, but I sensed a new arrogance from Apple, one that says we only care or cater to the affluent buyer and if you have concerns about being locked into our platform then tough, we don’t need you. Why haven’t I felt that before.

  • Was it because the Apple products were so superior that cost was not a factor.
  • Was it the fact that I don’t really see a difference with the retina display.
  • Was it the lack of attention to even offer low cost options.
  • Was it the $329 entry price for the iPad Mini.

Yes, probably so.

If I wear my Higher Education hat, I start to question whether the recent trend of students preferring Apple laptops is still healthy in these turbulent financial times. I see the student with a white macbook as the Kmart shopper and the those with aluminum models the Neiman Marcus shopper. I see our entitled students as being concerned about this. Nothing wrong, this is who we are, but I sense that the split in the road is now pronounced. Apple only wants the high road and the profit margins that come from that market segment. Do we in Higher Education need to shift our focus to the affordable consumer market that appears to be dominated by Google based platforms?

I think the door is still slightly open for Microsoft to hold onto the corporate workplace, but it won’t be because of an Office Suite but can be about professional applications. Let’s accept the fact that a Pad computing device is more then adequate for working with today’s cloud based information. I believe we will see affordable smart computing devices appear in the hands of the consumer masses worldwide. This is a movement that redefines the Personal Computer, “PC”.  And with it, we will have an even greater need for techies to maintain computing sanity.

Apple – thanks for the E-Textbook Stimulus

I wrote a post about the recent Apple Educational Event but I decided not to publish it because it was mostly expressing my disappointment. Oh well, I’m glad I spared you the typical uninspiring critique, especially after getting a chance to review the compilation of blog posts put together by the Chronicle, “Campus Reactions to Apple’s Entry Into E-Textbook Market”. Some good points are made by others that give Apple due credit for at least stimulating the E-Textbook market.

I do hold out hope that the iBook Author application might be allowed to be more open with regard to output format. And I do not think Apple needs to require a tether to the iPad for E-Textbooks in the iBookstore but I imagine that for now all the players are holding their cards close. I do believe the overall textbook business model is close to a dramatic shakeup so any E-Textbook stimulus will be beneficial. I can tell you that we are getting ready to play our cards.

Growing up with Steve Jobs

I am about the same age as Steve Jobs and in many respects we did grow up together at least with our involvement with technology. He obviously was a bit more involved which was good because that had a significant influence on me. I was supposed to be a doctor but realized that was not my real dream however, I did get a degree in Chemistry out of it. As a chemist I discovered “computers” or powerful calculators that controlled analytical instrumentation in the laboratory. Yes, college courses introduced me to computers that you interacted with via stacks of paper cards but the concept of creating something on your own computer just totally grabbed me. I then heard of these personal computers like Heath Kits but it was the discovery of a ComputerLand store in Chicago that did me in. This is 1979, an Apple II computer emerging and I had to have it. The serial number was 2014. So began the journey that placed me very much in tune with what Jobs and Wozniak were up to. Owning my own computer at that time was amazing.

At this time in my career as a chemist I just happened to be making a lot of money, at least for me, due to working through a strike situation with my job. In late 1979 I convinced my college buddy who had just graduated with an MBA and Law degree to partner on starting a computer store/software business.  Jobs and Wozniak we were not but what a great adventure, start a computer business with about $10K in Steamboat Springs, CO. Maybe the location doomed ultimate success, but the adventure was real. Programming on an HP 85 actually was my best option for the lab management software I was developing but Apple was a part of our lives. Well this is a just a teaser for my life growing up with Steve. There is a book in this but the story is still evolving. I did actually run into Steve at the Frys in Milpitas back in 1987. As I remember there was a NEXT facility nearby. I have gone through the Apple roller coaster of love, confusion, pity, and amazement. Yes Steve was amazing and Apple Inc. is an impressive portion of his epitaph. I do feel fortunate to have lived during the life of one of the greatest people of all time.

Apple – Apple Events – Celebrating Steve

Does “The HP Way” still exist?

Bill Hewlett & Dave Packard

So do you think Hewlett-Packard’s change of course away from mobile and PC manufacturing is a wise change or have they lost their rudder. On the surface it probably looks wise especially to the stockholders, but how can this be positive for the company? What happened to the HP I used to work for from 87-94. I worked for an HP when Dave and Bill exerted influence upon the company. Stockholders were proud to be a part of a great company, satisfied with decent dividends. Innovation came from HP Labs and profits came from just-in-time manufacturing. A diversified company provided great strength as the strong sectors carried the weaker ones only to be repaid when their need came. HP was a great company then, do the employees today still feel that way?  Does “The HP Way” still exist?

