Cisco's Flip Flop

Sorry,  I couldn’t resist the heading for this post.  As you will find out during the course of reading my blog, I dearly love words, their meanings, and how they intermingle and create alternate meanings.  I’m a textbook polysemaniac.  But enough of that.

If you follow the blogosphere, you will have noticed that Cisco recently announced it was shuttering its Flip camera division.  Depending on the industry you are in, this may not have meant much to you, but to many in education, it is significant.  This simple to operate video camera was becoming a foundational piece of technology in a number of schools, providing a cost effective, easy way for students to create and share media.

Cisco has restructured to get back to its core business line, but rather than sell off a division that was holding its own, it decided to close it.   With the ever increasing video recording capacity of smart phones, it is tough to justify buying a single purpose device… but the niche education market found the Flip camera entirely appropriate, since they cannot build curriculum around the expectations that students will bring their own smart phones.

The demise of Flip was unexpected by many.  Who would of thought that a product with an established market, from a major company would suddenly go away?    Why wouldn’t I build strategy around a product such as this?

In today’s IT world, the real issue here for IT leaders is this – we should not be building our strategy around endpoint devices.  I would be so bold as to suggest that this would extend to the devices our employees use at work.  We can no longer be prescriptive around the tools our constituents use.

I do know all the arguments about standardization, and management, and let’s face it, control.  It’s just that the game is changing.

In 2007 Gartner Group predicted that by 2012, over half of technology decisions (with regards to the technology they use) would be made by employees themselves rather than IT. If you believed them, you would have started planning how you would change your delivery model through virtualization (both application and desktop) and looking at hosted solutions on the Internet (now called Cloud).  The technologies were immature at the time, but have made great strides.

We are still responsible to maintain the availability, integrity and security of the information that flows on our network.  Rather than wrap up all the management in the endpoint, we have to be open to seeing the network itself as our killer app, and our medium, rather than traditional IT management.

This won’t happen overnight.  If I was the CIO in a bank, in government, or a host of other industries, the transition away from managed endpoints is a complex process swamped with potential issues.  But that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t have to lead the change.

While the Cisco Flip phone is a small blip in the technology landscape (if you call $590M a blip), it shows how a technology product from a major vendor considered safe, might just go away.   Just to jog your memory… I used to buy IBM computers that ran on a Nortel Network.

Please note: This posting was also submitted as my entry on Blogging Idol ( http://blogidol.ca )


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