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MF: We’re here with you at the Storage Visions Conference, which takes place alongside the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). We’re seeing a number of companies that offer products to both home consumers as well as corporations. Is there ever a crossover between consumer and enterprise concerns?
TC: Of course. It’s a good idea for the enterprise to keep an eye on consumer electronics. We see PDA and MP3 players with various flash memory systems, but there are also many examples with hard disk drives. Consumers first picked up mobile phones with embedded cameras, but businesspeople soon spotted the benefits for research and data gathering. HDTV has been marketed to the consumer, but the benefits in clearer problem-solving videos and training videos are making inroads into the enterprise. And they all take more storage space.
MF: What innovations are you seeing at CES that bode well for enterprises?
TC: As I mentioned earlier, digital video recorders, also known as personal video players, have great potential for education and training. As another example, when I call in for help, I don’t need to see just a canned video that might only approximate my particular situation. I can focus my mobile phone camera to show customer support personnel what I am doing, and get feedback in real time to solve my problem. And the personally tailored response to my problem can be captured and used by my internal help desk to solve future problems without having to dial out for customer support.
Global GPS systems also have features with potential for enterprises to incorporate. Navigation-based systems and map systems using hard disk drives for automobiles are coming to us from Japan. And of course they will fuel storage growth. These interactive systems can aid in finding trouble spots and solving problems. Using a hard disk drive and an active sensor network such as is popular in Japan allows real-time updating and monitoring of traffic situations to help folks take the least time to get to where they are going. With a hard disk drive, data can be updated and significant detailed maps can be stored.
MF: Will enterprises become consumer-focused?
TC: Enterprises will need to pay attention to developments in the consumer market. Smaller, high capacity digital storage devices enable whole new types of consumer devices. Employees will use new storage devices and methods of communicating because they make their jobs easier and enhance their productivity. And when innovations catch on with your employees, you’re not going to be able to keep those innovations out of the office.
Almost all communication technologies involve increasing amounts of data that need to be stored somewhere, so enterprise storage plans will reflect changes in the market. Also, increasing content use by consumers and employees will drive increasing demand for storage systems in the enterprise to create, store, and deliver the required content. Savvy companies will watch the entertainment and digital content consumer industries to scope out these important trends and to get a leg up on their competition.