The Consumer Electronics Show Has Deep Meaning to the Enterprise


We’re witnessing all that the CES convention has to offer- a dizzying range of devices that range from useful and practical to strange – from forks that watch what you eat to TV’s that have touchscreens and can recognize people’s faces, to the latest convertible touchscreen hybrid everything machine.

It can be a little difficult to figure out what the significance this has to the enterprise.  However it’s not all just about the consumer gadgets and toys that are on display at the convention.  When we look at CES, we’re seeing the evolution and convergence of a number of influences in technology on the consumer, and it’s a mix that has had a surprisingly formidable influence on the enterprise.

Consumer convergence impacts IT

This year’s CES is being reported as the largest to date.  The floors are filled with gizmos of every stripe and influence, with everyone trying to ‘out-wow’ each other.  And while stacking more capability into everyday devices is fantastic, the themes are ruled by more convergence across the board, unifying the consumer experience by crossing the worlds of social, apps, internet, media, television, games, and so on.

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We see it in smartphones that focus on being able to make the most important user features easy to use in one place.  We see it in game consoles that have evolved into home media centers.  We see it in the multi-feature, multi-configuration tablet hybrid devices that are emerging.  The point is that the big goal consists of bringing all these realms of technology into one smooth and enriching experience.  For consumers it most certainly paints a wonderful picture of a world at your fingertips – for the enterprise this very same theme is consistent for what the future holds.

The phablet = productivity

One big phenomenon is the “phablet”.  Perhaps not the best word, but it’s, well, the best word for it.  The term describes a type of device that is somewhere between a smartphone and a tablet in form factor.  One of the biggest surprises of the last year was the success of the Samsung Galaxy Note device, a larger form-factor smartphone that fits into this category.

Samsung is now on its next generation of Galaxy Notes, and other manufacturers have certainly taken notice.  While boasting a number of features, these Android-based products have become popular based on a couple of interesting notions.  They clearly give the user more screen real estate, but more important, users get better productivity from having the increased screen space and apps that are designed to use that space.

Trends like these are important for IT to watch, as they illustrate new ways in which users satisfy their consumption and productivity needs.  Once upon a time the enterprise BYOD trend emerged from this very same base, and, based on the popularity of consumer devices, the mobile explosion became an IT reality and an important milestone to IT in the enterprise- for better or worse depending on which way you look at it.

Connected cars get serviced

A tremendous amount of floor space – more than 100,000 square feet – dedicated to automakers at CES.  This is a fascinating trend; if you’re not getting enough Cloud, this won’t be a problem anymore becausean ever-increasing amount of cloud and technology features integrated into your vehicle are available now.

These emerging elements include music subscriptions, GPS, news, integration with your smartphone – cars are just plain getting smarter.  This could open the door to any number of future enterprise innovations, particularly if your business has anything to do with driving, shipping, passengers, delivery, service, or commuting.

Smart TVs shine with opportunity

Smart TVs also present a fascinating opportunity as they become more technically advanced and integrate interaction with the viewer and the world beyond with video, voice, Internet, and social experiences, just to name few.  The opportunities for marketing, direct sales, and advertising are just one way to look at what it means to business.  It’s also another example of a convergence and user experience trend that the enterprise should observe.

The bottom line is that we can read the tea leaves of innovation from CES and extrapolate that nicely in the enterprise over and over again.  Not every device leads to a successful product, few devices will actually cross over; however the best way to reflect on this annual event is to look at the imaginative ways technology is advancing – that is an important reference point for businesses and the IT that supports it.