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商业 - 科技

伟大的意外:苹果引发信息技术革命

Aaron Levie 2011年08月05日

引发企业信息技术重大变革的并不是苹果光鲜的台式电脑和笔记本电脑,而是它的移动产品。

    1997年,戴尔公司CEO迈克尔•戴尔曾经说过一番很著名的话。他说如果他是苹果(Apple)公司的CEO,他就会趁早关门,把钱还给股东。不料最终史蒂夫•乔布斯竟然走上神坛。乔布斯有充分的理由去羞臊迈克尔•戴尔的面皮。尽管当年苹果推出iMac笔记本后大获成功,但当时大多数的“知识型工作者”主要还是依赖传统的WinTel平台(也就是Windows+英特尔),只有少数营销人员、设计师或开发人员才选用外观精美的苹果产品。当时普通人也大都钟情传统、主流的Windows电脑。在当时看来,苹果貌似会成为一家专门面向时尚数码产品消费者和创意精英的小众厂商。

    我们刚把苹果归到小众那一拨里,苹果就改变了世界——仅凭一只手机。苹果iPhone革命性地将强大的应用程序、全网页浏览和各种各样的多媒体程序杂糅在一起,为消费者和职业人士创造出了一种全新的移动体验。iPhone大获成功之后,苹果趁势接二连三地推出新产品,从升级版的iMac,到后来的Macbook Air。iPhone推出后仅仅36个月,苹果的iPad再次改变了世界。快进到今天,苹果已经坐上了电脑世界的头把交椅,控制了大量的研发者、设备和消费者,并且在很大程度上控制了行业的总体方向。

    不过苹果带来的最大影响,可能未必出自苹果的本意。

    在最近20年的大部分时间里,微软和少数其他巨型企业几乎垄断了财富500强企业和其他企业的IT服务。不过如果你四处打听打听,你就会发现,很多人或IT管理人员并不喜欢这种霸权局面。员工们很快就意识到,他们的企业IT和他们的个人电脑应用之间存在着显著的差异。因此他们开始把自己的设备和应用程序带到公司,这种现象催生了一个全新的科技领域。实际上苹果公司并没有认真瞄准这个领域。因为要为企业服务,就要在复杂性、规模、安全性和细节上下足功夫,更不用说还得和企业使用的其他所有主要平台进行合作。这样一来,苹果将无暇顾及市场。不过苹果虽然没有直接参与进去,但凭借最近的一系列成功,加之苹果在这一过程中提高了我们对科技的接受标准,因此它还是对科技产生了深远的影响。

    所以虽说苹果并非主动领导企业信息技术变革,但它的产品还是对企业信息技术变革起到了催化作用。例如去年有88%的财富100强企业都在iPhone上测试或部署应用程序。iPhone和iPad在企业中的应用越来越普及,带动了苹果的龙头产品的销量,Mac电脑的全球销量年增长率达到了近28%。正如苹果的首席运营官蒂姆•库克所指出的那样:“iPad显然对Mac电脑的销量造成了连锁反应。”

    这一点很重要。原因何在?因为一旦企业配备了全套的苹果装备——iPhone, iPad和Mac电脑,(根据苹果最近一个季度的表现来看,企业还在继续大量购置苹果设备),或者甚至是安卓(Android)系统的设备。总之一旦发生了这种情况,一些现有的应用程序(比如IBM的通讯工具或微软的协作工具)在生产过程中的重要性就会日益降低。今天,职业人士所使用的工具正在经历一次彻底的转变,我们正迎来企业的苹果化时代,也就是所谓的iEnterprise时代。

    例如宝洁公司(Procter & Gamble)2008年找到在线文件共享与管理网站Box.net,希望它能提供一套解决方案,使宝洁的员工能够进行远程沟通和远程内容协作。当时没有任何一家公司能够满足这一要求。不过到了2011年,宝洁已经将Box的云内容管理功能全面部署到了18,000名员工中,这在很大程度上要归功于近一两年兴起的各种新平台和新设备。不光是宝洁一家,从潘朵拉(Pandora)到都乐(Dole),大大小小的行业和企业都借助新平台和新设备实现了远程协作。这也解释了为什么多达73%的财富500强企业都采用了苹果的产品。我们显然不是这场企业需求变革的唯一受益者,也不是这长变革的唯一推动者。

    所谓的iEnterprise并不是说企业只部署由苹果公司设计的产品,而是指彻底改变企业的技术支持、技术应用和消费方式;指的是利用我们个人生活中的科技,来影响和改变我们对职场生活的期望值。iEnterprise未必是将个人生活和职场生活这两个世界的数码产品融合在一起,而是保持生活理想和职业理想的一致。

