The PC is not dead, despite the hype. But the concept of personal computing is evolving rapidly into a new era of the “Personal Cloud,” according to Gartner. In a new special report, the company says that mobility, always-available data, apps and cloud-based virtualized processes are moving the “personal cloud” to the center of our digital experiences. Accessing a pool of data and tools optimized to desktop PCs, mobile phones, tablets and a range of emerging devices will define the future of both enterprise and consumer computing.
“Emerging cloud services will become the glue that connects the web of devices that users choose to access during the different aspects of their daily life,” says Steve Kleynhans, Research VP at Gartner. Rather than call it a “post-PC” era, Kleynhans proposes that we conceive of this as a paradigm shift in which people are freed from old device-centric constraints to imagine entirely new ways to incorporate computing processes into everyday life.
Gartner identifies five drivers toward the Personal Cloud. The Consumerization of workplace IT has moved the center of gravity in innovation toward the employees. Technology has been democratized throughout the organization and innovation is as likely to come from users as anyone else.
Virtualization has moved ever more processes that once relied on specific device capabilities into the cloud. The hardware is less and less important as low-power and small-screen devices can access operations that far exceed their local capabilities.
What Gartner calls “App-ification” is a change in the way apps are made, distributed and consumed. A single application can change its shape and functionality according to what device it is on, its location and the use case.
The ever-presence and infinitude of the cloud means that every user has access to a limitless choice of functions. Users will bring much higher expectations to computing processes and will be able to determine which ones they want to use.
Finally, mobile technology combined with the cloud trade off the limitations of devices with the convenience of accessing services anywhere. The acceleration of mobile interfaces into touch, gesture and voice now allow devices to become primary computers in many instances.
The Personal Cloud will sublimate the importance of any one device in the end, Gartner says.