With a billion connected devices shipped in 2012 and that number expected to double by 2016*, there’s clearly a huge demand for mobile IT, whether it’s tablets, smartphones or other devices . New dimensions in mobility will emerge as mobile handsets link to a wide and growing range of consumer electronics, both for professional and personal purposes.
Mobility means access to data from all places for fully flexible work locations, allowing timely data entry and capture of metadata- data about date, when and where data was input, accessed, sent or stored. According to the recent “The Flex Factor” report, an optimised approach to flexible working by UK organisations could potentially generate productivity gains running to more than £8 bn.
Whilst this may well be the best opportunity for genuine business innovation this decade, it will be a greater challenge than ever for CIOs. Many will struggle to support and integrate hundreds of new smartphones and tablets, while meeting demands for ever more sophisticated business apps. The latest statistics say two thirds of organisations are investing in mobile app development and by some estimates, projects targeting smartphones and tables will outnumber native PC projects by a ratio of four to one on 2015.
Current figures suggest that 85% of SMBs already use smartphones, 25% use tablets and 43% have remote workers**. Predictions for the next few years suggest that these trends will only accelerate: 78% of enterprises (of all sizes) plan to deploy tablets by the end of this year, 760 million tablets will have been sold by 2015 and a staggering 1.84 billion smart connected devices will have been delivered by 2016.
Whilst conventional PC demand and sales have now been in decline for five consecutive quarters, the uptake of tablet and other mobile smart devices also reflects changing patterns in IT usage. More established applications such as word processing, email, access to company intranets or other portals, CRM, HR, spread sheets and business-specific applications remain the domain of desktop, but laptops and tablets dominate in newer areas such as data dashboards and business intelligence apps, file sync and sharing, web meetings, presentations and blogging.
In addition to the benefits that companies enjoy due to the current trends in business mobility, consumers can also experience several advantages. Lower operational costs often translate into more competitive pricing for goods and services, which means less cost to consumers. At the same time, the remote structure often means it is possible to connect with a company representative that is not physically nearby, rather than waiting days or weeks for someone to arrive in the area.
This reflects the industry prediction for this year: CIOs want information anywhere and anyhow, and mobile technologies are a key part on that.
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* Business Solutions Magazine, Autumn 2013
** Sage SMB Survey on Mobile Devices: Manufacturing and Distribution Industries, March 2013