    尽管史蒂夫•乔布斯在介绍新产品的时候总爱说“惹人喜欢”或“令人惊叹”这种词儿,但这种形容词显然无法拿来形容现在的企业软件。原因有以下几点。首先企业软件的成品往往给人一种缺乏热情的感觉,甚至有点冷漠死板。其次,许多应用和服务给人的感觉有些虚张声势,令人意兴阑珊。事实上我们工作中用得最多、花最多的钱买回来的软件和硬件往往也是最复杂、最笨拙、最让人焦头烂额的货色。

    不过iEnterprise的目的,是要由厂商来打造能够让用户感到兴奋和惊奇的科技,正如苹果公司的做法。它的重点在于协作,在于开放的生态环境,在于公平的竞争市场,在于以创新求胜——这极大地颠覆了企业IT的现状。现在的情况是,厂商的封锁和垄断使他们在很长的时间内都不用进行大规模的产品提升,因为顾客只能在他们这里买东西(比如微软)。

    这一点在企业应用的移动性的发展上表现得尤为明显。过去人们认为移动性就是能够随时随地快捷地收发电子邮件,或是进行电话会议。在上世纪90年代和20世纪初,黑莓(Blackberry)是这方面的领军者。不过iPhone和iPad在移动性方面走得更远,而且现在几十款热门的安卓设备基至已经打入了一些大公司。我们在惠普(HP)和它的WebOS平台上也见到了移动性的进一步发展。企业现在可以通过Salesforce、Roambi、Basecamp、Yammer或Box等服务来接入重要数据、项目或内容。

    iEnterprise还意味着那些用途广泛、功能强大的平台通过整合,可以实现互联和拓展。例如Salesforce是一款云交付的客户关系管理应用,可以用来管理公司的销售部门,也可以与公司在Box上的业务信息进行联接,或者与Workday上的人力资源信息进行联接。而企业管理解决方案Netsuite可以与Yammer上的社交软件进行连接。云计算平台GoodData可以让用户在客服托管平台GetSatisfaction上的客服数据结果变得更形象化。客户关系管理平台Asistly还可以将公司的顾客支持率插入谷歌企业应用套件(Google Apps),使企业看到从各个社交网站汇总的顾客支持率。服务的混和和搭配本来在我们生活中很常见,但现在它已经扩展到了企业界,反过来它又极大地推动了越来越多开放性解决方案的发展,它们正在改变企业界面貌的。

    当然,这并不意味着Windows就日薄西山了。光是人的惰性就足以使微软在未来10年之内仍然不会失掉企业操作系统和软件提供商的地位。只要微软做出一点点创新,微软的企业IT生意还会做得更久。不过苹果的功劳在于它迫使我们重新思考科技在我们生活中的角色,从而造成了深远的影响。它正在改变整个行业,而且也会对企业界造成长远的影响。

    科技会给我们的个人生活、以至职场生活带来什么样的改变,从而使我们的工作生活更富于成效,使我们的联系更加紧密?我们对这一点的期望越来越高,也越来越明确。那么,欢迎来到iEnterprise时代!

    ——作者亚伦•列维是Box.net的CEO兼共同创始人。

    译者:朴成奎

    In 1997, Michael Dell famously declared that if he were CEO of Apple (AAPL), he would close shop and return the money to shareholders. Steve Jobs has had plenty of reasons to gloat since then, but even just a decade ago, Apple was a footnote in the story of modern computing. Despite the company's comeback success with the iMac, the vast majority of 'knowledge workers' still relied on their staid WinTel (Windows + Intel (INTC)) platform, with the occasional marketer, designer or developer opting for Apple's sleeker products. Naturally, Windows PCs were also the familiar, mainstream choice for our personal lives. And so it seemed that Apple would be relegated to devices for the hip digital consumer and creative elite.

    But right when we thought we had Apple's place in the market pegged, they changed the world... with a phone. The iPhone's revolutionary combination of powerful apps, full web browsing, and all the media you could consume created an entirely new mobile experience for consumers and workers alike. Apple fed its newfound momentum with a deluge of subsequent products, ranging from updated iMacs to the Macbook Air. And with the iPad, Apple changed the world yet again only 36 months later. Fast forward to today, and Apple sits in the computer world's top position of power, controlling developers, devices, consumers, and much of the industry's overall direction.

    Maybe its biggest impact of all, however, was one that Apple didn't necessarily intend.

