Looking into the mobile crystal ball: what does the future of mobility look like?

The explosion of mobile devices and applications has caused real disruption in both end-user expectations and management – and this is only set to intensify in future. As a result, we’re seeing changes in how businesses function, what employees and customers want from organisations and their operating models, and where IT sits within this. So, how can companies retake the initiative within this time of change and prepare for whatever new developments are thrown into the market?

Making the big four work together

As we observed earlier, Apple, Google, Samsung and Microsoft have each focused on more tightly integrated solutions between their own product families. As consumers continue to pick the platforms of their choice, businesses must look to secure mission critical apps and data across these diverse platforms that users have grown to know and love.

For example, most enterprise users have a Windows laptop, but they are more likely to use an iOS or Android phone.

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Meanwhile, as Samsung develops ever more mobile devices, TVs and other household appliances, the role it could have in driving the Internet of Things is vast. If consumers can control the temperature of their fridge from their smartphone or record programmes on TV through tablet devices on the move, similar, connected functionality can be brought into the workplace.

For instance, machine to machine communication within a production line could significantly boost productivity and efficiency within the manufacturing and automation sectors, whilst measuring footfall or interactions with a certain product within a retail store can provide valuable information which businesses can act upon.

Consumerisation of the enterprise app

Experts expect new enterprise apps to combine big data analytics with mission critical application data such as CRM and ERP to give entirely new insights to devices. What’s more, connected machines will be able to report new real-time data into business processes to offer a more holistic business view.

While organisations like VMware manage the apps in the data center and cloud, enterprises will increasingly manage security themselves.

Allowing mission critical services to run in the cloud

Currently, mission critical apps in the data center include email, file, customer and business data services that support the users in getting business done. While IT is under increasing pressure to deliver these services to users at a better price point, enterprises can maintain their business processes and security in the cloud – there will be increased opportunities to transition to the cloud for even the most important applications for end-users.

Speaking to your users to measure mobility

Gathering both customer and employee feedback, and potentially evidence of an increase in sales figures in line with mobility initiatives, will really help businesses gather insights on what developments work and those that don’t from those that matter – the users.

Introducing regular feedback sessions and surveys will be key, while communicating the benefits of providing these insights to employees. After all, if they take the time to do this, they’ll want to know that their opinions matter and are acted upon.

In the future, we may well see the death of the physical office as we know it. Whether this becomes reality or not, what will be required is access to the right applications on the right devices. This is really where mobile cloud comes into play.

Above all, the applications and the intelligence within those applications have to improve. In line with Moore’s law, the devices themselves will have greater processing power, so in 2015 and beyond, devices could well become as powerful as an entire data center is today. This will lead to a new breed of stronger and more capable applications to run on them.

The right starting point – architecture for change

As we’ve seen, mobility is definitely gaining traction among business today, but there are still many organisations that are yet to realise its potential. In order for this to happen, greater awareness and education is needed to help overcome the current barriers: security, multiple device and application management, shorter rollout timings and issues around trust.

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The IT department is well placed to lead on this change and making the right architectural choices is an essential starting point, both in terms of the user, the services delivered and the control and management of mobile devices.

If mobile first is truly going to take off, employees should have one place to securely access all the applications, files, social tools and online services they need, from any device they choose, everywhere. Taking the route of the mobile cloud will enable businesses the ability to govern and monitor access to data, giving a much stronger chance of protecting this data.

> See also: Five mobile app trends that will change the way you do business in 2015

The user needs easy access to all the services to which they’re entitled through a single and swift mechanism, and this needs to be invisible to them. Whilst the credentials are under control of IT, the policy needs to be easily digested by the end-user; mobility is more about policy across non IT business units such as HR, finance and the wider workforce (whether that is consultants, office staff or shop floor assistants for example).

The services need to be device-independent if IT is going to have the necessary control and security levels.

Control needs to be through the application of policy – the language of management and an essential engine which establishes the permissions for which user has access to which services.

As we look into the future, the issue around managing mobile devices will actually go away and the platform itself will take on this role. So as more and more applications become mobile aware and more and more apps are moved to the cloud, organisations will need a stronger security layer to manage those devices.

Moving towards a mobile first future

Many employees today are very tech savvy and have a sense of what IT can provide – perhaps even should provide – based on what they experience in their personal lives. With 24/7 access to emails, social networking applications and personal data such as mobile banking and health and fitness applications, why should they not have the same experience within the workplace?

A similar approach to business data, with 24/7 access to information, offers employees the ability to make better informed decisions, improve responsiveness and customer service, reduce the time to market, and enhance business process transformation. Importantly, being able to access information how and where the end-user wants is also incredibly empowering and democratising – giving employees the feeling of greater choice in the way they can add value to an organisation.

This is especially suited to the more globalised, international market we now operate in, where greater flexibility is required. If workers are using locked-down desktops controlled by the company, they’ll likely feel forced to operate in a particular way, whereas being given more freedom inspires greater trust and feelings of inclusion.

Concerns over trust, ownership and delivery capability have, until now, held some organisations back from taking advantage of the mobile cloud era, but with the right tools and solutions available, now is the time to fully embrace mobility within the workplace and to start to reap the benefits.

Sourced from Alistair Wildman, managing director for End-User Computing (EUC) at VMware EMEA

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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