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Is a Mobile Enterprise the Future?

By Mike Mullane | October 12, 2012 | Blog

The recent release of the iPhone 5 created a global disturbance. Consumers lined-up outside Apple retail stores for hours on end, just to get their hands on a slightly-different version of the smart phone they already have. This almost carnal need to constantly have bigger, better, faster mobile access is a prime example of the reliance consumers today have on mobile technology.

Given that sales for the iPhone 5 are expected to be much larger than the previous iPhone debut, analysts from JP Morgan believe that iPhone 5 sales could boost GDP by $3.2 billion ($12.8 billion at an annual rate). Chief economist Michael Feroli said, “This estimate seems fairly large, and for that reason should be treated skeptically. However, we think the recent evidence is consistent with this projection.” After all, consumer spending accounts for 70% of GDP, so pending the outcome of iPhone sales, these projections could be spot on.

Today, there are nearly 400 million iOS devices in the world. This number is staggering; there’s no doubt about that. However, it seems mobile is apparent more so now than ever before because as we go about daily business, our heads are buried into mobile devices, and as some have put, no one looks up anymore. We all now rely on the fact that we can communicate constantly, and this is what mobile allows.

On the customer side, the adoption rate is driven by individual consumer choice. We can walk into our local wireless store (or click on a website) and purchase the latest and greatest smartphone. The moment we leave the store we can browse and download an app, almost instantaneously; the reason being that more businesses and organizations have mobile sites. One app downloaded leads to another, and yet another.

According to iphoneincanada.ca, the number of downloaded apps is approximately 10 billion. The number of apps per iOS device is around 60. As this occurs, the smartphone starts replacing our PC devices. The driving factor is the desire for a much higher level of convenience, efficiency, and personal productivity in our personal lives.

Why get a paper delivered when I can read the news on my phone?

Why call and order a pizza when I can click my Domino’s app (changing the order multiple times while asking my family what they want).

Why wait in line to buy movie tickets, when I can purchase them on my phone?

Why wait to get my boarding pass at the kiosk, when I can check-in online while walking to security?

Remember the days when we went to MapQuest on our PC and printed out directions? Right, neither do I.

Adoption rates on the corporate side have historically been much slower. This is mainly driven by the long standing cultural model of doing work on a ‘work PC’ that is provided and supported by an IT department. This is not a bad model per say; it’s worked well for the past several decades. However, the ‘work PC’ is now being replaced as savvy business people (i.e. mobile consumers) are now bringing their personal mobile devices into the corporate world. There is a strong desire for a much higher level of convenience, efficiency, and personal productivity in their business lives. Are your employees asking to be more productive? Providing capabilities that support mobile might be your answer.

And what about this…as executives, why do we still fly around with laptops? Do we really need them anymore, or are we simply trapped in an old cultural model?

It has been a slow process trying to convert; a process which is still crawling at a snail's pace today, but mobile is most certainly moving into the enterprise. There is immeasurable value in the notion of having completely mobile workers. However, before that can happen, there must be a major paradigm shift. Today, managers are tied to their PCs, not because they have to be, but because it's where they are comfortable. IT executives must take the initiative to push people through barriers toward greater efficiency and mobility.