Wearables 2.0 at CES 2014: Richer Business Models And Enterprise Relevance

Las Vegas – Hello from the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2014, an industry gathering point for technology vendors, retailers, partners, media, and industry analysts. Like many, I’m here to meet with the innovators, witness demonstrations, and assess the state of the technology industry in 2014 (and beyond).

As they were at last year’s conference, wearables will be a very hot topic at CES 2014. But in the fast-moving world of technology, a year is a long time. In 2014, wearables will graduate to their 2.0 state. To understand this 2.0 iteration, Forrester released two new reports that clients can read and download. The first is an overarching view of the enterprise aspect of wearable technology, The Enterprise Wearables Journey. The second focuses on wearable health, Building A Fitter Business With Wearable Technology. Let me offer a sneak peak into why Wearables 2.0 is a critical topic.

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Predictions for 2014: Computing Technologies In The Age Of The Customer

I've published a report for Forrester clients, "Predictions 2014: Mobility and Computing Technologies in the Age of the Customer." This blog post offers a sneak peak into the content.

With 2013 coming to an end, it’s time to bring out the crystal ball and make some predictions about 2014. Those who follow Forrester’s research will know that we’re living in the age of the customer, a period in which customer obsession will be the key to winning in all markets. Computing is a critical technology element in the age of the customer: The use of tablets by sales professionals creates richer experiences for prospects and customers, even as the use of wearable technologies by health professionals helps phlebotomists find the vein in a patient’s arm more quickly. Computing is a front-line, customer facing experience that helps companies win and serve customers more effectively.

With that context in mind, I present six meta-trends that will be critical for computing in 2014:

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Dell, Tesla, Space X, and Taking Chances: From the Floor At DellWorld 2013

DellWorld 2013 showcases the newly-private Dell’s rediscovered sense of mission: Founder and CEO Michael Dell described the new company as the “world’s biggest startup.” Freed from the short-term orientation required of publicly traded companies, Dell can accelerate its innovation and risk-taking while following through on its emerging vision.

That vision is to help enterprise customers Transform (e.g. migrate from mainframes to the cloud), Connect (e.g. provide mobile devices and device management services), Inform (e.g. leverage big data analytics through software and services), and Protect (e.g. employ comprehensive security solutions).

Michael Dell spent a good deal of time emphasizing that Dell now has the opportunity to make bigger bets. To underscore that message, he invited Tesla and Space X CEO Elon Musk to appear onstage. Musk knows how to make an entrance, riding into the convention center in one of his company’s cars:

Elon Musk told several stories while onstage, including the revelation that, during Tesla's darkest hours, he pretty much figured the company would fail. But he listed his favorite aspect of the Tesla business as creating a sense of "delight" among the car's buyers -- including Michael Dell, who purchased one online.

Musk's presence emphasized a number of admirable qualities to which the new Dell aspires. Risk-taking, entrepreneurialism, disruption, and strategic vision. “We need more people like Elon out there taking big risks,” Michael Dell said at one point, reemphasizing the theme of taking chances. 

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Apple Purchases PrimeSense, Opening Up New Computing Experiences – And Enterprise Solutions

Apple has completed an acquisition of the Israeli firm PrimeSense, a sensing company whose technology has powered Microsoft’s popular Xbox Kinect for Xbox 360. (Microsoft moved to an in-house technology for the Xbox Kinect for Xbox One).

For the consumer market, Apple’s purchase opens up a number of tantalizing product possibilities:

  • Apple TV. The long-rumored Apple television set – as well as the long-extant AppleTV set top device – could both benefit from motion-sensing and depth/color sensing, particularly for next-generation interactive television applications.
  • Mobile and wearable products. PrimeSense has made a strong effort to miniaturize its components, and the next logical step would be to embed its technologies into mobile or wearable computing products. While often seen as a motion-sensing technology, PrimeSense is at base a depth- and color- perception technology that could potentially someday be used to recognize people – or to help the blind navigate the streets.
  • Customized e-commerce. In 2011, I wrote a report suggesting that Kinect and other sensing technologies could be used by companies to offer mass customized clothing and furniture. Imagine scanning your house – or your body – to receive custom-build cabinets or bespoke clothing shipped to you in short order. PrimeSense technology can already empower these mass customized scenarios.
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Driving Technologies That Will Delight Customers

Businesses that thrive and grow in the age of the customer are obsessed with customer delight: the most successful companies are reinventing themselves to systematically understand and serve increasingly powerful customers. This business reality creates new imperatives for everyone inside an organization, and infrastructure & operations (I&O) professionals are not immune. So the question becomes, how does I&O participate in the transformation of the enterprise toward customer obsession?

