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Client Device Of The Future: Vendor And VAR Insights

The world of mobility is moving ahead at full speed. Vendors and VARs give insight on directions in which they see mobility moving in the near future.

As mobility has become an integrated part of life in the enterprise world, vendors and VARs are looking at hardware and software solutions that will further enhance end users' mobile experiences. For starters, some see the world of mobility evolving toward shared public spaces.

Aaron Freimark, CTO of New York-based Apple solution provider and reseller Tekserve, said he envisions a further downsizing of devices carried around and an increasing use of shared screens. Though he does not typically concern himself with speculation, Freimark said he hopes the future enables users to carry no more than a smartphone or smaller identifying piece in a pocket that will enable anyone to access data through a shared screen.

"Screens are just going to be around and we will be able to walk up and use them. It's all going to be data that lives in the cloud and we're essentially going to have our identity to carry around," Freimark said. "You'll walk up to some sort of public station or public terminal. It will be able to recognize you because of a phone or identity credential in your pocket. Then the screen will be yours, and you'll have trust in the security of it and access to all of your data."

[Related: 10 Cutting-Edge Mobile Devices Breaking New Ground ]

OTG, an airport food and beverage company, recently elicited Tekserve's services to deploy thousands of iPad kiosks in various airports in order to help travelers quickly find, order and pay for the food they are looking for, according to Freimark. "That is a great example of taking a great personal computer and making it so everyone can use it in a shared environment," Freimark said.

Joyce Mullen, vice president and general manager of OEM Solutions at Dell, said the demand for publicly shared devices is growing and is exciting.

"The most exciting part is, there are new industries every day that were not customers yesterday that will be customers tomorrow," Mullen said. Dell OEM has recently partnered with SoloHealth, an Atlanta-based company, to bring health kiosks to high-traffic public areas like retail stores and corporate campuses. The kiosks are able to do a number of health screenings and connect users to doctors nearby when needed.

"There is tons of data being created by machines and there is a huge opportunity to help customers figure out how to use, store and apply that data," Mullen said. "It's about developing a partnership ecosystem around looking at issues holistically and teaming up with partners in this space to offer full solutions."

"It used to be about taking a specialized device and making it more general, making it useable in a business that it wasn't designed for. Now it's the other way around," Freimark said.

NEXT: Tailored Form Factors

The mobile market is flooded with form options. The form-factor overload has caused what Lenovo's Vice President of North American Commercial Channel and SMB Chris Frey calls "a time of device confusion, especially as it relates to the channel."

With choices ranging from smartphones to tablets to phablets to convertible notebooks that morph into four different shapes, form factors are not a case of one-size-fits-all. Frey said he already sees businesses allowing multiple flavors of mobile devices within the enterprise, largely fueled by personal preferences of the employees.

"We believe it is important to have offerings around all kinds of different form factors. The important part is getting the devices in the hands of the business partner so they can get the devices to the hands of all employees," Frey said.

According to Jennifer Langan, director of mobility product market, Enterprise Business Division at Samsung Electronics America, form-factor specialization, especially in reference to specific verticals, is highly important.

"The options are definitely going to increase. The responsibility is on the device maker to articulate what situation each device can best be used," Langan said.

Langan described one Samsung strategy as a sort of "work backwards" technique in which Samsung looks at specific enterprise needs in specific verticals and creates devices that will address those needs. Using the health-care vertical as an example, Langan noted a doctor or nurse who may need to carry a tablet may also need the ability to dock that tablet to a keyboard. The form of the device changes, but all of the information is still stored on a single device.

"We're finding out that one of the most important factors in health care is for the device to be able to fit in a lab-coat pocket," Langan said. She added the lab-coat pocket fit is very specific for health care, but a worthy requirement to design a device specifically for. Though options in the form arena abound, Langan expects even more to hit the market as specific needs are targeted.

According to Frey and Langan, the client device of the future is tailored. They will be tailored not just to a specific business, but down to the very last end user, even if that means the employee in the next cubicle has been fitted to a different form.

NEXT: Personalized Mobile Experience

The common thread among vendors and VARs seems to be the intention to target an end user's need and create world-class devices and solutions that will meet that need. BYOD, the trend in which employees choose what mobile device they use for company purposes, is a broad example of how the end user's needs and desires are of utmost importance to the manufacturer.

According to Rick Jordan, director of Sales and Strategic Alliances at Tenet Computer Group, a Toronto-based solution provider, BYOD is a driving factor in mobility evolution. Despite all of the concerns around security, Jordan said manufacturers are embracing BYOD and creating opportunities for flexibility among mobile devices in the enterprise.

"BYOD is here to stay. Once manufacturers have all of the checks and balances and policies in place, companies will continue to feel more comfortable qualifying multiple devices to access its network," Jordan said. "The most important thing is to know what is happening to the data." Jordan said he sees security advancing quickly in preparation for the continued evolution of personalized mobility practices.

According to Langan, the device of the future is more than a piece of hardware. The device of the future depends on what solutions are wrapped around that device, what that device can accomplish for users or help users accomplish for themselves.

"You have to start off with a great device, but you have to do a lot more," Langan said. "You have to answer the 'Now What' questions."

As described by these vendors and VARs, mobility is moving full speed ahead. The "one-size-fits-all" mentality no longer applies to a world where the population of mobile device users is on the rise. The mobile device of the future is, in many cases, public, tailored in form and, above all, evolving into a secure solution that will be exactly what the end user wants.


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