What is missing from CES?

Ah, a new year. This year I'm not going to CES, but eWeek has enough editors and reporters at the Las Vegas event to give the show a good going over. Check out our web site for ongoing coverage. So, what am I missing? In particular, what are you missing? If you are looking for bigger televisions, louder audio and more ways to transport and play important content such as really amateur videos from YouTube, privacy protected music that makes Microsoft's Zune and Apple's Ipod everlastingly incompatible and massive speakers that will make it able to hear your car coming from the next state, then you should have made that trek to Las Vegas.

But if you were looking for products and applications that would help your business grow in this new year, than CES was not the place for you. In an era of very narrowly focused trade shows, web sites racing to become the next evolution of network television and a blogosphere that seems to dwell more and more on bloggers talking about other bloggers talking about bloggers, I'd like to offer up this simple wish list for business products needed in 2007.

RSS. No, not the syndicated news readers. I'm talking about really simple security. Despite all the investment in computer security, it is still very difficult for the business manager to come into work in the morning and know whether the company's computers have been hacked, spammed, zombied or otherwise compromised. While you can easily see if someone left a door ajar or forgot to turn off the lights, computer security is still a world of reports, incompatible security products and an uneasy feeling that while you slept, the hackers figured out a new way to bust down your firewall. I don't see this situation improving much via Microsoft's Vista by the way. I do see hope in the use of thin client computing to keep the network dumb where it needs to be dumb and smart where it can be best protected.

Web 2.0. And again I'm not talking about that web 2.0 world where everyone shares everyone's information and then wonders why they have no privacy. I'm talking about simple hosted applications where a company can easily add customer resource management, financial applications or human resource capabilities in a quick, secure manner while assuring that private data remains available only to those who should have access to the information. I'd give a lot of credit for moving this concept forward to Mark Benioff at Salesforce.com, but his ego is already sufficiently large. I think Zach Nelson over at NetSuite Inc. (and no, I don't have any financial interest in his upcoming IPO), has an approach that best integrates all of business operations. This should have been fertile ground for Microsoft, but they have been too busy with games, music and getting Vista out the door. Simply green. There's a lot of venture capital going into recyclables, alternate fuels and alternate vehicles. Just as it is time for really simple security, I think it is time for really simple energy management. That same manager that wants to check the status of security in the building, should also be able to check the status of energy usage and management at their work.

Simple networks. Maybe Cisco can deliver on this promise. Businesses need networks that are simple to construct, expand, add resources, add voice over IP, add security, add storage and administer. Somewhere in the rush to make speed the overriding attribute of an advanced network, the idea of adding simplicity was lost. Of the products and services being shown at CES this year, the concepts surrounding simple home networks may be the most transferable to business. A lot of effort and money around consumer electronics has gone into developing home video and audio networks that are easy to expand, move about and embrace many media formats. Maybe this will be the year that the promise of an easily yet powerful home network will finally come to fruition. Once that happens, a simple network for business cannot be far behind. And why in this age of EV-DO and other wireless networks, shouldn't the business traveler be able to take along their network same as they take a portable computer on the road?

See my blog for an expanded list.