Consumerization of technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace. After pondering the announcements at CES, Mobile World Congress and the Apple watch event, I’m even more convinced that consumer technology will continue to profoundly impact enterprise technology. In the plethora of recent consumer announcements, we can see a glimpse the Workplace of the Future. Specifically:
1. Video is everywhere. Cameras are everywhere. The selfie generation will create a new normal in the workplace where video is just expected. It won’t be confined to a room or a PC. The Dick Tracy video smartwatch is here. Meerkat, an app that allows users to live-stream video to their Twitter account, was the hit of SXSW. Companies are also launching video capable messaging platforms for smartwatches. Glide offer live video messaging experience for leading smartwatch platforms, such as Android Wear and the Apple Watch. Video will be embedded in our software and business processes. For example, employees will capture video memos to append to systems of record and engagement, such as customer records and insurance claims. Customer care agents will use video to walk customers through installs and repairs. But companies aren’t taking this trend seriously because they remember video as complex, expensive and tied to a room. Companies must plan for video, which means more data bandwidth, more storage and new databases that can process unstructured data.
2. Wearables will enter the enterprise and smartbands will extend their useful life. Apple’s entrance into the market will stimulate a wave of applications innovation and make the product category more desirable. Lopez Research clients are asking about wearables, which means IT and marketers are anticipating a day when business data is sent to our wrists or our glasses. Companies, unlike consumers, tend to keep hardware for 3 years if possible. Purchasing a smartwatch is a risky value proposition if the technology changes every 6 months. However, Pebble may be one of the first companies to work on this issue. At MWC, it announced the concept of smart straps that can be updated and communicate with main brain of the wearable. It’s a great idea for improving the overall life of the product. It opens up innovation and the ability to add new data sources as specific sensors become cheaper.
3. Virtual reality starts in gaming, but ends up at the office. While virtual reality glasses are still heavy and a bit geeky, the advancements in within the past year have been phenomenal. At MWC, HTC and Valve announced the HTC Vive, a virtual reality platform and hardware for PCs. We now have the Oculus Rift, Sony’s Project Morpheus, and Microsoft’s Hololen as contenders for the VR space. While all eyes have been on Google Glass and Vuzix in the enterprise space, I’d put money on one of these more consumer gaming oriented companies partnering with a software company to offer compelling enterprise software. This space is exciting, but enterprise applicability is likely 3 years out. Most of the glasses won’t enter real production until 2016, assuming they launch on time. The several versions of a product are rarely great, but within 5 years you could be wearing these glasses at work. Picture a world of truly interactive meetings, training videos, and augment field service repair solutions.
4. Wireless charging will change office requirements. A company’s employees may be carrying three or more devices into the office if we include smartphones, tablets and wearables. Companies need to start thinking about adding wireless charging stations to conference rooms, public areas and desks. Starbucks, the entrepreneurs’ office away from the home, has already started the trend with Powermat wireless charging.
5. User authentication becomes easier for employees and harder for IT. It was much easier for IT when an employee only needed a card key to access the building and a password for their laptop. In the future, IT will need to authenticate users and secure data access on wearables, smartphones and other computing devices. At the same time, companies like Dell and Intel are embedding facial recognition into PCs, 2n1s and tablets. For example, a consumer can unlock access to their computer and log into commerce sites using facial recognition, voice and a third factor authentication such as a smartphone. Microsoft has embraced the FIDO alliance and plans to add biometric access. Smartphone manufacturers, such as Apple and Samsung, are enabling fingerprint recognition to access the phone. ZTE added EyeVerifySecurity software and companies like Brivo Labs are already discussing contextual security based on wearables. Employees will expect their corporate services to be as easy to access as they are at home. This will be a fundamental shift from today’s username and password authentication systems that are based on Microsoft’s Active Directory.
Of course, there are other consumer solutions that will impact specific verticals. For example, Apple’s HealthKit, especially as an open source solution, will change research and customer care in the healthcare industry. And imagine how Google’s Android Auto and Apple’s CarPlay might evolve to change fleet tracking and preventative maintenance for logistics and automotive companies. The lines between consumer and business innovation have substantially blurred. What’s important is not where the innovation was originally targeted, but how a company takes an innovation from any market and creatively applies it to their business.
This article was written by Maribel Lopez from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.