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The Google Chromebook, Suddenly, Is An Enterprise Contender

Eric Lai

Everyone was gearing up for a Tablet Battle Royale between the iPad and the Windows 8 armada. Now comes spoiling for the fight over the enterprise is the small fleet of Google Chromebooks, led by the $249 Samsung ARM Chromebook.

HANDS-ON: The elusive Windows Phone 8 Samsung ATIV S

Everyone was gearing up for a Tablet Battle Royale between the iPad and the Windows 8 armada. Now comes spoiling for the fight over the enterprise is the small fleet of Google Chromebooks, led by the $249 Samsung ARM Chromebook.

Google’s Chromebook hadn’t been on my radar, I confess. The first models from Samsung and Acer were so meh. And Google seemed content to quietly market them exclusively to K-12 schools.

But the ARM-based Samsung Chromebook has my full attention. Hello, my $249 gorgeous…

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That caused me to belatedly examine all of the progress the Chromebook has made in the past year. Not only did I come away impressed, but Google’s mobile platform moves suddenly made sense to me. Its hardware partners may disagree, but Google doesn’t really care if Android makes it in the enterprise. It’s a consumer platform. The cloud-centric Chrome is its enterprise play.

Let’s recap:

The first Chromebook was released at $349 more than a year ago. The price was good, but not great. But Samsung’s sleek new $249 Chromebook aggressively undercuts the $499 iPad on price the way many observers thought Microsoft needed to do with the Surface RT.

Instead, it’s the new Chromebook that is:

  • half the price of the iPad and the Surface RT;
  • half to one-third the price of Windows 8 convertible tablets (see my gallery of 17 of them here). Without keyboards, most of these Atom-based ‘tabtops’ or ‘laptablets’ run between $500 and $900;

At these prices, what CIO or IT manager wouldn’t give the Chromebook a serious look?

 

crazy-eddie

 

You’d have to be crazy not to

The new Chromebook is also a dramatic improvement in looks – important in the age of the Consumerization of IT. Whereas the first Chromebooks were drab, stripped-down laptops, the latest Samsung model sports MacBook Air-like looks and dimensions (0.8 inches thin, 2.4 pounds). It bears little resemblance to its forebears or their common ancestor, the undersized-yet-chunky netbook. As Computerworld put it, “Make no mistake about it: This is an attractive computer.”

The new Chromebook is also more powerful under the hood, being the first mobile device to sport Samsung’s Exynos 5 system-on-chip. The Exynos 5 uses a dual-core, 1.7 GHz ARM Cortex-A15 CPU that can support up to 2560×1600 resolution, 1080p video at 60 frames per second, and USB 3.0.

The Cortex-A15 has been benchmarked running twice as fast as the quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3, which, coincidentally, is used in the Surface and the Google Nexus tablet. The Cortex-A15 is so fast that the iPhone 5, probably the fastest mobile device today, was initially thought to be running it.

Alas, there’s theory and there’s IRL (In Real Life). The new Chromebook seems to be shackled by its 2 GB of RAM, with reviewers saying that the browser becomes sluggish after you open a dozen browser tabs or so. That’s annoying, but with an 11.6-inch, 1366-x768 screen, the Chromebook wasn’t going to please Browser Hoarders, anyway.

(For faster performance, you can opt for the $449 Samsung Chromebook Series 5 550, which has a dual-core Intel Celeron chip and 4 GB of RAM.)

Google has also improved the Chromebook’s offline capabilities so that you can read and write e-mail and Google Docs while disconnected from the cloud. Besides the 16 GB of local storage on the SSD, you also now get 100 GB of Google storage, too.

Mobile Device Management with the Chromebook

You can argue that enterprises aren’t as easily impressed by price tags as consumers. What they care about is Total Cost Of Ownership (TCO), which is related mostly to the cost and time of managing devices.

Here, Google also claims its Chromebook shines, with a TCO that is just a fraction of a PC (try their calculator). Organizations can ship a Chromebook straight to an end user and auto-enroll and provision their network settings, apps and other policies the first time they log into the Web. This “zero-touch deployment” should be music to the ears of IT admins.

