Hardware catches up to business mobility at CES 2016

Brid-Aine Parnell

Monday 11 January 2016

The cloud is ubiquitous, tablets are finally enterprise-ready and self-driving cars could have your employees working on their way into the office.

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is, as the name suggests, primarily a place to catch a glimpse of the latest consumer gadgets and gizmos. But that doesn’t mean that enterprise-level tech doesn’t get a look in.

The name of the game for businesses these days is mobility, but in the past, many firms tended to stick with the token offering of a smartphone for employees and not much more. Apart from the traditionally slow uptake of new trends, companies have been reluctant to go truly mobile until the technology was around to provide a full working environment for any staff member. From what was on show at CES, that time is now.

The cloud comes of age
The cloud no longer refers to a bunch of niche offerings or simple storage; today whole businesses operate happily with software and infrastructure-as-a-service, allowing employees to interact with the office from anywhere. Meanwhile, lower level applications – for example document sharing, collaborative office programs and communications – are better than ever, meaning workers in London, Bonn and Madrid can easily run a project together.

Companies as diverse as BMW and Cisco were touting their latest offerings at the show, proving that anyone and anything can connect to the cloud these days. BMW is jumping on the Internet of Things bandwagon with its intelligent Open Mobility Cloud, which connects smart home devices and phones with gadgets such as its Mobility Mirror – a car mirror and display that shows relevant updates and information. Meanwhile, Cisco is pushing video in the cloud to broadcasters and media firms with its Infinite Video service, which can deliver live and on-demand content.

Hard-working hardware
For businesses, the last piece of the puzzle has been hardware, with manufacturers seeking to position tablets as business-worthy devices by blurring the lines between laptops and tablets. Lenovo’s newly announced ThinkPad X1 Tablet can function as a tablet or a laptop, has a projector and 3D camera, and comes with customisable modules for presentations, improved battery life and more. When creating the X1 Tablet, the firm said it conducted in-depth research to find out exactly what IT professionals want in a device.

Speaking at the show Yang Yuanqing, chairman and CEO of Lenovo, said the hardware-maker’s overall strategy is to increase the productivity of devices by ensuring they are all connected to the cloud.

This year’s CES also showcased the possible future of business mobility. Self-driving cars could allow employees to start work on their commute, while augmented reality apps will be invaluable for sharing and manipulating blueprints or repair manuals, to name just a couple of examples.

With high-powered hardware and the cloud at their fingertips, businesses can truly go mobile now – and see the direction they’re heading in, too.

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