CES isn’t exactly the first conference that springs to mind when one thinks of enterprise events, but perhaps it should be.
The consumerisation of IT is a commonly accepted phenomenon. Technology emerges in the consumer market, and then naturally spreads to enterprise as business users bring their consumer behaviours into the workplace. BYOD is perhaps the most obvious example of this happening. Once upon a time, businesses had nothing but BlackBerrys, issued and maintained by the IT departments. Policies were designed to form an iron fence around the mobile estate. Cameras were switched off, personal emails and messaged were heavily restricted and life was good; until, that is, the iPhone came along, with its fancy touch screen, functional web browser and treasure trove of apps. Once those pesky consumerist employees got a whiff of the good life, there was simply no going back.
The consumerisation of IT is not just about the technology; it’s about expectations of both employees and customers. In order to remain competitive, today’s organisations must be agile, keeping up with both its customers and its staff.
“Now that consumer technology is readily available, easy-to-use and fast to deploy, a company’s ability to compete depends on enabling its employees so they can be productive wherever they are, around the clock,” explains TrendMicro.
With that in mind, MicroScope has turned its attention to some of the technologies on display at CES 2016 that are likely to trickle up to the enterprise in the coming years.
Internet of Things
For many, this is a buzzword that has already become tiresome; but the vendors are only just getting started and the concept is rapidly becoming the glue that binds everything at CES together. It’s taken a while for the industry to move past the clichéd ‘smart-fridge’ example (there are still plenty of smart-fridges on display at CES 2016) and begin to look for use cases that actually serve a purpose, but it is finally starting to happen.
For consumers, IoT is primarily focussed on home automation or smart homes. Security, doors, lights, and entertainment systems – all controlled via automation or simple voice commands. It’s a great idea, but as anyone who has dabbled in home automation will know, it’s a hugely disparate ecosystem at the moment, and it never quite works as it’s supposed to.
From an enterprise perspective, the same principles of home automation apply, but on an industrial scale. For businesses though, the true value of IoT lies in the data generated by the things, rather than the things themselves. Vendors such as Cisco, AWS, Intel and GE are investing huge amounts into IoT and it is starting to pay dividends.
Wearable technology is not currently living up to its own hype. Last year, everyone expected smartwatches to be the new smartphone; but as of right now, there is no consensus on exactly how useful a wrist-computer really is.
The vendors appear undeterred by the lukewarm reception and at CES this year, will continue to push the concept heavily.
Ironically, there are probably more uses for wearable technology in the enterprise that there are in the consumer space.
Tech press from around the globe had been expecting the announcement of a partnership between Google and Ford, in order to create a mass-producible driverless car. Alas, it wasn’t to be. Instead, Ford said that it would partner with other automakers to develop its own operating system, known as SyncConnect.
While smart-cars won’t necessarily have an impact on the enterprise anytime soon, the concept ties into the wider smart cities concept, which could be hugely lucrative for various industries. They might also prove useful for organisations with large sales teams or a mobile workforce.
This is perhaps the one thing you won’t find that much of at CES this year, despite underpinning all of connected technologies listed above, and thus, represents one of the largest channel opportunities out there at the moment.
You only need to look at VTech, the Hong Kong-based toymaker that suffered a significant data breach last year, with childrens’ photos and chat logs being stolen.
As IoT explodes, many vendors are focussing on the cool factor, without giving proper consideration to basic security.
Virtual and Augmented Reality
2016 is set to be the year that VR and AR become mainstream. Oculus Rift started taking pre-orders of its highly anticipated VR headset. HTC and Sony are also vying for a serious chunk of the pie with their respective headsets. Meanwhile, Microsoft is taking a different approach with its HoloLens, augmenting the real world with its virtual one.
Again, it’s difficult to see how or if these technologies will ever play a serious role in the enterprise. The vendors certainly seem to think they might.
Dell, Lenovo, HP and Samsung have all launched business-class computers at CES. The Lenovo T540p is a high performance laptop geared towards engineers, developers, and science laboratories. HP has added three new models to its EliteBook, while Samsung unveiled Galaxy Tabpro S, 2-In-1 Tablet with Windows 10.
Despite being geared towards an enterprise market, the fact that the vendors have chosen to launch their new products at a consumer show, serves as a stark reminder – win the consumers over and you will win in the enterprise too.