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Last week I headed west to Las Vegas for CES – officially known as the Consumer Electronic Show. From SAP’s perspective it is almost becoming the “Corporate Electronics Show” – and it’s the birthplace for many mobile and wireless innovations.

 

We were asked many times “Why is SAP at CES?” The answer is a pretty easy one – employees are consumers – and we walk in the office door with the expectation that IT will support new technologies that we want. According to Enterprise Efficiency, the line between consumer technology and enterprise technology is fading fast. I agree with editor Curtis Franklin who recently wrote “Today, the question isn't whether a given product is consumer or business tech, but whether it will do a given job. It's a radical change -- but one that's bringing more productivity and creativity into the enterprise.”

 

I had the pleasure of traveling with SAP’s CIO, Oliver Bussmann, for the second time. Oliver enjoys exploring the products, trends, and technologies at CES, knowing that they will quickly make their way to the workplace.  Our goal while at CES was to explore these innovations and find the cool stories and insights to share with you. In addition to the 4K TVs, the smart fork that buzzes when you eat too quickly, and the electric skateboard that goes 17 mph, there were a few key hilights that are relevant to the enterprise that are well worth sharing. Below are a few key topics that were pervasive at the show. But first, check out the video we recorded on the show floor.

 

An Explosion of Connected Gadgets and the “Internet of Things”

Before the conference, I expected that 2013 would be the year of the gadget at CES – and I was right. The show featured everything from vacuum cleaners that you can activate from your smartphone to connected appliances and smart homes (we stopped at the ADT connected home), to smart health bracelets and smart vehicles – even the vibrating fork is connected to your smartphone. This is a very exciting area for SAP as we often talk about the “Internet of Things” and our increasingly connected world. We expect the explosion of connected devices and associated data to significantly impact the enterprise in the years to come. Oliver believes that savvy CIOs will be able to gather and analyze information from these connected devices that they can use to improve customer service, introduce new types of services, or find new products for their companies’ existing products and services. 

 

Consumerization Lives On.

Smart devices are a big part of the consumerization story, but they are not the full story. Oliver was quoted in a Wall Street Journal blog as saying “CIOs have to allow employees to use their personal mobile devices for work purposes, irrespective of their concerns about security. There will be resistance among some CIOs, but I think those CIOs will not survive.”  Consumerization today has moved beyond hardware to changing software and service models. Consumerization is reflected in concepts like bringing personal apps to work, changing how support is delivered and changing how IT interacts with employees. Oliver was interviewed by  Computerworld and shared an internal mobile app success story – the SAP variation of cloud-based filesharing for document and content management. The mobile app provides an important alternative to unsecure consumer-based file sharing services like DropBox, which Bussmann feels is necessary to protect corporate documents.

 

Did CES predict the disappearance of the laptop?

Is the PC really going to die off?  My smartphone and tablet are the center of my digital galaxy. But I am starting to wonder if these technologies will eventually replace the laptop.  I was underwhelmed by the PC vendors who had little news to share at the conference.  Last year at CES 2012, tablets were big and a lot of Android devices were announced. This year tablets and smartphones were still in the news with several Windows 8 devices being shown and even some excitement around BlackBerry 10. These expanding platforms are providing even more choice for  consumers.

 

Before laptops go the way of the dinosaurs, some things will have to change – including the way we interact with devices. Have you ever tried to swipe your laptop monitor, or wished you could dictate into your laptop with the click of a button? Oliver believes that we’ll use technology that relies on gestures, voice and sensors instead of keys on a keyboard and a mouse. In this article from Tabtimes, Oliver predicts the demise of the laptop. Over time we’ll have touchscreens and maybe a keyboard, but he’s event doubtful that the keyboard will survive in the next 3-5 years. Carpal tunnel sufferers rejoice!

 

Overall, CES remains the best place in the world to take the pulse of the consumer electronics business. I was only able to scratch the surface in 2 days, but I encourage you to check out some of these hilights by watching the video of Oliver at CES. Hopefully this blog and video give you a taste of what the show was about. We hope to see you there next year!

 

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