A CES enterprise surprise

The annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is usually abuzz with mass-market, entertainment products, but there is also plenty of insight on technologies that will make their mark in the enterprise market.

The 2013 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) was the usual media frenzy, with as many new technology announcements as ever. Although CES focuses on mass-market, consumer products, entertainment, and services, it does provide a preview of technologies and products that will most likely enter the enterprise market eventually. It also gives IT departments some idea of what the corporate end user is going to expect in terms of corporate IT services, user interfaces, and service flexibility.

Mobility, cloud-based services, and end-user empowerment

Mobility, cloud-based services, and end-user empowerment were the major themes of many of the new products and services on display at CES. Another prominent topic was the “Internet of Things” or the “Internet of Everything.” Manufacturers introduced devices of all kinds with wireless capabilities, and unveiled enhanced versions of existing devices that had been upgraded with flexible applications such as location-based services, text messaging, and alerts. Many of these products will make their way into the enterprise; CES has become a key forum for IT departments to gain a comprehensive view of things to come. Ignoring the 3D TVs, personal gadgets, and home automation offers on display, many of the new services, service models, and related end-user interfaces at CES are premonitions of the future challenges within enterprise ICT.

Consumerisation through end-user customisation and control

Many of the new services on display at CES offer users the ability to customise, control, or modify them using web portals or even voice commands. In time, users will come to expect intuitive web tools and speech-to-text capabilities in the workplace, just they now expect realtime, Google-like Internet interfaces and graphics within business applications. The corporate end user will see the flexibility and customization available within many of the consumer products and start to ask for the same capabilities in enterprise services and devices.

Integrated wireless and user-friendly interfaces are everywhere

Traditionally, CES has been the conference for new consumer devices, but now smartphone, tablet, and PC manufacturers are there, and they are embedding wireless as a basic feature. Wireless-enabled devices are now commonplace, and many will find their way into the enterprise. In addition, most services now have very intuitive user interfaces. Employees will come to expect any device used within the enterprise to have integrated wireless and a very user-friendly interface.

Anytime, anything, anywhere

Many of the services at CES provide “always-on” wireless connectivity, and connectivity between many disparate devices. Mobility and connectivity are becoming common for almost any device that has a power source. Customers expect services to work all the time, no matter where they are. Similarly, employees expect corporate devices to offer real-time updating, always-on connectivity, 24/7 availability, and detailed tracking information. This will put increasing pressure on IT departments to provide enterprise applications that integrate wireless connectivity, and allow mobile access and reporting.

Mike Sapien is a principal analyst for Ovum's enterprise practice division.