From The Editor | August 30, 2010

Consumer Influence — Enterprise Gain?

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By Sarah Howland, Editor In Chief, Integrated Solutions magazine

Over the years, I’ve interviewed end users of all sizes for stories you’ve seen on the cover of this magazine — from small, privately owned HVAC companies like CMS Mechanical to large, billion dollar utilities like Exelon Corp. I’ve talked with companies about the catalysts for their technology investments, challenges they faced during installation, tips for training success, and the ROI from their mobile solutions. I’ve also had conversations with almost every vendor that matters in this space — from providers of mobile computing hardware, field service software, and asset management solutions to M2M (machine-tomachine), wireless connectivity, and RFID (radio frequency identification) — about how technology is evolving and what product features end users are demanding. So I’m excited to write this column about the technologies I’ve grown to care about — to have this platform to discuss trends in the mobility industry and the topics that matter most to you.

Excitement Over Consumer Impact Evident At Industry Events
A topic that has come up in many of my industry conversations recently is the extent to which consumer technology is currently impacting the enterprise space. For instance, I attended the announcement of Motorola’s new ES400 device in New York in June. The ES400 looks like a smartphone I’d carry for personal use, but is built for rugged enterprise use. Motorola felt the market needed a product with enterprise functionality and durability but with the appeal of a consumer device to entice and engage the user. While attending GIS (geographic information system) vendor Esri’s annual user conference in July, I experienced firsthand the excitement of software users over Esri’s ready-to-use apps available for the iPhone and iPad. Everyone is familiar with app buzz in the consumer world, and the enthusiasm at Esri’s conference illustrates how this buzz is transferring to business applications.

There’s no doubt in my mind that enterprise products will continue to take on some characteristics of consumer technology. How will this impact your company? It depends. If your mobile workforce is tech-savvy, your implementation could be streamlined thanks to the inclination of your employees to want to use new technology. If your mobile workers are technology-resistant, the consumer- influenced technology doesn’t help your struggle at all — you’re right back to the age-old challenges of communicating the need for and benefit of the technology, obtaining employee buy-in, and training workers to use the technology effectively. No matter what your organization’s position, I’ll do my level best to keep you informed of the field technologies available and the business case for deploying them. If you have suggestions for technologies or topics you’d like to see more of in Integrated Solutions, I’m happy to hear from you.