I was recently invited to Samsung’s Futurescape event to take a look at some of the company’s ideas on the future of work. I had no idea that Samsung was involved in the enterprise tech space but I suppose it makes perfect sense. The consumerisation of IT is an unstoppable trend, so of course the company which sells so many devices to consumers is going to be looking at how it can play a bigger role in the corporate IT infrastructure. The company currently has 120 people in the UK working exclusively on enterprise IT infrastructure and expects 25% of its business to come from B2B by 2020.
About a year ago Samsung released a technology called KNOX for Android, which enables devices on that platform to be effectively ‘containerised’ to keep personal and work data entirely separate. The idea is to make it safer for employers to allow their staff to use their own phones for work, because the business can exercise enterprise strength control over the work related part of the phone without ever having access to the user’s personal data. KNOX is gaining widespread approval and Google has recently integrated it into the Android system.
Another main topic of discussion was the growing wearables market, which is surprisingly turning out to be more than the passing novelty a lot of us expected. One of the things I learned in this session was that the devices are proving popular for environments where hands-free access to computing is useful, such as emergency services and logistics. It seems that the demand for wearables in enterprise is coming from roughly the same applications where ruggedised devices would be used.
Meeting and collaboration
I’ve thought for a long time that the number one current business technology that really needs to die a quick death is the conference call – they’re painful and unproductive. Samsung had some ideas to share around this space too, and showed off its vision of the future of conferencing which seems to be based on the idea of people being able to seamlessly participate in videoconference type meetings from multiple locations on whichever device they find most convenient.
The phrase used was “blurring the lines between physical and virtual meetings” – I think this makes a lot of sense, and personally can’t wait until the business world moves on from cold-war era conferencing technology. Whether the technology will work as well in practice as it does in my imagination remains to be seen…
I think this is all heading in an interesting direction. For decades technology innovation has been driven from the enterprise into our personal lives – we all got personal PCs and Blackberries because we used them at work and they just seemed so damned handy. But now it’s flowing back in the opposite direction, the tech we have as consumers is often far more advanced and intuitive than the clunky stuff we use at work, so businesses are being forced to move on from the safety and security of proven enterprise technology and adopt the platforms their employees are asking for.
Companies like Apple have largely ignored this opportunity, perhaps because enterprise infrastructure is scary and complicated, but if Samsung and others can help CIOs learn to love and trust their technologies, we could see radical changes to the world of work in the coming years.
(n.b. – Samsung is not a current or past client, and I have no commercial relationship with the company.)