IT managers can later update the OS, track assets, push updates and block apps, apply group policies etc. all via Google’s Web-based management console. Security is a no-brainer, says Google, since it installs security patches to the Chrome browser quickly and behind the scenes.

If you prefer to outsource management and support, Google will do it and charge you a flat fee of $150 per Chromebook for the lifetime of the device. For schools, it’s just $30 per Chromebook.

Stealth Uptake

With all of the publicity around the iPad’s success in education, it’s little known that the Chromebook has also attracted more than 500 school districts in the U.S. and Europe. They include:

  • Richland School District 2 (SC) – 19,000 Chromebooks
  • Council Bluffs Community School District (IA) – 4,300 Chromebooks
  • Leyden Community High School District (IL) – 3,500 Chromebooks

There is also Hanover School District (PA), University of Connecticut and Kingston University in London, and the schools shown on this map. 

I must’ve really been asleep at the switch, as the Chromebook also has won some mainstream enterprise users. They include Mollen Clinics (4,500 Chromebooks), California State Library (1,000 Chromebooks), the Dillard’s Inc. retail chain, test prep provider, Kaplan, Logitech, the city of Orlando, the U.S. Army. See this map for testimonials and MSPMentor for excellent coverage.

What if you’re a company that doesn’t want your investment in Windows applications to go to waste? Well, there are third-party tools like Citrix Receiver and Ericom AccessNow that let you remotely access Windows applications running on desktop PCs or servers. Trucking firm, Quality Distribution Inc. (QDI), and the aforementioned Richland and Hanover school districts, Kingston University and the University of Connecticut all use Ericom’s Accessnow. If don’t want the hassle of managing that data center, there are also cloud services like nGenx that can host those Windows desktops or applications.

Chromebooks can also be great for organizations with slim capital budgets. You can rent Chromebooks from CIT Group for $30 a month with no long-term commitment.

Who Should Get The Chromebook?

Chromebooks won’t be right for every organization. For enterprises that are standardized on Windows and an Active Directory-based management infrastructure, Google’s MDM solution will feel like an extra fee to pay and an extra dashboard to manage. That’s what Microsoft and Windows 8 proponents are betting upon.

Also, I would argue that Google’s TCO figures are overly-optimistic, as they assume companies will standardize on the Chromebook for mobile. That’s unrealistic, if you want to be at all responsive to the needs of your employees, partners and customers. In many companies, Chrome would be a 3rd or even 4th mobile platform. Those enterprises will need to invest in cross-platform MDM AND Mobile Enterprise App Platforms.

With that in mind, I think Google would be smart to start working on integrating its Chromebook management console with mainstream MDM or PC management software. Or, at the very least, opening up the APIs so that other software can do the heavy lifting.

Also, even with its slightness and 3G option, the Chromebook is fundamentally more of a laptop replacement option for white-collar employees and other workers who rarely stray away from their corporate campus and its Wi-Fi network.

The Chromebook is NOT a true mobile device for field service and any jobs involving extended time away from a desk. Here, I include repairmen, store employees and doctors, and many many more. For them, touch-enabled tablets or convertibles make more ergonomic sense, IMHO.

But I could be wrong. Do you think enterprises should adopt Chromebooks? Why or why not?

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Eric Lai

About Eric Lai

Eric Lai previously worked in Enterprise Mobile Solutions Marketing at Sybase, an SAP company. His specialties include blogging, journalism, social media, marketing communications, content strategy and writing and editing.

Why 3D Printed Food Just Transformed Your Supply Chain

Hans Thalbauer

Numerous sectors are experimenting with 3D printing, which has the potential to disrupt many markets. One that’s already making progress is the food industry.

The U.S. Army hopes to use 3D printers to customize food for each soldier. NASA is exploring 3D printing of food in space. The technology could eventually even end hunger around the world.

