At my last visit to the hair salon, my hairdresser gracefully pulled out his iPad and walked me through different hairstyles that would suit my face. Traditionally, we would have communicated using the limited stacks of hair magazines or through our favorite stars to decide what haircut I would like. Now, this was really impressive and cool, and I was very happy with my new look.
K-12 schools are yet another place tablets are being put to work. One in particular, an elementary school in Arlington, focused on deploying iPads with educational apps for every student. Schools are now looking at deploying different learning strategies that encourage student engagement and increased achievements. Many educational institutions such as Anderson County Schools are launching bring your own device (BYOD) programs to harness the big potential of small devices.
Mobile devices are revolutionary and remarkable. Once strictly used for voice calls, they have made the transition to handheld computer. The more connected our device is, the more valuable it is to us. Mobile technology has changed the way we plan our vacations, find our restaurants, educate our children and interact within our social community. Burger King, Starbucks, Citibank and other various businesses are leveraging mobile technology for increased customer engagement. According to Retail Touchpoints, 75% of retail businesses are using mobile technologies for improving in-shop sales.
There are plenty more use cases out there, and you don't have to go very far to find them. It gets interesting when you stop and consider how we got where we are today. Here is my list of the key features and technologies that have been instrumental in the rise of mobile devices:
This technology has been gaining popularity for its ease of use, low maintenance, small size and how well it helps users help themselves. Touchscreen devices typically have large intuitive user interfaces which make them a convenient tool for browsing, viewing photos and reading content. While some may argue that their virtual QWERTY keyboards have low precision, they foster agile typing and help us navigate across different features and functions of our mobile device in a blink of an eye. Touchscreens are here to stay. They’ve eliminated need for the BlackBerry trackball and have forced us to bid goodbye to our old black and white screens. After the capacitive touchscreen technology, I am looking forward to the dynamic touchscreen technology that provides a virtual keyboard on the go.
Mobile applications are the core modules of a smartphone or a tablet. They not only define our smartphone experience but also provide us with volumes of information on the go. Many businesses are now launching their mobile apps to connect with the customers, inform them about new products and services, and build loyalty. A recent survey by App Builder Asia suggests key reasons leading to adoption of mobile apps among SMEs (small to medium enterprises) are:
- Consumerization of mobile technology or BYOD
- Rise of the cloud and cloud-based services
- Need to always stay connected with employees and customers in today’s competitive market space
Mobile application management (MAM) can however pose some challenges for IT administrators. Many enterprises are including an enterprise app store (EAS) in their mobile device management (MDM) strategy to protect their networks and improve the productivity of their workforce.
Mobile cloud-based services
With the rise of mobile devices, cloud computing has also gained popularity. Cloud computing services have always been popular among businesses as they are easy to use, have a global reach, and provide ROI gains and a scalable architecture. Some of the popular mobile cloud-based services are:
- Cloud storage: Mobile cloud storage services allow users to connect their mobile devices to the cloud and upload, store and retrieve content at their convenience. Using remote mobile applications such as Pocket Cloud, users can connect to their PCs and retrieve important files/data. Some of the popular cloud storage facilities are iCloud, Drive, SkyDrive.
- Cloud-based mobile device management: As per Gartner, cloud-based MDM is hot. Enterprises are using cloud-based MDM solutions to efficiently manage their increasing fleet of devices, provide data backup services and maintain a tighter grip on their networks and devices. Some enterprises also complement their MDM solution with a MAM solution for building and deploying mobile apps.
- Cloud-based endpoint security: This cloud -based service sniffs the content on the mobile device for spam, viruses or any malware threats. Before loading the content on the mobile browser, the content is inspected for any suspicious activity in the cloud. In case any suspicious activity is detected, the user is notified. If needed, the user may then select a quarantine action or may choose to remove those infected files.
- Cloud-based mobile payment services: Mobile payment services are gaining momentum for their reduced transaction fees and increased convenience. Built-in security features make it a much safer payment option and less vulnerable to fraud than payment options like cash or a credit card or debit card. Many retailers are looking at deploying mobile payment infrastructures in their premises for boosting sales, being more connected with their customers, and providing consolidated product information for better shopping experiences. Some of the popular cloud-based mobile payment services available are Square, Google Wallet and PayPal.
It is important for users to educate themselves on the best practices (e.g., always-on screen lock, using complex screen passwords, using secured networks for internet access) and to be aware of the potential risks involved. If their phone is stolen or damaged, it is recommended that users turn off this service through remote device management software.
Mobile cloud-based services also have some delimiting factors. For a good experience, it is important that the cloud-connected mobile devices have an uninterrupted connection to the cloud. Secondly, the more information that lies in the cloud, the less control one has over it. Hence, it is important that IT administrators monitor what kind of enterprise data is being uploaded on the cloud by their BYOD employees.
Mobile internet has redefined internet access. It empowers an individual to be connected on the go. While waiting for a friend in a mall, we can conveniently look for information, read online content, play games, and watch movies. Employees often use mobile internet to remain connected to work even beyond the office perimeters. This not only expedites smooth functioning of the business but provides a better work-life balance for the individual.
Inexpensive, innovative technology
Today’s mobile market is flooded with a myriad of mobile devices; tablets, smartphones, laptops, netbooks, ultra books, e-readers, wireless printers, flash drives and much more. To keep up with user needs and growing competition, vendors are introducing feature-rich products and services at very competitive, affordable prices. Thus, a user can easily pick a device for his needs from an infinite range of mobile devices. As these mobile devices find their way into the enterprises, IT administrators must adopt efficient MDM strategies to harness the benefits of these devices.
The mobile tech revolution has just begun and there are many technologies such as mobile voice on the horizon. So, is your business going mobile? Is your infrastructure mobile ready? Are you taking advantage of the mobile revolution?