Global enterprise mobility trends in 2017

Now that we all have our feet firmly on the ground for 2017, we can begin to traverse the new mobility landscape.

The first quarter of 2017 has brought a flurry of activity in the enterprise mobility space. Starbucks rolled out a new mobile app in India, its fastest-growing market. In the United States, it’s investing in new technology to combat bottlenecks during busy hours created by its successful mobile ordering app. McDonald’s has begun testing its US mobile ordering app, hoping to avoid the app pitfalls of like-minded pioneers like Starbucks and Domino’s. However, food service isn't the only industry experiencing significant returns on enterprise mobility investments. Airlines, auto manufacturers, financial services, and healthcare organisations also find tremendous value in mobility program growth. 

Now that we all have our feet firmly on the ground for 2017, we can begin to traverse the new mobility landscape. Okay, maybe the mobility landscape isn’t totally new, but there are a few trends we’ll see this year that haven’t been on anyone’s radar before. While some trends have a niche-level impact, things like security, bring your own device (BYOD), and mobile data networks affect enterprises worldwide. Here’s how this year’s trends will impact the global enterprise mobility landscape: 

Security still important, but for different reasons

Security has been (and likely always will be) a top enterprise mobility priority, but businesses will soon see security’s focus shift from implementing broad programs to more individualised concerns. The rise of BYOD, apps created by “citizen developers,” and the ability to manage personal privacy while preventing data leakage are just a few new anxieties keeping IT managers and mobility experts up at night.

The good news is that these latest risks can be countered. Containerisation, the creation of an encrypted and authenticated mobile device area, helps separate company data from personal information. Incorporating Mobile Application Management (MAM) into Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM)-supported programs helps companies monitor apps downloaded on corporate or employee-owned devices that are used at work. Developing and/or allowing dual personalities on employee devices also helps maintain the separation of corporate and personal data while restricting data leakage.

The rise of BYOD in EMM

A recent report from Markets and Markets found that the enterprise BYOD market is estimated to grow from $35.10 billion in 2016 to $73.30 billion by 2021. That isn’t totally surprising – with an increasingly mobile workforce comes more employees using personal devices for corporate functions. And while COPE is a solid option for some companies, it can be costly and headache-inducing for many others.

Overhead costs and maintenance fees are big factors when considering BYOD or COPE. Devices are expensive, especially when employees want a variety of smartphones to choose from. In COPE programs, companies typically cover the cost of any lost or stolen devices, which can add up for programs with thousands of employees.

BYOD eliminates enterprise procurement costs and device selection issues by giving employees more freedom and control. BYOD requires more extensive security precautions, but these are usually manageable as long as the right EMM program is in place.

Mobile apps perform better

As advanced as we consider today’s mobile apps, they will seem clunky and antiquated in the not-too-distant future. In 2017, apps will begin to load much faster irrespective of network connectivity. When a device is connected, the app will not only serve the user’s present needs, but it will also take steps to better serve the user when offline. If the user is not interacting with the app, it will be able to update behind the scenes when connected to a network. This advancement also means mobile apps will be useful without a network connection.  

In the near future, look for mobile apps to have a deeper integration with device operating systems. This means an app will interact in new ways with the device’s microphone, camera, and other basic elements. For example, as the battery level on the device decreases, the brightness of the screen will automatically lower and unnecessary apps with location awareness will no longer run in the background, preserving what battery power does remain.

Location-based mobile apps frequently used by consumers are less common in B2B environments. As developers add new location-based features to traditional business apps, they give the app a new-found purpose. For example, adding location awareness to Concur’s Tripit would allow the app to alert a user when it is time to depart for a flight.   

Mobile data networks will go stationary

While this seems contradictory, in 2017 mobile data networks will become relevant for stationary devices. Because the cost to network-enable simple devices is dropping, businesses will begin to optimise IoT sensors and devices around cost, not speed.

Network connectivity components will also be optimised around cost, as IoT communication requires little bandwidth and tolerates most network latency issues. Service providers now recognise IoT as a sub-market and, as a result, will offer usage plans built around the nature of IoT traffic for the first time. All of this adds up to a much more favourable set of economic conditions for IoT deployment, making stationary devices more relevant and useful than ever.

Converged mobility in a device world

IT departments will seek greater control and more effective management of legacy computing devices as they continue to blur the boundaries of mobility. For example, MacBooks are considered laptops, but use Apple’s device enrolment process and rely on EMM for security. Surface Pro devices are another example of these hybrids, as they require LTE network connectivity.

Businesses will move toward a single, flexible solution for all devices rather than managing multiple fragmented systems and inventories. One integrated and unified platform will reduce confusion and quickly become the optimal way to handle enterprise mobility.

As the mobility landscape continues to shift and change, enterprises can start addressing these new trends now. At the end of the day, the best way to ensure device and data security is by configuring and implementing strong EMM support and a seamlessly integrated Mobility Management Platform (MMP) that centralises visibility and program management. Companies leveraging an expert MMP provider have a much better chance to overcome any new mobility challenges that come their way in 2017.

Mitch Black, President, MOBI
Image Credit: Nito / Shutterstock