- CES held a surprising amount of content for the mobile enterprise. Wearables and the connected car were major themes, demonstrating interesting use cases and partnerships.
- AT&T’s Developer Conference, co-located with CES, highlighted a number of recent enterprise announcements around services, partnerships and infrastructure.
While we can (and frequently do) debate whether mobile consumer electronics devices and other B2C solutions are ‘consumer’ or ‘enterprise,’ it is clear that they are ‘both.’ Businesses investing in mobile solutions that ultimately improve their relationships and communications with their consumer customers (or provide their customers with new services and products from which they generate revenues) clearly have enterprise mobility issues to solve. At CES, wearables and the connected car were major themes. Wearables are potentially a large (if hugely hyped) market with some interesting enterprise use cases. Not only can smart watches and smart jewelry (and in theory products based on Google Glass) take over some business communication tasks from smartphones, but wearables seem likely to take hold as B2C solutions for fitness and health monitoring (e.g., connected ‘lifebands’ that monitor how far and how fast you walk, UV-tracking bracelets). Real enterprise usage still seems a long way off, however, even for smart watches and Google Glass applications.
The connected car, on the other hand, is real and growing, with carriers, OS providers (e.g., Google), auto OEMs, and the wider M2M and connected car ecosystem hawking their wares and announcing new products, services and partnerships. AT&T was especially active at CES, announcing deals with Audi and Tesla and inaugurating its AT&T Drive program, which includes Amdocs, Accenture, Jasper Wireless, Ericsson and Synchronoss as well as a mobile platform for developing LTE connected car services and a new 5,000-square foot dedicated R&D facility in Atlanta. GM announced the new capabilities it would be putting in its new models which also include AT&T 4G connections.
AT&T also talked about its controversial Sponsored Data service; a platform for leveraging subscriber data through APIs; the carrier’s ‘enablement framework’ for enterprise mobility (for both B2B and B2C apps); its platform and framework for providing APIs to business customers and partners; and its capabilities for ‘contextual’ communications. AT&T also announced an investment in Open Peak, the developer it is working with for its Toggle dual persona solution.
We have been talking about the consumerization of IT for a long time, but this is a slightly different twist. Consumer electronics is increasingly tied to mobility, and small and large businesses are developing solutions that leverage mobile technology to make better solutions for their customers, whether they are consumers or other businesses. This does not necessarily mean that enterprise mobility analysts have to start attending CES in droves, but it is extremely useful to pay attention to what mobility-enabled products consumers may be buying in the near future.