Carly Florina took over the helm at HP from Lew Platt in 1999.  Carly had all but destroyed Lucent and definitely did not protect the HP assets. Mark Hurd took care of one of the most important HP Ways, Integrity. And now Leo Apotheker wants to transition HP over to the high profit margin past of software services. Where do you think HP is headed?

So does HP’s ride cause us to compare what Apple might be in for? Apple is probably in good shape for a while with a true Apple leader in Tim Cook taking over under the watchful eye of Steve Jobs. A bit like Lew Platt taking over HP. How long after Steve passes on will Tim Cook be allowed to maintain the Apple culture. Consider how attractive Apple’s wealth will become to their stockholders. Not that I care greatly about Apple being protected, but I do worry about the fall of great American companies. But today I worry about Hewlett-Packard.

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Relevant Article: What HP Must Do Now For CIOs

The decline of the HP Way turned off employees. Now HP must clarify its strategy to worried enterprise customers.

Culture Change seems to be Buffering our Technology Change

I have been observing IT listserv comments about what concerns they have for this year’s returning class. Seems like the traditional problems of software provisioning and student computing standards are more complicated this year as we deal with mobile devices and radical changes like software being sold via personal App Store accounts. Of course Apple is the real reason for all of this uncertainty.  Whether you like it or not mobile computing blending into traditional computing is not designed for IT management. But do we need to manage it?

I am intrigued this year by institutions that dictate or distribute computers to their students. Of course that is because this is the first year in 20 that we will not be doing that. So of course we are a bit apprehensive about what the start of classes might bring in the way of computing problems. But we just aren’t sensing any concerns yet. And I think that is because at the root of computing issues is software not the computer and our culture here appears to be far more tolerant to software options. We seem to have our major computer application issues under control via the provisioning of specialized labs, typically for engineering, music and graphic arts. The only area where I have a specific software concern is for School of Business students to have MS Excel. I can still load MS Office on a student computer but I doubt that we see more then half the new students take us up on that.

Why are we not seeing more concern about how we will satisfy the computing demands of our new students?  The overriding reason has to be based on a culture change. Isn’t it really habit and fear that cause us to be so concerned about controlling our computing environment. So a major culture influence has to be our moving so heavily to Apple over the last 4 or 5 years. This has caused many to accept alternatives approaches to computing tasks, meaning acceptance of a wider array of software. Hence we have reduced the fear component. Then I think our moving to Google Apps a few years ago for faculty and students without any real initiative laid the groundwork for acceptance of alternatives. Alternatives that were driven by convenience especially when we moved everyone to gmail last year. But we never pushed anything we just enabled it. Yes there has been a huge adoption of Google Services which must be contributing to this culture change. And now that we have eliminated the laptop program I think my community has remained calm because of this culture change.

George Saltsman, Ex. Dir. of the Adams Center for Teaching and Learning at ACU, and I have done some presentations lately along these lines and I like his observation of IT over the last few decades.  In the beginning IT evangelized for more computer use. Then as everyone adopted our tools we focused on controlling that use. Now we are learning to embrace their computer use. I’m not sure if this will continue to play out but the stage is set. Something we always say over at GeoAid, “Change is inevitable, Growth is a choice”. 

Minimum Computing Requirements

Reviewing your minimum computer specifications that your IT organization will publish to advise next year’s students takes on a little more importance for us since next year will be our first where we do not provide our entering undergraduates with a laptop. So out of tradition we start with defining the minimum PC and Apple computer along with recommended operating systems. The added influence is that it must be able to to run the core software such as MS Office (mostly Word and Excel) and for us the browser influence required for Moodle and our PeopleSoft portal. As for Browsers I was surprised to witness discussion of Internet Explorer for its problems rather then as a requirement. We wanted to bless Chrome but settled on FireFox again as the recommended browser.

My team of EdTech and computer technicians also entertained my questions about the relevancy of this type of computing specification. As in, why are we still so concerned about this. Well, it appears that the real motivation was focused on our adult learners. They have the narrowest margin for hassle, they need standards and structure. Whereas I think our concern for the undergrads is driven by our need to accommodate the faculty. Hmmm, common thread there “adult” with narrowest margin for hassle and the need for standards. So my team was not ready to allow me to rock the boat by relaxing the requirements to allow freedom of choice and possible opportunity for different modes of Teaching & Learning. But I think they see it down the road.

