I was recently asked to give input for an article in the Telegraph on what the world of mobility will look like in the future. Since only part of the content was published, I wanted to share my full vision of the role mobility will play in the next five years and beyond.
We may be reaching peak app usage for consumers as they simply don’t have time for more app consumption. However, in business we haven’t even scratched the surface. While many Fortune 500 companies claim to have developed 100 or more consumer apps, most of them have only created a few for their employees.
- The average number of enterprise apps* at companies with more than 1,000 employees was 5.8 in 2015 (IDC).
- The average proportion of the overall application development budget allocated to mobile is only 10 percent in 2016 (Gartner).
- Virtually all consumer-facing apps and 75 percent of employee-facing apps are expected to be built with a mobile-first mindset by 2017 (IDC).
- The top apps enterprise employees use today are still as basic as e-mail, office apps, CRM and cloud storage. Most companies still don’t even offer an employee directory, intranet access or expense reporting. The apps employees use for work are predominately consumer apps that they’ve downloaded themselves.
* Apps include web and hybrid apps.
The key reasons for slower-than-expected enterprise mobile app adoption until now have been:
a) security concerns,
b) difficulty of accessing backend data
c) the pain of developing apps across multiple platforms
Security concerns will always remain, but with improved device security the applications are as safe on the mobile as on the desktop.
By 2021 we believe that most enterprise applications will be available from mobile devices. This is a huge shift from today where most employee-facing apps are still desktop first. The vast majority of these applications will be delivered through web, hybrid (Cordova and other platforms) and cross-platform (e.g. Xamarin) app technology. New standards such as Progressive Web Apps will also have a positive impact in improving security, speed and reliability of web apps.
In 2017, Apple will launch the iPhone 8, 10, or whatever it will be called for their 10-year anniversary. Although it may not look too different from the first iPhone on the outside it’s a huge leap on the inside and in terms of functionality. Improvements of devices will continue to make employees more mobile and productive.
The battle for the enterprise will continue between Apple and Google with its Android powered partners (Samsung, Lenovo, LG, HTC, etc.). In addition to this we might be in for some surprises from Microsoft. The Microsoft Surface is slowly gathering momentum in the enterprise as a strong alternative to iPad and Android tablets. With the lines blurring between laptops and tablets and between tablets and smartphones, there is still a chance that Microsoft will prove to become a major player in the mobility hardware space.
A study by people from Ericsson predicted that smartphones will be obsolete within 5 years’ time and replaced by AI-powered devices without a screen. This is unlikely, but interactions by voice, movement and context will shape devices over the coming years.
New Technologies Impacting the Enterprise
Beyond apps and devices these are some technology trends/shifts that will have an impact on the enterprise by 2021:
- AI Assistants – Today limited to relatively simple queries and commands (Siri, Google Now and Cortana) and chatbots, but will evolve fast and have a huge impact on organizations within 3-5 years as it starts replacing customer care, support and sales staff.
- Voice recognition – Thanks to major enhancements in voice recognition and AI, employees will use voice as a replacement for keyboards and touch screen input with major impact on every category/industry.
- IoT Control Apps – Apps will enable companies to turn the mobile devices into the remote control for pretty much everything including manufacturing, healthcare and logistics.
- Mindful Apps – PWC spoke about the trend from Workflow to Mindful apps a couple of years ago and this will happen by 2021.
- Blockchain – Enabling micro-transactions and thus new business models in terms of paying per use turning products into services as well as transactional business models between businesses.
- Networks – Faster, more reliable and cost-efficient networks will mean that we generate more image and video data from the field that can be used to improve businesses (e.g. product displays, advertising, etc.).
- Mobile Payments – The norm as smartphones and wearables get integrated into loyalty programs and provide an enhanced experience versus traditional credit/debit cards.
- Invisibles – Sensors will be embedded everywhere enabling devices to collect data, interact and over time become smarter.
Security & Privacy
With more data gathering, monitoring, remote access to sensitive data, artificial intelligence and big data security, privacy will be a huge concern. The implications of this are:
- Application and device security will need to find the right mix between securing organizational data and information, personal privacy and user experience.
- Authentication through biometrics and double authentication will become embedded in secure solutions.
- Privacy by design will become a key requirement for enterprise applications.
- Big data and AI will help assess and prevent security threats and intrusions.
What will mobility look like in the enterprise in 5 years? All the changes mentioned above will have a profound impact. The biggest is most probably artificial intelligence which will make companies and employees more productive and reliable. The opportunities are endless but also scary as it’s almost impossible to keep up.
The winners will be the companies and organizations that reinvent themselves through mobility and not only mobilize what they have today. And most importantly, always put the users of the service first whether they are employees, customers or machines.
See you in 5 years!
Magnus Jern, President DMI International