What does that have to do with your supply chain? Quite a bit — because 3D printing does more than just revolutionize the production process. It also requires a complete realignment of the supply chain.

And the way 3D printing transforms the supply chain holds lessons for how organizations must reinvent themselves in the new era of the extended supply chain.

Supply chain spaghetti junction

The extended supply chain replaces the old linear chain with not just a network, but a network of networks. The need for this network of networks is being driven by four key factors: individualized products, the sharing economy, resource scarcity, and customer-centricity.

To understand these forces, imagine you operate a large restaurant chain, and you’re struggling to differentiate yourself against tough competition. You’ve decided you can stand out by delivering customized entrees. In fact, you’re going to leverage 3D printing to offer personalized pasta.

With 3D printing technology, you can make one-off pasta dishes on the fly. You can give customers a choice of ingredients (gluten-free!), flavors (salted caramel!), and shapes (Leaning Towers of Pisa!). You can offer the personalized pasta in your restaurants, in supermarkets, and on your ecommerce website.

You may think this initiative simply requires you to transform production. But that’s just the beginning. You also need to re-architect research and development, demand signals, asset management, logistics, partner management, and more.

First, you need to develop the matrix of ingredients, flavors, and shapes you’ll offer. As part of that effort, you’ll have to consider health and safety regulations.

Then, you need to shift some of your manufacturing directly into your kitchens. That will also affect packaging requirements. Logistics will change as well, because instead of full truckloads, you’ll be delivering more frequently, with more variety, and in smaller quantities.

Next, you need to perfect demand signals to anticipate which pasta variations in which quantities will come through which channels. You need to manage supply signals source more kinds of raw materials in closer to real time.

Last, the source of your signals will change. Some will continue to come from point of sale. But others, such as supplies replenishment and asset maintenance, can come direct from your 3D printers.

Four key ingredients of the extended supply chain

As with our pasta scenario, the drivers of the extended supply chain require transformation across business models and business processes. First, growing demand for individualized products calls for the same shifts in R&D, asset management, logistics, and more that 3D printed pasta requires.

Second, as with the personalized entrees, the sharing economy integrates a network of partners, from suppliers to equipment makers to outsourced manufacturing, all electronically and transparently interconnected, in real time and all the time.

Third, resource scarcity involves pressures not just on raw materials but also on full-time and contingent labor, with the necessary skills and flexibility to support new business models and processes.

And finally, for personalized pasta sellers and for your own business, it all comes down to customer-centricity. To compete in today’s business environment and to meet current and future customer expectations, all your operations must increasingly revolve around rapidly comprehending and responding to customer demand.

Want to learn more? Check out my recent video on digitalizing the extended supply chain.

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Hans Thalbauer

About Hans Thalbauer

Hans Thalbauer is the Senior Vice President, Extended Supply Chain, at SAP. He is responsible for the strategic direction and the Go-To-Market of solutions for Supply Chain, Logistics, Engineering/R&D, Manufacturing, Asset Management and Sustainability at SAP.

How to Design a Flexible, Connected Workspace 

John Hack, Sam Yen, and Elana Varon

SAP_Digital_Workplace_BRIEF_image2400x1600_2The process of designing a new product starts with a question: what problem is the product supposed to solve? To get the right answer, designers prototype more than one solution and refine their ideas based on feedback.

Similarly, the spaces where people work and the tools they use are shaped by the tasks they have to accomplish to execute the business strategy. But when the business strategy and employees’ jobs change, the traditional workspace, with fixed walls and furniture, isn’t so easy to adapt. Companies today, under pressure to innovate quickly and create digital business models, need to develop a more flexible work environment, one in which office employees have the ability to choose how they work.

SAP_Digital_Emotion_BRIEF_image175pxWithin an office building, flexibility may constitute a variety of public and private spaces, geared for collaboration or concentration, explains Amanda Schneider, a consultant and workplace trends blogger. Or, she adds, companies may opt for customizable spaces, with moveable furniture, walls, and lighting that can be adjusted to suit the person using an unassigned desk for the day.