The answer to this question is important, because technology's role in business is rapidly changing -- from a world in which Information Technology (IT) enabled a company to function more efficiently, to a world of Business Technology (BT), which we define as technology, systems, and processes to win, serve, and retain customers. Yet customer-facing technologies aren't always (or even often) the traditional role of I&O. So how can I&O participate?

How about starting with a simple dictum? Spend more time on technologies that will inspire and delight customers, either directly or indirectly. To start this journey, I'd like you to watch this short video of how a digital billboard has gone viral:

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How Tablets Can Revolutionize The Sales Process

Over the past few years, tablets have reshaped computing for many enterprise workforces. But tablets aren't general-issue devices for all employees; instead, companies equip specific groups of employees with tablets -- with particular business goals in mind. High on the list of tablet-equipped roles are salespeople: According to IT decision-makers, sales professionals are the second most likely group of employees to receive company-owned tablets as standard-issue devices.

In a new report, "Empower Salespeople With Tablets To Drive Value For Your Business," we offer infrastructure & operations professionals some guidelines about how to deploy tablets to the salesforce at their companies. It's a different exercise than with traditional PC deployments: I&O professionals must work with business leaders, sales management, sales enablement professionals, and with sales reps themselves throughout the process. To reap the full rewards of tablets, the sales process itself must be reengineered, sales reps must be trained, and customer-facing software and materials must be developed. I&O can't do all of this alone, and must instead build new, deeper relationships with business partners.

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Wearables Will Change The Way Enterprises Work

Infrastruture & operations professionals should start following trends in the wearable computing market in earnest. While it's easy to deride wearables as riding a wave of hype -- and most categories of wearables enjoy more publicity than sales at this point -- wearables aren't just a consumer or bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend. Numerous vendors have taken a serious approach to developing and launching products for the enterprise wearable market, and some of these devices offer comapanies a real opportunity to generate business value.

I've just posted my new ComputerWorld column with an analysis of these trends. Please read the entire article here.

J. P. Gownder is a Vice President and Principal Analyst at Forrester Research. Follow him on Twitter at @jgownder.

How Voice Controlled Intelligent Agents Can Reshape Computing

Apple's Siri for iPhone and iPad, Google Now for Android, Samsung S-Voice for its Android phones and tablets, and Microsoft's Xbox/Bing voice command have all played a role in popularizing the use of voice control. Forrester’s workforce survey reveals that 37% of information workers who have smartphones say they use voice command at least occasionally. So voice control is already a mass-market behavior.

But users haven’t truly embraced voice control just yet: Only 3% of information workers say they "use it all the time," while only 1% claim it's their "preferred way to use a phone." When they do use voice control, it’s for short-task computing activities like sending a text, conducting a quick search, or activating maps and navigation. As of today, voice control remains a nice-to-have, an adjunct to “real” computing interfaces.

But in a new Forrester report published today, we argue that voice control itself isn’t the main story. Rather, it’s about the new breed of data-rich intelligence – which we call intelligent agents – that will bring voice control to the masses.

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PC and Mobile: There Can Only Be One Industry, As Lenovo’s Rumored Purchase of HTC Reiterates

Rumors have been swirling for a couple of months that Beijing-based Lenovo might purchase New Tapei, Taiwan-based HTC Corporation. Following Google’s acquisition of Motorola and Microsoft’s purchase of (most of) Nokia, the move could make sense, given Lenovo’s stated strategy of becoming a “PC-Plus” company with a new focus on mobility.

As I predicted recently, there will be a forthcoming wave of industry consolidation. But what we mean by “the industry” is itself changing. My colleague Frank Gillett has been tracking this evolution for some time, having asserted in 2012 that the analytically sound way to look at operating systems combined mobile and PC OSes. There’s no separation, effectively, between PC and mobile hardware vendors. It’s one industry now.

Geeks Will Know: The Photo’s From Highlander

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Wearable Computing For Enterprises Could Be Bigger Than For Consumers

Wearable computing devices (like Google Glass, Jawbone Up, Nike+ FuelBand, iHealth, and Samsung Galaxy Gear, among others) have made a big splash in the consumer market. My colleague Sarah Rotman Epps’ analysis shows that Google Glass could be the next big App Platform. Fitness wearables might be a bit overhyped, but it’s nevertheless becoming common to see people sporting Nike+ FuelBand devices everywhere you go. No less a tech industry luminary than Mary Meeker recently declared wearables the next wave of computing (see slide 49).

Exciting as the consumer wearable space is becoming, I’d like you to turn your attention for a moment to an example from the enterprise space -- specifically, the Connected Law Enforcement Officer Of The Future, as posited by Motorola Solutions.

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