With businesses and workplaces across the world becoming more and more digital, the need for a flexible working practice is becoming crucial for those companies looking to attract top talent.
Flexible working can only be enabled by suitably flexible hardware, and Microsoft is making a major push to corner this market with its Surface Pro product line. First unveiled back in 2012, the latest iteration, the Surface Pro 3 with LTE, was shown off at the company’s Future Decoded event in London this week, offering a powerful, connected device that seems ideal for business customers.
"This is one of the first times that Surface can be used in the modern workplace...versus the more consumer level,” Ryan Gavin, GM of Surface and commercial devices at Microsoft, told ITProPortal at the event.
“That's an important shift...and a reflection and an understanding of the importance that the device plays in these transformations that are happening, whether at a cultural level, at the talent you're able to bring into your organisation, the workflow and how people are working, all the way through to the foundationals of, 'how does a device make someone feel?' and the role it plays, whether it's an 88-inch Surface Hub, or a Surface Pro - the device is central to this transformation".
Surface is now becoming a key cornerstone of what the company calls its “Microsoft 365” initiative, Gavin adds, bringing a solid hardware offering that can get the most out of software and services such as Office 365.
"Our strategy on Surface has really turned into this area of saying - how can the device lead the modern workplace transformation, and be the reason why you love and use Windows, Office and all our software solutions,” he says.
"We're in the hardware business because we're in the software business...the best parts of (our services) come together through the hardware, and unless you're co-product making together, you don't get the full expression of what we're calling Microsoft 365."
Microsoft has been bold in only initially making the new Surface Pro 3 with LTE only available to business customers, in a move that could be seen as focusing too strongly on one customer base. However Gavin disagrees, noting that the new device is something that offers unique advantages to workers.
"It's not about a traditional device going into a traditional use case, it's about these devices helping to be transformative in some way...we would never build just another device, as the world doesn't need just another device - but the world does needs devices that transform the way we work."
"People's devices now say something about them,” he adds. “The device people pull out of their bags at Starbucks says something about not just them, but also who they work for - employees value companies that see them as a key asset, and invest in them as such."
Ultimately, Microsoft is positioning Surface as the hardware platform that can maximise the way workers can express themselves creatively, benefiting not just their employers but also themselves on a personal level.
"The DNA of Surface is so steeped in the idea that 'the world doesn't need just another new device'- because it doesn't - the world needs new ways of working, and we have to transform how people work," he says.
"People are still being forced to work in the ways that machines and technology have dictated they work, versus the more natural ways for people to connect, whether that's with Ink, pen, voice, touch - whatever it is."