I got back into teaching this year with a course for Business majors titled “Information Services”. I bring this up because my experience with these undergrads confirms my belief that we need to loosen our control. They do not need structure but they will do what we tell them. I am only a month into the course but it has been eye opening mostly because for what these students do not know. So we have focused heavily on the Internet and Web influence on business today. I’m also pushing that they understand what Information Services really represents typically in the world of Enterprise Business Solutions. I will have to write a more extensive post for my reflections on teaching this course later in the semester.

NFC could justify RFID thanks to Apple

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I would guess that many of you caught the story this week about the strong rumors that Apple’s iPhone 5 and iPad 2 will support NFC, Near Field Communication. This basically says that those devices will be able to authenticate close range wireless transactions which probably means we will start referring to this as the iWallet. This makes total sense and the fact that Apple launches it guarantees that it will be adopted industry wide. So this reminds me of my prediction a few years back in my post New Telco Business Model when I mentioned the concept of our Cell Phones becoming our Identification card. Of course I was advising the Telcos to take the lead on this, but I knew they wouldn’t.

I predict this will move rapidly, especially once they add a few techniques that validate that you are the authorized owner of the mobile device. This offers a 2 key authentication option that is as good as login and password. What do I mean? Well, you can’t just let an iPhone have authority to make purchases or pass through gates, so you have to have a way to verify that this is your device. It could be as archaic as entering a password on your mobile device but I’m thinking it might better justify that RFID chip implanted in your forearm that you pair with. So that chip doesn’t really hold any personal information, it just allows you to authorize that it is OK for your Near Field Communication of private information to take place. I’m thinking airport security checkin but debiting my account for purchasing coffee would be important as well. This could be huge for solidifying iTunes as our identity of choice.

Students are starting to pick up their iPads

The new year is upon us and interest continues to mount concerning the iPad option we have offered our new students. So we started handing out MacBooks or iPads to the new students here early for athletics and there seemed to be more then 10% picking up their iPads. Maybe a correlation here? Anyways, I did get to ask a number of them why they chose the iPad and the answer was always that they already had a computer so they felt lucky to have the option to get an iPad. They had total confidence in what it was going to do for them and seemed to understand the limitations. I do think our pool of students that have selected the iPad will be an interesting group to study in that they all had the freedom to choose, hence, are probably highly motivated to utilize the device. I sensed that the students with iPads will not be shy about using them (pride in their selection) which will give us interesting comparisons to our traditional Macbook users.

Next Thursday the fun will really begin when the traditional freshman show up. It also sounds like a number of media folks will be around hoping to capture some quotes from some of these students. Still the unanswered question: “Do you think the iPad will allow you to benefit from E-Textbooks?”. Well yes if there were E-Textbooks.

What is Mobile Learning?

I confirmed a couple of things at mLearnCon this week in San Diego. Mobile Learning for Higher Education is about connecting while for the business community it is about information delivery. Since the concept of mobile learning has evolved due to improved mobile devices, Higher Education has been expected to blaze a trail for incredible new mobile learning tools. And we have tried, ambitious educators have siphoned off many grant dollars to explore the possibilities. We at GFU have been in the middle of it with many early Apple iPhone, Touch and now iPad applications, but we were not finding mobile learning. We were finding mobile connectivity and more flexible access to information but that did not translate into improved learning. The learning would have to come from a change in pedagogy, as William Rankin, ACU Connected, most effectively explained it, our professors need to present the questions that our students can now easily research, then help them experience and discern the answers. Mobility unlocks the classroom allowing us to directly answer the questions. And with everyone connected; directly can mean virtually or directly as in leave the classroom to explore the question in person. This is incredibly exciting but also frightening to academic institutions that are comfortable with the reverse.

Now there may be a refuge for our faculty who find greater comfort as conveyors of information. That would be to go to the private sector and help the many business entities that need to use mobile learning to more effectively educate their employees or customers. I discovered an excellent example for the use of mobile learning for the corporate world, it was presented as “Digital Wine“, by Robert Hennigar, of Constellation Wines. His education department has created the perfect mobile learning application, Academy of Wine. Condense the necessary information about every wine that they sell and make it readily available to their employees, distributors and anyone else who might need to offer an intelligent recommendation for a wine. I recommend that you checkout the mobile site, http://www.aowmobile.com, if you ever need to make an important wine selection.

iPad Configuration for the Students

I’m writing this post in my room at Skamania Lodge looking out over the Columbia River Gorge (see photo of the month). I’m here for our annual NWACC Summit where IT leaders from most of the institutions of higher education in the Northwest come together to focus on current technology concerns. The view this morning is a bit clouded but stil pretty amazing. So do I talk about the iPhone 4, how again Apple has packaged a consumers dream, but do I really care about “FaceTime” or movie production on my iPhone? Yes, another impressive example of nano-phone engineering and with iOS4 it bring multi-tasking closer to the iPad where it is really needed.

