Firms turn to consumer goods for productivity

The line between personal and enterprise tools may be blurring as organizations turn to consumer products to help them in the workplace.
Written by Sol E. Solomon, Contributor

Consumerization is invading the enterprise space as consumer goods increasingly gain importance within corporations as productivity tools.

In an Ovum report titled Enterprise Mobility: Holding Back the Tide of Consumerization, the research house noted that powerful technologies are progressively being developed for the consumer market first. Examples include instant messaging and social networking.

"Users deploy these in their personal lives and then want to take them into the workplace," the report noted.

However, Ovum added that the consumer devices not only have to be easy to maintain and control, enterprises require them to support enterprise applications within a security framework.

In an e-mail interview, president and CEO Woody Nam of LG Electronics Asia echoed those sentiments, adding that consumer products must be relevant to businesses and conform to technology standards. Through this, a wider range of consumer products can be compatible and interoperable with corporate back-end systems, and can run widely-used commercial business applications. Standards also simplify troubleshooting.

These then enable "a 'trickle-up adoption trend" where individuals are increasingly gaining influence over corporate purchasing patterns.

He added that the IT market is increasingly leaning toward vendors that deliver better price-performance, especially with today’s tightening consumer and corporate budgets.

Nam cited products such as LCD monitors, large-format TVs and computing products embracing industry standards compatible with enterprise systems. Examples include Windows Mobile and Symbian operating systems in smartphones and connector standards conformity in display products. In many cases, he added that products such as his company's "meet and exceed set standards to ensure longer lifecycles, future upgrade paths, and to mitigate asset redundancies".

But perhaps the greatest advance here comes from new converged devices. In an e-mail to ZDNet Asia, Sirpa Ikola, Nokia's Southeast Asia Pacific head of achieve category, said these types of gadgets "are increasingly being introduced to enable corporations to achieve greater efficiency and productivity, and to help employees manage their professional and personal lives better".

He noted that the smartphone market with its productivity-driven applications, in particular, has seen growth greatly fueled by the drive for corporate and personal efficiency and focus in the current economic crisis.

As costs versus the benefits of technology come under closer scrutiny, e-mail has become one of the essential drivers of efficiency and productivity, he said. For this, Nokia's Eseries of mobile devices was designed to optimize support for both corporate and personal e-mail on-the-go. E-mail applications include Mail for Exchange (Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync) and IBM Lotus Notes Traveler. There is also built-in encryption for both the device memory and the memory card, with the ability to wipe or lock the device for further data security.

"With direct access to Microsoft Exchange and IBM Lotus Notes, companies can potentially save up to a third of their operating costs as there's no need for middleware or additional server," Ikola said.

On another note, LG Electronics Asia's Nam said it also pays to be green. "We have announced benchmark eco-friendly technologies that will be integrated across all product categories. These 'green' technologies will be considerably more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly, fitting perfectly with both consumer and corporate efforts in cutting their carbon footprint and…contributing to corporate social responsibility mandates."

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