Flexibility may also encompass the amount of physical space the company maintains. Business leaders want to be able to set up operations quickly in new markets or in places where they can attract top talent, without investing heavily in real estate, says Sande Golgart, senior vice president of corporate accounts with Regus.

Thinking about the workspace like a designer elevates decisions about the office environment to a strategic level, Golgart says. “Real estate is beginning to be an integral part of the strategy, whether that strategy is for collaborating and innovating, driving efficiencies, attracting talent, maintaining higher levels of productivity, or just giving people more amenities to create a better, cohesive workplace,” he says. “You will see companies start to distance themselves from their competition because they figured out the role that real estate needs to play within the business strategy.”

The SAP Center for Business Insight program supports the discovery and development of  new research-­based thinking to address the challenges of business and technology executives.

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Sam Yen

About Sam Yen

Sam Yen is the Chief Design Officer for SAP and the Managing Director of SAP Labs Silicon Valley. He is focused on driving a renewed commitment to design and user experience at SAP. Under his leadership, SAP further strengthens its mission of listening to customers´ needs leading to tangible results, including SAP Fiori, SAP Screen Personas and SAP´s UX design services.

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Why New Technology Has An Adoption Problem

Danielle Beurteaux

When 3D printing became a practical reality, in the sense that the actual printers became more efficient, less expensive, and more accessible to the average consumer, there was an assumption that the consumer 3D printing market was going to take off. We’d all have printers at home printing…. what? Our clothes? Toys? Spare organs?

That has yet to happen. 3D printing company MakerBot just went through its second employee layoff this year, driven by a market that’s developing much slower than predicted.

That same thinking is in play with a somewhat more prosaic technology – digital wallets. Apple Pay was released this year, as was Samsung Pay. There’s also Google’s Android Pay. During an earnings call, Apple CEO Tim Cook said: “We are more confident than ever that 2015 will be the year of Apple Pay.” But that expectation has yet to be realized, at least vis-à-vis consumers.

Consumers aren’t using any of the digital wallets en masse. According to Bloomberg, payments made via mobile wallets – all of them – make up a mere 1% of retail purchases in the U.S. The reason is that consumers just don’t see a compelling reason to use them. There’s no real reward for them to change from SOP.

Both these instances highlight a problem with assumptions about mass adoption for new technology – just because it’s cool, interesting, and accessible doesn’t mean a market-worthy mass of people will use it.

Who is more likely to use mobile wallets? Emerging economies without a stable financial and banking systems. In those environments, digital payments present a more secure and quicker method for purchasing. These are the same areas where mobile adoption leapfrogged older technologies because there was a lack of telecommunications infrastructure, i.e. many never had a landline phone to begin with, and they went directly to mobile. The value-add already exists. (But there are also security issues, to which consumers are becoming more sensitive. A hack of Samsung’s U.S. subsidiary LoopPay network was uncovered five months post-hack. Although one was expert quoted as saying the hackers may not have been interested in selling consumer financial info but instead in tracking individuals.)

Here’s some interesting data and a good point made: mobile payments are most popular in situations where the buyer already has his or her phone in hand and the transaction is made even quicker than swiping plastic. For example, purchases made for London Transit rides are responsible for a good portion of the U.K.’s mobile payments.

Mass technology adoption is no longer driven simply by the release of a new product. There are too many products released constantly now, the market is too diverse, and the products often lack a true raison d’être.

Learn more about how creative and innovative companies are finding their customers. Read Compelling Shopping Moments: 4 Creative Ways Stores Connect With Their Customers.

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Mobile Marketing Continues To Explode

Daniel Newman

If your brand isn’t among those planning a significant spend on mobile marketing in 2016, you need to stop treating it like a fad and step up to meet your competition. Usage statistics show that today people live and work while on the move, and the astronomical rise of mobile ad spending proves it.

