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By Sean Taylor

In a rapidly evolving technology landscape, one constant has been a focus on portability, with smaller, more lightweight devices pushing larger, heavier competitors out of the marketplace. Other prominent trends include the movement toward cordless operations and the development of devices and solutions that allow users to transition from home to office to anywhere else seamlessly.

That said, it’s important to keep in mind that devices often operate within connected ecosystems, so while going cord-free is a genuine trend in some sectors, the need for cords isn’t going away anytime soon. The requirement to plug into ecosystems while operating devices cord-free has given rise to connectivity solutions that charge, dock and connect user devices and peripherals without compromising mobility.

Here’s a look at three trends in the connectivity solutions space that are expected to shape technology development and deployment in 2017 and beyond:

  1. Workforce mobility: Employees are increasingly on the go these days, making workplace flexibility solutions like universal docking stations more important than ever. A docking station that can convert any brand of laptop or mobile device into a fully functional workstation is an important asset for staff who are running from meeting to meeting and need to maximize productivity when they have time at their desks. There is also increasing demand for products that can allow employees to maintain optimal productivity levels while on the road, and solutions like advanced docking stations and video display adapters can meet those needs.
  2. Uncompromised performance: Another trend is increasing demand for technologies that enable high-performance connectivity. Products like the Thunderbolt 3 cable meet this demand by docking laptops to multiple displays and peripherals with a single cable and delivering the blazing-fast speed that improves workflow and allows knowledge workers and creative professionals to work with high-resolution, high-bandwidth and graphically intensive images, video and CAD drawings. This type of single-cord solution is also beneficial for medical professionals who require fast access to large datasets and high-resolution media. Future-proof connectors like the USB-C, a standard connector that can carry multiple technology protocols, will be adopted by more manufacturers so users can connect universally.
  3. Portability and performance paradox: Portability is table stakes in the current environment, as devices have become smaller, thinner and lighter over the past few decades. This trend will continue and even accelerate as portability becomes a factor in device utility. The trend has also given rise to the phenomenon of users running increasingly sophisticated business processes with mobile devices, editing documents and presenting directly from smartphones. That means connectivity solutions that enable employees to easily connect and convert devices into fully functional workstations while on the road will be in higher demand. Products like USB-C multifunctional adapters and Thunderbolt 3 cables can solve the portability-performance paradox.

Another factor that will shape technology trends in the future is the prospect of WiGig wireless connectivity, which operates in the 60GHz frequency range and can achieve data transmission speeds of up to 7Gbps. Analysts predict that WiGig could eventually reach speeds of up to 25Gbps. That kind of speed is truly groundbreaking, and when integrated into products like docking stations, it could change the way offices function in the future.

It’s important to keep in mind that while the technology landscape is changing rapidly, some trends persist, such as the drive toward smaller devices and greater mobility. The past decade has witnessed an astonishing expansion of device capabilities, and it’s tempting to think that the trend toward wireless operations will result in a cord-free future. But the growing demand for ecosystem connectivity suggests the opposite: Cords that charge, dock and connect user devices are very much a part of the future.

Sean Taylor is the director of product management of StarTech.