Companies connect with mobility, because their employees have driven the internal adoption of the technology to increase productivity, be more available to communicate, add efficiency and simplicity to their workday—and of course, have some fun with games, social media and videos too. Most companies have reached the inflection point where their employees are no longer driving mobile adoption because the company sees enough value of mobility to build it into their policies, practices and IT budgets. From “Mobile First” to smartphones to apps to BYOD—companies have widely embraced mobility technology and practices. It’s been the technological advances that has led each of the past two mobile eras—first on cellular and wireless network technology (2G, 3G, 4G, Wi-Fi) which ran from 1993-2003 and now on devices (smartphone, tablet, wearable) and the apps they run—that has increased adoption and usage at every step.
So the focus of the mobile enterprise in the current and past era was on the enabling network (1993-2003) and device technology (2003-2018), so what’s next? By all indications, we are just starting the transition to the next mobile era. This era, starting from around 2018 will be about the integration of the hardware, software and network technology into end user computing, enterprise applications, business and consumer offerings, into just about anything. By 2018, we will have entered this next mobile era, the “era of integration”, where mobile technology is not a separate entity but fully adopted and integrated as part of the solution.
For example, wireless radio and network technology costs have decreased enough to be integrated into many different types of devices and sensors, not just computing ones. The latest hype has been about the Internet of Things (IoT) which market analysts predict anywhere from 20 to 50 billion things will be networked in the next five to ten years. But the value is the integration of these things and the data gained from real-time wireless connectivity. Wearable watches that track your sleep, your exercise and your calorie intake—then load the data into a health application to give advice on eating and sleeping habits is just one of the possibilities. The integration era takes that data and feeds it to your healthcare giver and becomes part of your medical profile, which track your well-being in much greater depth and detail than ever before and provide preventive medicine to anticipate medical issues.
Another example is in the insurance industry. Auto insurers like Allstate, Progressive and State Farm already have programs called usage-based insurance where customers that allow them to track their vehicle speed, usage and location (through a wireless sensor in the car-device era), can get discounts on insurance premiums. The next step during the era of mobile integration will be for that (anonymous) data to feed back into vehicle manufacturers to use to engineer safer cars, from crash information, for example. That’s just the beginning. More auto manufacturers are following the Tesla example by adding wireless connectivity to their vehicles when they are built. Brands like Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Fiat have adopted UConnect to offer system upgrades, vehicle health reports and in-car hotspots.
These examples will continue to grow—whether sensors used in retail stores for the tracking of customers and providing customized offers, to hospitality in hotels for quicker change over in rooms and tables at restaurants. The era of mobile integration is just beginning and the opportunities are endless. But at the same time, an increased vigilance on security and data privacy needs to be built-in from the start. The recent example of hacking a car and gaining control of its systems is a cold reminder of how dangerous this future can be if not properly secured. As financial transactions start migrating to the phone with Apple Pay and Google Wallet, the use of advanced tokenization will be needed to ensure secure transactions, data privacy and security. The good news is that there is still time to prepare, and as mobile is integrated into all technology and transactional capabilities—so will new security practices that promise turnkey solutions. Get ready because the next era is upon us.