According to eMarketer, ad spending experienced triple-digit growth in 2013 and 2014. While it’s slowed in 2015, don’t let that fool you: Mobile ad spending was $19.2 billion in 2013, and eMarketer’s forecast for next year is $101.37 billion—51 percent of the digital market.

  1. Marketers follow consumer behavior, and consumers rely on their mobile devices. The latest findings from show that two-third of Americans are now smartphone owners. Around the world, there are two billion smartphone users and, particularly in developing regions, eMarketer notes “many consumers are accessing the internet mobile-first and mobile-only.”
  2. The number of mobile users has already surpassed the number of desktop users, as has the number of hours people spend on mobile Internet use, and business practices are changing as a result. Even Google has taken notice; earlier this year the search giant rolled out what many referred to as “Mobilegeddon”—an algorithm update that prioritizes mobile-optimized sites.

The implications are crystal clear: To ignore mobile is to ignore your customers. If your customers can’t connect with you via mobile—whether through an ad, social, or an optimized web experience—they’ll move to a competitor they can connect with.

Consumers prefer mobile — and so should you

Some people think mobile marketing has made things harder for marketers. In some ways, it has: It’s easy to make missteps in a constantly changing landscape.

At the same time, however, modern brands can now reach customers at any time of the day, wherever they are, as more than 90 percent of users now have a mobile device within arm’s reach 24/7. This has changed marketing, allowing brands to build better and more personalized connections with their fans.

  • With that extra nudge from Google, beating your competition and showing up in search by having a website optimized for devices of any size is essential.
  • Search engine optimization (SEO) helps people find you online; SEO integration for mobile is even more personalized, hyper local, and targeted to an individual searcher.
  • In-app advertisements put your brand in front of an engaged audience.
  • Push messages keep customers “in the know” about offers, discounts, opportunities for loyalty points, and so much more.

And don’t forget about the power of apps, whose usage takes up 85 percent of the total time consumers spend on their smartphones. Brands like Nike and Starbucks are excellent examples of how to leverage the power of being carried around in someone’s pocket.

Personal computers have never been able to offer such a targeted level of reach. We’ve come to a point where marketing without mobile isn’t really marketing at all.

Mobile marketing tools are on the upswing too

As more mobile-empowered consumers themselves from their desks to the street, the rapid rise of mobile shows no signs of slowing down. This is driving more investment into mobile marketing solutions and programs.

According to VentureBeat’s Mobile Success Landscape, mobile engagement—which includes mobile marketing automation—is second only to app analytics in terms of investment. Mobile marketing has become a universe unto itself, one that businesses are eager to measure more effectively.

Every day, mobile marketing is becoming ever more critical for businesses. Brands that fail to incorporate mobile into their ad, content, and social campaigns will be left wondering where their customers have gone.

 

For more content like this, follow Samsung Business on InsightsTwitterLinkedIn , YouTube and SlideShare

The post Mobile Marketing Continues to Explode appeared first on Millennial CEO.

photo credit: Samsung Galaxy S3 via photopin (license)
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Daniel Newman

About Daniel Newman

Daniel Newman serves as the Co-Founder and CEO of EC3, a quickly growing hosted IT and Communication service provider. Prior to this role Daniel has held several prominent leadership roles including serving as CEO of United Visual. Parent company to United Visual Systems, United Visual Productions, and United GlobalComm; a family of companies focused on Visual Communications and Audio Visual Technologies. Daniel is also widely published and active in the Social Media Community. He is the Author of Amazon Best Selling Business Book "The Millennial CEO." Daniel also Co-Founded the Global online Community 12 Most and was recognized by the Huffington Post as one of the 100 Business and Leadership Accounts to Follow on Twitter. Newman is an Adjunct Professor of Management at North Central College. He attained his undergraduate degree in Marketing at Northern Illinois University and an Executive MBA from North Central College in Naperville, IL. Newman currently resides in Aurora, Illinois with his wife (Lisa) and his two daughters (Hailey 9, Avery 5). A Chicago native all of his life, Newman is an avid golfer, a fitness fan, and a classically trained pianist