Just for fun, I went to the search bar on the Web site for the Consumer Electronics Showcase taking place in Las Vegas this week and typed “BYOD.” No results. “Did you mean BOYD?” it wondered.
Hopefully the topic of bring-your-own-device (BYOD) will manifest itself elsewhere at the trade show over the next few days, because it’s a trend that completely recasts the nature of CES and its influence on the overall technology market. There was a time when CES was primarily aimed at retailers looking for something new to show off in their stores. For the business stuff – the technology that would run enterprises and governments – you turned to the now-defunct Comdex, or something similar. Even if they had business uses, most organizations were unlikely to purchase the kind of new and shiny toys that fill the Las Vegas Convention Centre. Now, however, employees are voting on IT tools with their own pocketbooks, and CES may represent an early glimpse of what IT departments will have to contend with later in the year.
Experts have indicated this year’s CES will highlight two major things: ultra high-definition televisions (UHD TVs) and technologies to control everyday objects via tiny embedded sensors. Both of these have clear and obvious corporate implications, whether CIOs recognize them immediately or not. Everyday families may be reluctant to pay more for screens that offer extra-clear resolutions of their favourite TV shows, but in companies that are embracing videoconferencing as part of next-generation collaboration, UHD might make the difference between seeing important details of charts, presentations and company logos and having to squint.
As for sensors, if you can open a door laden with sensors via your smartphone, why wouldn’t companies start doing away with passcards that must be swiped everytime employees enter or leave their headquarters? If a sensorized surfboard can tell surfers where their weight should be distributed, couldn’t similar technology be used to track usage of various boardrooms and other common office space? This is not how we think about “mobilization” today, but sensor-related data could become a significant part of network traffic before too long.
Since I started covering the tech space more than 15 years ago, the coverage of CES has gone more and more “mainstream.” Expect some of the most far-out gadgets to get a short spot on your local nightly newscast, or mentioned in your local newspaper. That’s all it takes for consumers who are nowhere near Las Vegas to begin thinking about how and whether they might use such technologies in their personal and professional lives. IT managers and CIOs need to do the same, in order to begin thinking about how to effectively manage the expectations around this year’s hottest consumer technologies before the demands start rolling in. CES 2013 could put a lot of BYOD policies to the test. Don’t fail.
Find out how Allstream handled consumer tech with its BYOD Lite program.