    For the better part of twenty years, Microsoft (MSFT) and a handful of other enterprise behemoths pretty much dominated the vertical stack of solutions that are core to the Fortune 500 and beyond. But if you ask around, not too many individuals or IT leaders are happy about this hegemony. Workers are quickly recognizing the stark contrast between the computing that occurs in their personal lives and the business status quo. In turn, they're bringing their own devices and apps to work, driving the emergence of an all-new technology landscape. This landscape isn't being targeted by Apple in any real way; the complexity, scale, security, and nuances of serving enterprises – not to mention the inherent need to work with all the major (non-Apple) platforms enterprises use – tend to keep Apple from building for this market. But even without making any direct enterprise play, Apple has had a profound influence on technology with its latest string of successes and by raising our standards along the way.

    So while Apple isn't intentionally leading an enterprise technology revolution, its products are nonetheless catalyzing one. For instance, 88% of the Fortune 100 are testing or deploying applications on the iPhone last year. The downstream effect of more iPhones and iPads in the enterprise is more sales of Apple's flagship products, with Mac worldwide sales growing by nearly over 28% year over year – as Tim Cook, Apple's COO, puts it, "iPad clearly seems to be creating a halo effect for the Mac."

    Why does this matter? Well, once an enterprise adopts iPhones, iPads, and Macs en masse (as they continue to, judging by Apple's most recent quarter), or even Android devices for that matter, many of the existing applications – be it a communication tool from IBM (IBM), or collaboration from Microsoft – serve less productive purposes given the new way people are working. The toolset today's workers interact with on an ongoing basis is experiencing a wholesale transition – a transition that's introducing us to the iEnterprise.

    Take, for instance, Procter & Gamble (PG), who came to Box.net in 2008 looking for a solution that could help employees connect to and collaborate on their content remotely, when no existing vendor would suffice. Fast-forward to 2011, and they're now deploying Box cloud content management to 18,000 individuals, in large part due to the proliferation of new platforms and devices that have emerged in just the past couple of years. The same story is true for businesses of all sizes and industries, ranging from Pandora (P) to Dole. It's why we've seen adoption in 73% of the Fortune 500. And we're clearly not the only ones benefiting from and driving this dramatic evolution of needs and demands in the enterprise.

    The iEnterprise isn't, as the moniker suggests, about enterprises that just implement products designed in Cupertino. It's about a fundamental change in how our enterprise technology is supported, adopted, and consumed. It's about the technology in our personal lives influencing and changing expectations in our professional lives. The iEnterprise isn't necessarily the convergence of the tools we use in these two worlds, but rather the consistency of ideals.

    While Steve Jobs introduces new products with words like "delightful" and "amazing," this vocabulary is nonexistent within the enterprise software set. There are a number of reasons for this. There's often a lack of passion, and even a bit of apathy, that shows in the final product. Applications and services feel bloated and uninspiring. The apps and hardware that we spend most of our waking hours with - and the most money on - tend to be the most complex, clunky, and unnerving.

    But like Apple, the iEnterprise is about vendors building technology that excites and surprises users. It's about solutions that work together, and about open ecosystems. It's about marketplaces that compete to win, and innovate to compete – a major break from the status quo, where vendor lock-in enables long cycles of limited product enhancements, simply because the customer has nowhere else to go (Redmond, ahem).

    We're especially seeing it show up in the changing mobility of our enterprise offerings. Mobility used to be defined by quick and easy access to email or a conference call, led by Blackberry in the '90s and early '00s. The iPhone and iPad took this much further, and dozens of popular Android devices are now even making their way into large corporations. We're further seeing it with HP (HPQ) and its WebOS platform. Businesses can enable access to critical data, projects, or content through services like Salesforce and Roambi, Basecamp and Yammer, or Box, respectively.

    The iEnterprise is also about broadly useful, powerful platforms that connect and become enhanced through integration: cloud-delivered applications like Salesforce (CRM) to run your sales organization will connect to your business information on Box or HR information on Workday; Netsuite will plug into your social software from Yammer; GoodData will help visualize your client community results from GetSatisfaction; and Assistly plugs your customer support flow into Google Apps, which wraps all of this up in a robust marketplace for businesses. The mixing and matching of services that's common in our personal lives is now extending to the enterprise, and in turn driving vastly more open solutions that are changing the enterprise landscape.

    No, the Windows franchise isn't going anywhere. Inertia alone gives Microsoft another decade as the de facto enterprise operating system and software provider. With minimal innovation this could be extended even longer, but Apple has already made a profound impact by pushing us to rethink technology's role in our lives. It's changing the whole industry, and will have a lasting impact on our businesses.

    We have higher and more pronounced expectations for how technology can transform our personal lives – and now our business lives, making us more productive and connected than ever before. Welcome to the iEnterprise.

    --Aaron Levie is the CEO and co-founder of Box.net.

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