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Enterprise IT: No Special Treatment at 2013 CES

January 7, 2013 – With increasing crossover between business and consumer tech, CIOs should keep an eye on the new gadgets coming out  at the 2013 International CES, the annual consumer electronics gala that kicks off Tuesday in Las Vegas. But a trio of independent analysts don’t expect consumer device and application vendors to bend over backward for enterprise IT and CIOs. 

Last year’s event caused ripples in the “trickle-up” power of consumer IT into business intelligence, as well as impressions on enterprise possibilities with hardcore presentations. Ahead of this year’s CES event, which includes conference tracks on BYOD, enterprise-side analysts from Saugatuck Technology, Aberdeen and Forrester Researchedshared with Information Management some overarching themes that CIOs and IT leaders can take from the consumer event.

Alex Bakker, analyst, researcher and blogger with a specialty area in enterprise mobility at Saugatuck Technology, says a takeaway developing from CES and other consumer events is that because hardware makers can directly appeal to end users, “there is little incentive” to make it easy for enterprise IT.

“They don't really need the enterprise's blessing,” says Bakker. “Additionally, the third-party mobile device management/mobile application development vendors that work with the various mobile operating systems on the market today fill a sufficient void that device and OS vendors need not concern themselves with developing these specialty capabilities, especially in a market where the amount and type of [mobile device management]/[mobile application management] necessary is on a continuum between companies, and not at all a ‘one-size-fits-all’ model.”

Along with releases of new mobile devices, Bakker says a big trend coming out of CES and other consumer-side events that will be directly felt at the enterprise level is capabilities from “augmented reality” via smartphones, tablets, dashboards and camera feeds. Connecting more devices, and thus, more data sources inside and outside the enterprise, will expand the way advanced analytics are consumed and contribute to expectations from end users of enterprise data sets, Bakker says.

Andrew Borg, research director on mobility and social at Aberdeen, estimates organizations that don’t harness enterprise mobility best practices miss an 18 percent annual increase in decision-making speed and 14 percent improvement in workforce productivity. Borg cited recent examples from vendors like Google, Amazon and Microsoft of consumer mobile releases that are later tooled up for business use as “downward pressure on profit margins eventually makes the enterprise grass look greener.” In terms of consumer-side releases at CES and elsewhere making a direct impact on the enterprise this year, Borg is paying particular attention to gamification, video and 3D, and “gesture-based” computer control like Kinect.

The increased nods to enterprise capabilities and connections at CES this year are part of a growing, natural crossover, which savvy CIO and IT leaders should already be mindful of, says Forrester Research VP and Principal Analyst Ted Schadler. IT departments themselves reflect part of the enterprise that Schadler calls “avid adopters” of new personal tech, and new consumer releases and developments give insight into how “to get work done with or without IT support.”

“The vendors are pitching directly to employees and business stakeholders because they know IT is more a gatekeeper than a product champion. But they are also mindful of the barriers that security, administration, and price play in turning an individual or departmental customer into an enterprise customer. So they are learning to play to both audiences,” Schadler says.

In general, Schadler sees four areas of announcements from CES as holding particular attention for varying reasons: anything from Apple or Google; releases related to “wearable” computing devices; major announcements like Surface Pro from Microsoft; and breakthroughs in television and “frame PCs” (or tablet docking stations).

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