Dear Santa: Here's My Tech Wish List
By Samuel Greengard
Here are the technology gifts I'd like for this holiday season:
My work state everywhere: Services such as Dropbox and SugarSync are great; Apple's iCloud is a huge step forward; and the ability of Chrome and Safari to view open tabs on other devices is a huge convenience. But the Holy Grail is to open a device—any device—and see my entire work environment there.
A digital wallet: Google wallet, Square and others have taken steps in the right direction. Apple's Passbook shows promise but has a really long way to go to be truly useful. Would someone please step forward and offer a full-blown digital wallet?
A bold interface redesign: Desktop and laptop computer interfaces are becoming as creaky as a 100-year-old rocking chair. Let's dump skeuomorphic design and build a new GUI that's attuned to speech, gestures and today's digital sensibilities. Are you listening Redmond and Cupertino?
Make me the master of my computer and data: It's mind-boggling that advertisers and others can drop software onto a computer without permission (think third-party cookies and tracking bugs). Imagine if someone wanted to plant microphones and cameras in your house and you had no say about it. How about opt in rather than opt out?
Put analytics to work: We hear a lot of hype about analytics and big data, but most organizations are woefully lagging in designing solutions that actually work. It would be great to receive truly targeted marketing materials and have companies recognize me as a good customer and treat me accordingly.
Provide electronic receipts: Macy's, Lowe's, Nordstrom and Sears are among those that have joined Apple in offering e-receipts. But there's still an amazing number of retailers that fail to offer this highly convenient and green option. What are you waiting for?
Improve the mobile experience: You would think that by now all IT executives would know that there are devices called iPads and iPhones. Customers and employees use them a lot. So how about programming Websites to work with these devices and mobile browsers—or build an app for that.
Deliver electronic banking: It's remarkable that electronic banking has been around for more than a decade, but most accounts payable departments still send paper checks. Meanwhile, banks limit daily and monthly deposit amounts from mobile apps. Can't we get to a paperless system?
Create smarter email: Despite radical advances in IT, most email clients are just plain stupid. Apple has made some improvements with its VIPs, but in an era of mind-blowing algorithms, it's amazing that no one can provide a better filtering and message management system. And while we're at it, what about authenticating email to nix spam and ensure that my address doesn't get spoofed?
Design smartphone-enabled appliances and devices: A few manufacturers and appliance makers have begun to integrate controls with smartphones and tablets, but we need way more of this type of thing. Think automobiles, microwaves, wall ovens, washers and dryers, and home lighting and climate controls.