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Enterprise mobility – 30 years in mobile

2015 sees the 30th anniversary of Britain’s first mobile phone call. 30 years on, we look at how the role of the mobile phone has changed significantly from simple telecommunication to a device which allows companies to be more efficient through the use of apps.

2015 marks a number of anniversaries. This year, in May, it will be 70 years since the end of World War II – a war that would change the world as we knew it by speeding up the advance of new technologies, such as the birth of modern computing, the jet engine and rockets that would get mankind into space and to the moon. This month, however, sees the 30 year anniversary of Britain’s first mobile phone call.

In the UK, the very first mobile phone call was made just after midnight on New Years eve at the start of 1985 by Michael Harrison, son of Vodafone’s then Chairman, Sir Ernest Harrison. As anyone who has read about this call over the Christmas period will know, Michael had secretly left the family home and surprised his father by calling from Parliament Square.

Later that day, Ernie Wise made the first publicised mobile phone call, marking the start of the mobile industry in the UK. Though it got off to a slow start, mobile phones were hugely popular with the ‘yuppy’ set and became a status symbol for young, wealthy business people.

Over the intervening 30 years, mobile technology has fundamentally changed virtually every aspect of life – as highlighted by this article on The Guardian. In the UK alone, between July and September 2014, 44 billion minutes of mobile calls were made. Now phone calls are just one feature of the devices we use on a daily basis.

With the ‘mobile’ workforce reaching 40% this year, companies are increasingly looking to make further improvements. With smartphones and tablets, it’s no longer about letting people access their emails or calendars, but empowering them to work on the move.

According to a recent report released by Enterprise Mobility Exchange, in 2014 mobile apps were the primary investment made by mobile practitioners within businesses, at 62.5% (defined as C-level, directors, head of line of business, manager within enterprise).

When looking at the main drivers behind investments, it’s clear to see why apps took the number one spot – with increased productivity (67.9%) and improving operational efficiency (50%) cited as reasons for prioritisation. When making investments in new technologies or services, it’s essential that the investment pays back and proves its worth. Time and time again, this is exactly what apps do.

When it comes to the most tangible benefits of mobility investments within companies, time spent on task within the enterprise and competitive advantages were seen as the main advantages, followed closely by field service time spent on task, according to the report. Behind these two internal drivers, it was the improvements to the customer side of the business that benefited most from investments in mobile. Respondents said that investments in mobility led to better loyalty and retention (28.6%) and improved sales (23.2%).

The ability to make calls, send SMS, access email, calendars and other information have been key reasons the mobile phone has been such a constant companion for people in their working lives over the past three decades.

Though bespoke apps may not be relevant for every scenario, or every worker, there are millions of third party apps available which help employees to complete tasks and make their lives easier. Even apps such as Google Maps or CityMapper can take some of the stresses out of travel, helping employees save time on the move.

Though many businesses have made great advances in their mobile journey, companies should never stop. There are always further improvements which can be made by looking at how people use apps or mobile services, looking at what the market is up to and looking at new technologies.

Each year, people claim it will be the year of mobile. However, this misses the point. Ever since the first mobile call was made in the UK, mobile has transformed the way we live and work, helping to keep us better connected and better informed. Therefore, every year for the past 30 years has been the year of mobile. Happy 30th mobile.

Check out the full report here from Enterprise Mobility Exchange.

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