This article is part of our Essential Guide: Explore the features of unified endpoint management

Three trends that defined 2017: UEM, IoT, and AR

There were plenty of other big stories, but these were the most idiomatic to us.

As we approach the end of 2017, we (both Gabe and Jack) want to take a step back and look at the defining trends of the year. It's easy to get caught up in headlines like the changes and layoffs at Citrix or all the mergers and acquisitions, but our goal today isn't to dwell on what happened as much as it is to identify which trends will be synonymous with 2017 in a few years. We've written about these all year, so they may not come as a surprise if you've been following along, but if you haven’t, welcome to the party!

Unified endpoint management

You'd be hard-pressed to find a topic that got us riled up in 2017 as much as unified endpoint management. Typically, we each stay in our own lanes, with Jack covering mobility and identity and Gabe covering desktop virtualization and app management. UEM, though, is something we both really believe in—just listen to us turn into fanboys during our VMworld 2017 podcast—and we think it's here to stay.

If you look at the different topics that we cover, you begin to realize that we both care about the same thing: getting users connected to the apps and data in a secure and manageable way. Currently, that involves different management systems depending on which device/OS combination you're using. The more devices, OSes, apps, and data sources out there, the more management platforms we need, and the harder IT admins' lives become.

The UEM message of 2017 indicates that there is an end in sight, and that companies like VMware, Microsoft, MobileIron, PolicyPak, and others are betting that the future of device management will be all-inclusive. With UEM, you'll be able to manage, patch, update, deploy, and secure all your devices from one platform. All the new Modern Management features in Windows 10 have a huge role to play, and even macOS is moving away from traditional imaging.

Naturally, this is a fundamental change from the way we work today, so it will be a while before we see widespread adoption. But the seeds have been sown, and it will be very interesting to watch them grow.

IoT

The Internet of Things is nothing new, but for years it languished on the sidelines of end user computing. Most desktop virtualization folks became aware of IoT when Citrix bought OctoBlu (which they recently shut down), but EMM folks might have been more familiar with it due to the need to manage all the “things” in their environment. To date, there hasn't been a horizontal use case for IoT, but 2017 will go down as the year we finally understood how it relates to EUC.

We learned about IT's cousin, OT (Operation Technology), which is responsible for the machines that are the backbone of manufacturing businesses. IoT is turning what were once isolated machines into a networked ecosystem of perhaps millions of devices that need to be connected, managed, updated, and secured. The line between OT and IT was once obvious, but it’s blurring as time goes by. 2017 is the first time we identified this trend, and we can safely say the next few years will be spent determining the proper balance and still chasing that elusive horizontal use case.

We also learned about EMM-managed IoT versus 3-tier IoT. This is another way to parse what matters to EUC folks versus what will probably stay under OT for a while. It’s also how some vendors are demarcating their IoT efforts.

Augmented reality

Like IoT, AR is an interesting technology that hasn't exactly found a universally-agreeable place in the enterprise. We've all seen the eye candy demonstrations, and it's not uncommon to hear someone rave about their experience at a HoloLens demo. While it's cool to interact with a digital jet engine right before your eyes, that doesn't really help you if your company just sells greeting cards.

Still, 2017 saw the introduction of use cases and capabilities that began to change the way we look at AR. For example, Apple introduced ARKit, which means everyone with a new iOS device can see what a virtual chair from Amazon looks like in their living room, or measure their friend's TV to see if it really is 70 inches instead of 65. (Seriously, who can tell at that size?) These scenarios may seem frivolous now, but give app developers time to explore AR, and we might just find that "gotta-have-it" app that we all need.

Jack wrote about one potential example when he learned of a large beverage company that uses AR to help salespeople work with retailers to visualize the placement of coolers and vending machines in their stores. This allows the retailers to work out placement issues before buying products, which benefits both the beverage company and their customers. We'll surely discover more uses cases in the next few years, and when we do, we can look back at 2017 as the year our eyes were opened.

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