Artificial Intelligence and the future of enterprise mobility

As enterprise mobility evolves, successfully predicting user requests and quickly deploying new technologies will become top IT priorities in 2018 and beyond. Over the next five years, what other mobile technology changes will businesses likely see? 

Recently, MOBI, a global Mobility Management Platform (MMP), conducted a global industry research survey to find out. By analyzing the responses of 300 IT decision makers, all of whom work for multinational organizations that employ at least 1,000 workers, a few surprising future enterprise mobility trends were revealed. 

Artificial Intelligence’s Very Real Potential 

A quick scan of recent media headlines makes Artificial Intelligence (AI) sound like a worst-case scenario for human workers, but IT leaders certainly don’t feel that way. In fact, a reduced human workforce was the least likely outcome of AI implementation according to these experts—only 45% believe it’s a possibility where they work. 

Instead, technology decision makers believe AI will have a positive enterprise impact (well, 99% of them anyway). Among a long list of possible benefits, expect intelligent mobile devices to help workers be more productive, eliminate errors, and reduce the need for employees to perform mundane or repetitive tasks moving forward. 

When looking at how male and female IT workers feel about AI’s potential impact, very few differences can be distinguished. The most noticeable discrepancy between these male and female decision makers is how likely each group believes this technology is to eliminate human errors. While 63% of male decision makers anticipate this happening, only 51% of their female counterparts believe this is a realistic outcome. 

Older IT leaders seem much more likely to dismiss AI and its enterprise effects entirely. Compared to the average respondent, those who are at least 50 years old are more than four times as likely to believe AI will not have much, if any, enterprise impact at all. 

Breaking Down Barriers 

For many organizations, implementing AI is an ongoing process that is still years away from completion. When it comes to automated technology solutions, which current barrier seems to frustrate enterprise mobility managers most? 

Global IT leaders often fail to point to one universally experienced complexity. Instead, a combination of several factors seems to slow down or deter most corporate automation efforts. After all, the four most frequently encountered AI barriers—cost, security unknowns, employee morale concerns, and needing to re-train employees—were mentioned by somewhere between 20% and 28% of all decision makers surveyed. 

C-Suite members and executives tend to be much more aware of AI than the average IT employee. In fact, IT decision makers are more than three times as likely to believe a lack of understanding regarding AI’s business benefits is the main adoption barrier for most businesses. 

Security unknowns are most likely to dissuade inexperienced mobility program managers and older IT decision makers from implementing AI across their enterprises. Corporate technology leaders who are at least 50 years old point to security unknowns 50% more frequently than those under the age of 35.

When segmenting responses by decision-maker gender, different implementation barriers move to the top of each group’s list. While female IT leaders most frequently experience delays and difficulties due to exorbitant costs, males seem to believe preserving employee morale is the most challenging aspect. 

What the Future Holds 

Beyond AI, enterprise mobility efforts are adopting a myriad of other new technologies moving forward. More than half of global IT leaders believe smartphones, laptops, and tablets will be used in virtually every business by 2022, but at least 50% also believe that Machine-to-Machine (M2M) devices, the Internet of Things (IoT), and virtual assistants will be commonly used enterprise tools, too. 

Over the next few years, the approach large and small companies will undertake to adopt new mobile innovations will vary greatly. While fewer than half of all decision makers at companies with between 1,000 and 2,000 employees believe M2M and IoT will be commonly used in the future, larger organizations are more likely to believe these devices (and every other potential mobile technology for that matter) will be everyday enterprise gadgets. 

For IT leaders employed by companies with more than $500 million in revenue every year, data cards and standard mobile phones were tied for twelfth on the list at 42%—that would be good enough for fifth on the list created by decision makers working at companies that generate less than $300 million. 

Wearables were the most popular selection only among IT leaders with less than three years of mobility program management experience. Despite this group’s excitement, enterprise mobility veterans aren’t too inclined to agree. That is why those with more than five years of mobility experience rank wearables ninth likeliest out of 12. 

By 2022, IT decision makers believe the most likely scenario for their own business is that every employee will be aided by his or her own virtual assistant—it was almost four times as frequent as the second most likely response. Female leaders, however, are more likely to believe corporate help desks will be almost entirely run by bots, virtual reality headsets will become common office tools, most employees will work remotely, and mundane tasks will be done by robots five years down the road. 

Organizations with older IT teams may not be preparing and planning for the future at all. When asked, seven percent of decision makers 50 or older weren’t sure whether any new mobile devices or technologies would become commonplace where they work by 2022—when asked about their own company, no other age group had a single “none of the above/don’t know” response. 

How will you prepare remote workers for all of the enterprise mobility industry’s changes in 2018 and beyond? If you haven’t given AI and some of these other new mobile technologies much thought yet, you need start planning your IT program’s future deployment strategies today. After all, the most successful corporate mobility programs don’t accidentally stumble into successful deployments; they plan ahead and prepare for months or years before adopting and implementing new devices. 

Chris Koeneman, SVP at MOBI 

Image Credit: Sergey Nivens / Shutterstock