Are You Ready For The New Mobile Reality?

We are entering a new PC era—only this time we're talking "personal cloud." Here, fresh Gartner Research predictions about how the way we work will impact our lives and careers in significant ways.

About 800 top IT and business managers recently met in San Diego to attend the Gartner Portal, Content, and Collaboration Summit, organized by Gartner Research, a leading information technology research and advisory company. At the summit, top Gartner analysts disclosed new technology predictions and highlighted important new market trends.

The theme for the event revolved around what Gartner calls the "Nexus of Forces," which is the convergence and mutual reinforcement of social, mobile, cloud, and information patterns that drive new business scenarios. According to Gartner, these forces are converging to "create new patterns in technology use, business reality, market dynamics, and changes to the lives of people."

A variety of Gartner analysts discussed these patterns during two and half days of intensive sessions. From these sessions, I have selected some choice Gartner observations and predictions, what I think this means for you, and what you need to know in order to stay ahead of the curve.

Gartner Observations and Predictions

  • Over 60% of employees report using a personal device for work.
  • We are entering a new "PC" (personal cloud) era, where people utilize 4 to 6 computing devices, which are not standardized. People want freedom of choice to select their devices.
  • Companies will increasingly institute ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD) programs that don’t reimburse employees for purchased technology. BYO programs will become mandatory ‘cost cutting’ programs.

What This Means For You: You may be free to pick your own technology, but it will come at a price (literally). Not only will you be expected to foot (at least part of) the bill, you may be expected to provide at least partial support for the device as well. And the more devices you have, the more you may have to rely upon unofficial channels for help when things go awry. The era of a single device will not materialize. Privacy and data ownership will continue to remain an issue. For more on this, see "Making Sure BYOD Doesn’t Mean ‘Bring Your Disaster’"

What You Need to Know: My advice is: keep it simple. Use products that provide a consistent user experience across all the devices you own. In the consumer world, products like Skype, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Flipboard all provide consistent applications on all popular mobile devices, so using them anywhere has become a no-brainer. Achieving this at work is more difficult, because you need to use access information from different enterprise products and services supplied by a host of vendors, but getting this right will be the key to simplifying your life. Eliminating the need to learn new interfaces for each device will go a long way to making your daily experience smooth and simple.

Gartner Observations and Predictions

  • Smartphone shipments will outnumber conventional mobile phones for the first time this year, capturing 52% of the world market and reaching 78% of shipments by 2016.
  • Worldwide tablet shipments will reach 197 million units in 2013, up nearly 70% from 2012.
  • By 2015, over 80% of the handsets sold in mature markets will be smartphones, and only 20% of those handsets are likely to be Windows phones
  • The era of PC dominance with Windows as the single platform will be replaced with a post-PC era where Windows is one of a variety of environments that IT will need to support
  • Mobile app projects will outpace desktop projects 4:1 in the next few years.

What This Means For You: The explosion of a variety of mobile devices will make us truly available anytime, anywhere….for good and bad. Work/life balance will suffer, as we are asked to do more, faster. The number of devices we will use is only going to increase, as smart "screens" become ubiquitous in our cars, offices, homes, and everywhere in between. Developers are focusing on providing "run anywhere" applications in order to scale to the increasing number of devices.

What You Need to Know: The dream of standardizing on one product, one interface, from one provider is not going to happen in our lifetimes, so adopting a comfortable set of hardware devices is going to be key to keeping order in your life. Don’t just pick the most popular products, but rather those that fulfill your specific requirements (availability of particular apps, security, in-house support, etc.).

Gartner Observations and Predictions

  • 75% of respondents have six or more content repositories. Initiatives to consolidate around a single content management system seldom work, because the initiative is expensive, objections are likely from some stakeholders and pressure to implement new competing technologies is almost immediate.
  • By 2015, at least 60% of information workers will interact with content applications via a mobile device
  • Consumer-centric services will focus on identity, presence, context, activities, and relationships. Company centric services will focus on security, personalization, information aggregation, integration and aggregation.

What This Means For You: With smartphones and tablets becoming dominant personal computing platforms, you will be receiving the bulk your important information via devices that are untethered from the grid. Email, news, and business updates, social interactions, and document collaboration with colleagues will all happen on multiple devices. New ways will emerge to receive and consume protected business information from a variety of sources, in an contextually-aggregated manner. This new approach to information management will represent the next quantum leap in how we consume our information at work; in much the same way that email changed the way we communicate in business, about 20 years ago.

What You Need to Know: Get ready by preparing for a future where multiple application vendors and information providers will prevail. Architect your organization to adopt solutions that aggregate application information in a secure and intuitive manner. Leverage cloud services where appropriate and focus on mobile standards like HTML5. Follow standards and industry interoperability efforts closely for new developments.

Leave a comment below or tweet me at @dlavenda.

Author David Lavenda is a product strategy executive at a high-tech company. He also does academic research on information overload in organizations and he is an international scholar for the Society for the History of Technology. He tweets from @dlavenda.

[Giraffe: Kjersti Joergensen via Shutterstock]

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1 Comments

  • renae dawson

    The Gartner survey's statement the "half of the world’s companies will seek from their workers to individually provide devices for work by 2017" is reality is going to create such a security issue for networks in the coming years. Security and especially data security are the main challenge for most organization and BYOD, but there are many solutions out there. I think one of the more interesting solutions that shows how fast BYOD solutions are evolving; is that companies are writing their own data security apps that use API's like Tigertext's SOX/HIPAA compliant texting TigerConnect API, or the Dropbox API, that run on multiple device and OSes. I think you will see more companies using this strategy to deal with BYOD, and although it is not a complete solution, it is very applicable for many situations and businesses.