Microsoft banks on Hong Kong’s digital potential with launch of Surface Hub

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 12 September, 2017, 11:09pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 12 September, 2017, 11:09pm

Microsoft launched its Surface Hub in Hong Kong on Tuesday as it targets the digital transformation potential of companies in the city.

Described by the firm as a “multi-touch collaboration device”, the Surface Hub is like an interactive whiteboard users can draw on and save written notes on during a meeting. However, it also acts as an integrated device that can be used as an extension of a smartphones or laptop during team meetings or presentations.

For example, users can connect their smartphones or tablets directly to the Surface Hub, which will act as a projector, of sorts, to the rest of the team. Other features include the teleconferencing sofware Skype for Business, which lets users from anywhere in the world connect to a meeting through the Surface Hub. Users can annotate directly on the screen, and also present or work on 3D drawings.

Hong Kong is the first city in the Greater China region with access to the Surface Hub device, according to Microsoft.

Alain Crozier, chairman and chief executive of Microsoft’s Greater China region, said Surface Hub could be especially useful in a region that is so mobile-oriented, as the technology allows employees to easily collaborate and work across devices.

“There are a lot of activities that are happening on [mobile in this region], what you do needs to be integrated with the smartphone,” said Crozier.

The Surface Hub is also a device that ensures security for companies; at the end of each session it completely wipes out any data written or worked on previously.

Hong Kong is seen as having a great deal of potential for digital transformation. Two thirds of the city’s business leaders believe digitalisation is necessary to drive growth, according to a study commissioned by Microsoft Asia. However, only 22 per cent of business leaders have a strategy in place.

A recent Google whitepaper on digitalisation trends in Hong Kong yielded similar results, with only 20 per cent of companies surveyed actively participating in digital initiatives.

“If you do not have a digital strategy, it’s hard to compete [with competitors in the market] to serve customers,” said Crozier.

Early adopters of the Surface Hub in Hong Kong include utility company CLP, and other international consultancy firms and conglomerates, according to Microsoft.

The Surface Hub comes in two sizes, with the smaller, 55-inch device costing about US$9,000 and the larger 84-inch version priced at about US$22,000.