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Mobile-first: Not so head in the clouds now

(Image credit: Image Credit: Varnish Software)

As enterprise technology advances and more companies turn toward non-traditional, work-from-anywhere solutions, cloud software is rapidly becoming the management platform of choice for enterprise mobility efforts. This digital migration to the cloud is accelerating so quickly that, by 2019, 90 per cent (opens in new tab) of all mobile data traffic is predicted to be generated by cloud software.

Since businesses are heavily leveraging cloud technology to manage their enterprise mobility programs, software developers are evolving to meet this growing contemporary demand. As a result, almost all of today’s cloud solutions are being developed with a mobile-first mindset—and these solutions are bringing big returns to the organisations that adopt and embrace them.

While each cloud software vendor has its own unique justification for designing mobile-centric products, a handful of universally recognised industry trends are largely responsible for driving the increasing synonymy between these two technologies. Let’s look at three major reasons that explain why cloud software is being designed mobile-first and how each benefits businesses:

The mobile age has begun

While most are unsure of exactly when it happened, experts agree that recent spikes in mobile technology usage have made mobile devices more popular than their desktop counterparts for the first time. In fact, today’s mobile devices account for almost two-thirds (opens in new tab) of total time spent surfing the web, and 33 per cent (opens in new tab) of users already consider a smartphone their primary device.  

Now that most organisations have at least shifted their company culture to view mobility in a positive light, employees and enterprises are able to experience this technology’s benefits like never before—and cloud developers have been quick to notice this change. By leveraging cloud solutions, employees are enabled with corporate data access at any time and from anywhere. That means enterprises gain an extra 240 (opens in new tab)hours (or six full-time weeks’ worth) of work per mobile-empowered employee every year.

In addition to convenience and constant connectivity, present-day mobile devices have another advantage: applications. Apps certainly increase customer engagement rates and (hopefully) revenues, but businesses have found that the feedback they offer can be every bit as valuable. By mining collected data, companies can uncover unknown customer insights, improve their knowledge of target audiences, and create longer-lasting buyer relationships.

Cloud technology has taken the world of mobile apps a step further. By developing an app in the cloud instead of through traditional channels, enterprises can remove operating system and/or device memory restrictions. Employees are free to use whichever device and software combination they’re most comfortable with to get the job done, and can do so without installing or storing anything on their phone. 

On-the-go isn’t going anywhere

Digitally enabled workforces are distancing themselves from traditional models as more and more millennials climb the corporate ladder. Currently, at least 40 per cent (opens in new tab) of employees around the world work outside a regular office setting—and that figure is only going to increase moving forward. Cloud solutions are becoming a necessary innovation for employees that depend on remote access to interact with customers and stay informed.

Don’t expect mobile workforces to disappear anytime soon either. Companies have found that mobile devices not only make 51 per cent (opens in new tab) of workers more productive, they also save money and alleviate enterprise pain points. Easily scalable infrastructure that doesn’t require additional expenses, being able to hire talent from anywhere, and uncovering brand-new revenue streams are just a few real-world examples made possible by cloud-enabled mobility.

Coming together to protect data

Another emerging trend influencing cloud solution design is the convergence of technology management. As enterprises adopt and incorporate new technologies into existing management programs, tracking device inventories and monitoring user behaviour across multiple databases and systems is extremely time-consuming and tedious. Cloud software capable of uniting disparate workflows and processes offers tremendous value to today’s mobility programs.

Without a virtually unlimited cloud storage system, implementing a data-heavy innovation like the Internet of Things (IoT) is out of the question for most companies. These devices continuously communicate with one another to capture, retrieve, and/or store data—enterprises will need cloud software to manage 20-30 billion (opens in new tab) worldwide IoT devices by 2020.

Mobile data security’s evolution in recent years has also nudged cloud developers closer toward these technologies. Where Mobile Device Management (MDM) was once concerned with locking devices down, Unified Endpoint Management (UEM) solutions are now primarily concerned with data access points. This means sensitive information no longer needs to reside on an internal system to remain safe.

Five advantages of mobile-first cloud solutions:

Lower Costs – By shifting the burden of procurement and maintenance to a third party, organisations can use cutting-edge hardware without making large purchases or paying unpredictable monthly support costs. These solutions also allow mobility programs to scale without hiring additional IT staff members, saving companies the small fortune it takes to pay these professionals.

Increased Productivity – When an organisation eliminates tedious, labour-intensive processes and decides to invest in collaborative tools empowered by cloud software, it’s capable of increasing employee productivity by as much as 400 per cent. Centralising and streamlining workforce data access ultimately leads to improved business flexibility, functionality, and efficiency.  

Minimised Management Burdens – An external cloud solution shifts the risks and day-to-day program management tasks to an outside partner, freeing up internal resources for more strategic initiatives. This also means routine maintenance work and software security updates aren’t internal IT’s responsibilities any longer.

Accessibility – Cloud technology doesn’t just centralise mobile data; it also creates brand-new user access capabilities. By updating, managing, and enforcing data access protocols, mobility programs are granted remote and offline privileges. Employees are enabled by enterprise technology to engage customers, make sales, and get work done from anywhere in the world.

Increased Sales – Simplified information delivery methods made possible by cloud software also make sales data viewable and trackable in real-time, allowing current market trends and buyer behaviours to be rapidly analysed and acted on. Enhanced responsiveness almost always leads to increased revenues and a more positive customer experience overall.

Despite the growing popularity of mobile-first cloud software and its long list of benefits, 75 per cent (opens in new tab) of today’s organisations still don’t have a fully cohesive cloud strategy in place. As more and more companies incorporate this technology into their enterprise mobility program operations, look for cloud service providers to continue to innovate with mobile devices in mind.

Mitch Black, President, MOBI (opens in new tab)
Image Credit: Varnish Software