No this post is about our final iPad configuration for our incoming freshman where early returns on their selection results show that about 10% are opting for the iPad. Going into this I was expecting some love from Apple in the form of discounting on the iPad similar to what we get on the MacBooks when purchased in bulk. That did not happen so it did kind of shock us when we realized the iPad configuration that we were offering actually cost us more then the MacBook package. Anyways, we modified it a bit and have finalized on the 32 G iPad, you really don’t need more then 16 G since it is so difficult to actually move useful content onto the iPad. We added the dock and wireless keyboard because the students really can write term papers on this device. We decided to add the camera connection kit knowing that someday for the iPad to truly be useful to a college student the ability to  transfer files to or from a USB device would be needed. We completed the package with iWorks and the 2 year warranty.

Off to the NWACC meetings where I bet half of the CIO will have an iPad. Oh we so want this device to be made whole for higher education.

Reflections & Migration to Google went Well

I’m at MSP waiting for my flight back to Portland and had time to reflect on the week. Last weekend we migrated all of our University (faculty, staff & students) to Google gmail. All indications are that the migration went really well. An excellent value proposition, we essentially get Unified Communications with serious email resources and Google gets target marketing data and an excellent chance for lifetime customers.

The reason for the trip to Minnesota was our annual CCCU Technology Conference, that is the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, which is a very good cross section of small to medium size institutions of Higher Education. I gave a presentation entitled “Will the iPad Change Higher Education?”. The key message was how GFU was going to support the iPads that some of our freshman would choose from our “Connected Across Campus” program. Unfortunately my presentation was mostly about how we would deal with the deficiencies of the iPad, but we did get to a more open discussion. E-Textbooks are not happening, and cloud collaboration should be a key to the future of iPad type devices.

General networking discussions leaned toward frustration and disappointment with Microsoft’s product strategy. How Microsoft’s arrogance prevents them from being innovative, but also how Apple’s arrogance is starting to look a lot more like Microsoft. Hmmm, history always seems to repeat itself. Interesting observations about the leadership of these 2 companies. Microsoft’s hope is that Ballmer will leave. Apple’s fear is that Jobs will leave.

Just Talking About our Student Consumer Influence

I just wanted to offer a bit more clarification for what influence I believe is changing. That was the loss of influence directly related to the influence attributed to the consumers we produce, our students. Early on those students represented the most significant demographic that would influence technology purchasing. Back then they were the emerging work force being hired by companies that would consider investing in technology. College students were a privileged class that had access to computing, they were influential.

This has played out as I mentioned with Apple’s early focus on K-12 which has probably provided significant influence for the massive general consumer market of non-professionals that they are doing so well with right now. Apple’s success in Higher Ed in recent years is a fortunate by-product of their overall marketing strategy. But Apple is not targeting the iPad for Higher Ed meaning our students are not influential for the success of that product line.

Microsoft is slightly different in that they did aggressively pursue the college student initially and are now realizing the long term benefit. It was critical for Microsoft that our college students were given access to MS Office and that they carried that influence on to the business community. Today that influence is still coming from those old students, but not the new ones. Microsoft is trying to hold on to their most significant revenue stream in business and government with those same students now firmly entrenched in those companies. Microsoft’s focus is on their Business Productivity Online Suite, BPOS, based on SharePoint requiring MS Office. New students coming into these companies are not going to dislodge such a significant business suite infrastructure with products like iWorks or Google Apps. Making some of those features available to Live EDU is a by-product that Microsoft is forced to provide in response to Google.

This is not a negative against these companies, it is good business on their part. I’m just identifying this trend for what it is. There are other examples that relate to corporate philanthropy and influence that academic research may still hold, but my example is just about the changing student consumer influence that we in IT have been a part of.

Now we in IT leadership still need to consider how our influence may be beneficial to our institution. And one of the major influences today is that offered for managing our information. Google is the most interested in this influence because they want our consumers (students). Because today they are the most likely demographic to consider using this service after graduation and are most likely to influence their future professions. The real take away here is that Google is trying to influence the creation of a new market while Microsoft is trying to hold on to one.

By the way, we migrated our university email to gmail today for my IT department so that we could properly pilot it in preparation for moving all university email to Google at the end of the month. I am far more impressed then I anticipated. We have supported all Google Apps except email for a year now. What we now have by adding email is as fine a Unified Communications Solution as I could ever buy.

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