I wanted a good title, so this is what I came up with.
The rise of Apple, mobile devices, and the quandary Microsoft currently finds itself in with the uncertainty at CEO along with product issues (Windows Phone, Windows 8, etc.) is providing a unique opportunity for 3rd party software providers to get into colleges and universities by providing a better experience than Microsoft can offer with the influx of non-Microsoft devices.
Providing services for all platforms is where these 3rd parties need to be headed. While the “cloud” might sound all fluffy, there are concerns about security and control which need to be addressed but they need to be addressed in such a way that there is still flexibility as to what devices can be used and where. That is a weak point right now.
Apple isn’t going to provide it, and Google is going to keep it to themselves s (on their own servers and services) so it leaves an opening. Companies who have been pushed into the background would do well to take advantage of this unique opportunity.
I added Collegiate to the title because I see it where I work. Students no longer use the file server space we provision for them and even many faculty and staff members have gone outside to find the flexibility they crave. Providing a solution to provide flexibility along with appropriate amounts of control would go a long way to solving many issues.
When I entered college in 2005 it was still relatively rare for an undergraduate to have a laptop (at least where I went, a small private college in the midwest). Now, however, a single student will have three or four distinct devices attached to their name … and that doesn’t even count the ride of Xbox and Playstation as not just a staple for gaming entertainment, but entertainment in general. I spent the better part of a couple of days figuring out which headers our firewall was stripping from just the Playstation 3’s Netflix application because it was affecting enough students on campus for someone to finally contact me.
Those are huge changes and more are on the way. Just today a student showed up with a 7″ ASUS Windows tablet and was having issues connecting to WiFi on campus. Besides being an abysmal experience (I’m sorry, it just is for me), it is ANOTHER new type of device to try to take account of.
The pace of change means that IT departments are looking for ways to continue to provide tools to students and faculty. 3rd parties have a great opportunity right now to provide something, anything, to make this easier and/or better.
It won’t be there forever.