We are into the week when most folks are on vacation and I thought I’d use this time to revisit my three favorite IT products and/or services from the last year. These are the ones that stand out in my mind as well ahead of the pack and stand as examples of excellence, defining the best that was 2012.
They are all over the map, so here we go.
One of the biggest problems that CIOs were screaming about in 2012 was a massive trend of line employees using public cloud services from companies like Amazon and Google. The worst story was of a pharmaceutical company where a couple of researchers, not wanting to pay around $150K for IT services that would have arrived too late anyway, instead used on-line resources and $3,500 to do the same project. These employees received an award for saving money, but once security found out what they had done, they were fired the following day for violating the firm’s security policy.
IT managers were only learning of these activities after the fact and generally because finance was flagging credit card expense submissions with invoices tied to Amazon as credit card misuse and then finding they were for unapproved (by IT) services. The only company that really stepped up to addressing this problem was BMC first with its Cloud Boot Camp and then this year with MyIT.
MyIT was its branded effort to provide IT with a competitive service to the Amazons and Googles of the world, allowing IT to survive and flourish during this time of public cloud activities. Nicely done.
Lenovo X Series
We all live with laptops and typically form a love/hate relationship with them. I get a ton of laptops in to use and test during the year, but one stood out and that was the Lenovo X Series. Lenovo, which now owns the old IBM ThinkPad line, has done a fantastic job in a market that believes PCs are dead by growing double digits and doing what IBM wasn’t able to do in the 1990’s and truly challenge for leadership in the market.
The company was the most-prepared vendor during the Windows 8 launch recently, and it has during 2012 had some of the more iconic products to challenge Apple’s innovation leadership. But it was the X Series that truly captured my heart in the laptop space this year and its iconic black design, still-fantastic ThinkPad keyboard and fast-charging battery, coupled with one of the first instances of powered-when-off USB ports (so you can charge your phone while the Laptop is powered off), stand out in my mind as setting a bar that few, including Apple, were able to meet.
It is a powerful product from an ever-more-popular company — stunning work.
Windows 8 RT/Surface
One of the other big problems IT was facing was the influx of tablets running iOS and Android, which couldn’t be managed and forced IT, in a BYOD world, to support consumer offerings that didn’t, and generally couldn’t, be brought into compliance with policy. Most thought that Microsoft’s attempt to create a version of Windows for ARM processors was brain-dead stupid and wouldn’t fly, but the Microsoft Surface Tablet running Windows RT has been surprisingly popular, but not just with consumers, also with IT managers who wanted an alternative to the iPad that could actually be secured and better managed. While clearly not perfect, Windows RT and the Surface tablet (which became my favorite device to carry) were the best generation-one products I’ve ever had the privilege to carry and represent one of the highest points in Microsoft execution ever.
I really didn’t think I would like this offering and yet, largely thanks to its 10 hour + battery life and paper-light weight, it became my favorite laptop at year-end. It’s kind of amazing when I think back on it.
It is also amazing how quickly 2012 went by, and given many of the events, I’m thankful it is almost gone. Still, with excellent efforts by companies like BMC, Lenovo, Microsoft (and NVIDIA, which did the Surface internals), I had a number of times that were memorable for positive reasons. I’m thankful for that and expect we will have a ton more in 2013.
It is great to see vendors step up and here is hoping we have many more examples of excellence in 2013.