Can the Samsung Galaxy S9 DeX Pad transform workforce mobility?
Samsung has used Mobile World Congress 2018 to unveil the latest iteration of its Galaxy series of devices, the S9 and S9+, and with it an update to last year's DeX docking solution. It's a device that aims to turn your phone into a desktop PC.
But where the DeX largely failed to reach take-off velocity, is the new DeX Pad the answer?
Samsung is aiming the DeX platform squarely at enterprise and business users. It's there it thinks it will find the momentum to move towards a future where one computing device - a phone - is enough for all consumers.
Samsung isn't the only one working towards this particular dream. Palm attempted it years ago, long before the idea was really feasible. Microsoft also took a shot with its hibernating Continuum platform. Google hasn't tried anything, and nor has Apple (aside from one tantalising patent application).
While it's easy enough to hook any phone to a screen, and forthcoming third party accessories like DoBox for iOS devices or Sentio (formerly Andronium) for Android could take a step towards it for the truly committed, it remains an emerging niche that Samsung seems set on conquering.
So what will make the second-generation DeX worth considering for IT managers eager to encourage enhanced workforce mobility while finding savings over warehouses of laptops?
First, the company makes the case for the phones themselves. Aside from consumer-friendly improvements like cameras and emojis, Samsung's S9/S9+ combo sports a touted 25% boost in performance with the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 CPU, or Samsung Exynos 9810, depending on where you live. It will also support Gigabit LTE for speedy connectivity, once networks start to roll it out.
A top-spec Galaxy S9 will also come with a whopping 256GB of internal storage, more than the S8's measly 64GB, and be expandable to 400GB.
The DeX Pad dock itself sports two USB 2.0 ports, one USB C, ethernet and HDMI to connect it to screens, peripherals and the network. That's more ports than many laptops. It now lays flat on the desktop, unlike its predecessor, which allows the screen to double up as a touch pad or soft keyboard if a mouse and keyboard can't be found.
It passes through a much improved picture resolution, too, up from 1080p to 3560 x 1440.
Software and Services
"Users and companies love DeX, so we've made it even better. We've created a new Samsung DeX Pad with Knox integration to create a seamless experience for IT managers," Eui Suk Chung, Samsung's head of software and AI, told an audience at Mobile World Congress.
"Companies need to handle data with great care and responsibility. That's why, from our software APIs all the way down to our chipsets, security is integrated throughout our devices."
Chung made special mention of the fact Samsung Knox - its pre-installed enterprise mobile security solution - has "more government security approvals than any other platform". Batches of DeX pads can be set up with standardised appearance, security settings, and corporate apps by IT administrators using Knox Configure.
A failing of the first edition DeX was a paucity of apps optimised to use it. Unoptimised apps still run, but do so in a fixed window in the same way they do on a phone. It's something Samsung is seeking to address this time round.
A great many more optimised apps will be available at launch this time, and it hopes the relative simplicity of optimising existing apps via the DeX SDK will encourage more to come on stream quickly. Samsung has partnered with VMWare to optimise the company's Workspace One enterprise mobility management platform, allowing for applications virtualised in the cloud. Likewise Citrix Secure Mail has been optimised for DeX, and Microsoft Office will be available out of the box.
Given that the first-gen DeX cost around $150, the cost of a DeX Pad is expected to be roughly the same. At that price, assuming the experience matches up to the promise, it's possible Samsung could be about to take another step towards its converged-computing dream.
It sees DeX as a "workforce transformation tool" and it's initial target markets are healthcare, retail, emergency services, hospitality and, naturally, your everyday business traveller.
While Apple's iOS reportedly currently accounts for over 80% of the enterprise market, it provides all the screens separately and at some cost. Samsung's betting DeX can start to change all that.
Tech Corporations Fight for Alternative ESG Filings
In 2021, almost a third of global equity inflow went into ESG funds, according to the Bank of America. In April alone, ESG assets hit US$1.4tn, growing at 3x the rate of non-ESG funds. And although it seems like solar panel and electric car firms should take the cake for sustainable investment, it’s actually the world’s largest tech firms that command the market.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the most commonly held S&P 500 stocks in actively managed sustainable equity funds include Microsoft, Alphabet, and Apple. So it struck many as odd that in a June 11th letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Alphabet requested that ESG information not be disclosed in annual 10k filings.
Who Signed The Letter?
Only some of the most influential tech giants in the world...
To be fair, these companies aren’t against ESG and sustainable business. ‘Collectively, we purchase more than 21 gigawatts of clean energy and many of us are members of the UN Race to Zero and America is All In campaigns’, the joint letter to the SEC stated. ‘Each company has an individual goal to procure 100% renewable energy’.
Then Why Protest?
According to the tech companies, filing ESG information might open them up to legal risks. After all, sustainability reporting relies on estimates and assumptions that involve uncertainty—and governance issues such as fair labour are much harder to track than annual financial data. ‘It is important not to subject companies to undue liability’, the companies wrote.
Instead of reporting ESG data in their annual 10k filings, Alphabet et. al suggest that the SEC should allow for new climate-related reporting outside of the current annual or quarterly schedules. By adjusting the reporting frequency and timing, they argue, companies can provide a better and more accurate measure of how they’re doing with ESG.
Who Opposes Alternative ESG Reporting?
For the most part, asset managers aren’t thrilled. Pimco, Invesco, and other major asset funds want ESG information disclosed—the standard way. As of right now, the SEC still intends to make ESG 10k filings mandatory. ‘[Alphabet] positions itself as a sustainability leader’, said Josh Zinner, CEO of the Interfaith Centre on Corporate Responsibility. Added Molly Betounray, Director of Shareholder Advocacy at Clean Yield Asset Management: ‘While it’s great to see corporate ESG leaders advocating for climate disclosure standards, we disagree with their assertion that these disclosures should fall outside current standard SEC filings’.
What’s the Verdict?
Maybe Alphabet, Amazon, and Intel are honestly trying to frame ESG reporting in a new light. As Patrick Flynn, Vice President for Sustainability at Salesforce said: ‘[ESG disclosure] is a new process for companies to go through, and they’ll need to establish new procedures. Allowing for some sort of safe harbour from liability…[allows] companies to push in willingly and not just do the bare minimum’.
In their letter to the SEC, these companies chose to recommend several concrete actions:
- Use a principles-based framework, akin to the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD)
- Base GHG emissions on global standards, such as the World Resources Institute GHG Protocol
- Leverage existing SEC frameworks to reduce the reporting burden
- Adjust the timing and frequency of ESG reporting
In short: before we mandate ESG reporting, the SEC should at least think twice about how to design it.