Despite mobile having a positive impact on the way many businesses have helped to improve operations, data from 451 Research shows that over the past three years, mobile as part of the overall workforce has remained at around 35%. Companies are still lagging behind when it comes to mobilising key operations.

Whilst more organisations are learning to embrace mobile, in the modern sense of apps and process re-engineering, it hasn’t become standard business strategy for many firms.

During 2014, much of the focus was around exploring the opportunities with hyper-location technologies, wearables and new cognitive computing systems. As this exploration phase turns into delivery, 2015 will see some big advances in enterprise mobilisation.

This will be driven by the following 10 factors:

1. Businesses lacking mobile strategy will fall behind competitors

According to data from 451 Research, 37% of companies, and 24% of large enterprises, say they lack a comprehensive mobile strategy. This data indicates that those who don’t will suffer as a result of not thinking about mobilisation – now that the number of companies who focus on strategy outweighs those who don’t.

In 2015, the data shows that 50% of companies, and 60% of large enterprises, will increase investments in enterprise mobility solutions, with 22% seeking an employee who will be able to head mobile strategy.

Businesses who resist mobilisation will increasingly find themselves being leapfrogged by competitors. The companies who take an API first approach, where core systems can be mobilised, will be able to quickly adapt to changes in the market and innovate at a faster level.

It’s vital that companies look at prioritisation with mobile, to identify the areas of the business that will benefit the most from mobilising operations, processes and access to information or tools. As we move into 2015, it’s vital that companies focus on their infrastructure to see where cost effective improvements can be made. Those companies that lack mobile expertise internally will need to make changes to their IT departments to keep up with market changes.

2. Smarter apps talk to each other

80% of businesses say their staff still don’t have access to key business systems that would make their lives easier and more efficient, according to research from O2 and the Centre for Economic and Business Research.

In 2014, MicrosoftDropbox and others all introduced new APIs and SDKs to make it easier for developers and companies to integrate services to third party or custom apps.

At the same time, Apple introduced the ability for apps to share certain types of data with other apps. Though this has been possible with Android for some time, or apps from the same developer, the move makes it easier for developers to create smarter apps. By having access to important data sets, users don’t have to jump from app to app to get what they need. It also means that apps process different data sets to provide users with better information.

Smarter apps are ones that often have multiple, complex levels of integration with backend systems or cloud systems. By being able to link to multiple data sources, or feed information into other parts of the business, companies can deliver additional value to employees, customers, partners and other key stakeholders. These systems can be utilised to drive new levels of business intelligence that deliver granular insight into operations.

3. Smarter apps will be the gateway to the rise in use of cognitive computing

Business apps have always needed data to be intelligent. In 2014, IBM announced a new global challenge for developers to utilise it’s Watson supercomputer to bring cognitive computing to mobile apps. During the course of 2014, we saw Microsoft’s Project Adam, Google’s ‘Google Brain’ and HP Labs showcase ‘The Machine’. Though many of these are further behind IBM’s Watson, they are a taste of what is to come.

In mobile, there are few current examples of Watson apps. It requires understanding and education around how to best utilise the system, which is why 2015 will be when mass adoption starts to take place. One such example of a Watson powered app comes from Pathway Genomics. The app provides personalised options to help users make informed decisions about living a healthier life, which can also be utilised by doctors to help understand patients’ data.

As similar systems continue to come to the market, and companies make better use of the data being generated by other mobile apps, firms can drive better business intelligence and provide more powerful mobile tools to employees and other key audiences.

4. Location-aware technology goes mass market

Location awareness is not new but has been one of the key driving forces for the value of mobile and apps. In 2014 the ability to offer hyperlocal awareness became a reality. Beacons and other hyper-location aware technologies can be used to improve user experiences. By taking a human centric approach, hyper-location technologies can drive better app experiences that are contextual to immediate surroundings. In 2015, we will see more brands and companies utilise this technology as they move beyond education and trials, to deployments.

Over the course of the past year, Microsoft has utilised beacons to help blind people get context for their surroundings in a trial that placed beacons across buses, trains and businesses in Reading and London. Mysis, the financial technology company, utilised beacons across 10 global offices to educate employees about its new branding and positioning. Shops across Brixton utilised beacons to provide mobile payments with the ‘Brixton Pound’.

Hyper-location is making strides into the enterprise market, with companies looking to use the technology to provide field workers with essential information, or the right tools to assist with asset management. There are endless opportunities for utilising location-aware technology to make improvements into the ways in which people interact with the world around them, be it work or play.

In the UK alone, Mubaloo’s Mibeacons division is already working on some of the largest deployments of beacons, designed to drive business process improvement. Beacon technology has also come on leaps and bounds, with companies able to manage mesh beacon deployments that can be centrally managed and controlled.

Outside of the enterprise market, beacons and hyper-location technologies are helping retailers drive additional sales and better app engagement.

According to InMarket, a US company focused on push notifications, beacon marketing campaigns have led to a 19 times increase in interactions with advertised products.

Whilst the statistics around beacons in retail have been promising, they are also introducing a dangerous trend, where brands just think of them as a way to market to consumers in certain locations. If beacons continue down this route, the amount of noise and disruption they will generate could put users off.

5. Contextual design becomes a reality

Driven by a mixture of beacons and wearables, app design can be smarter and more contextual to the user’s activity. This has introduced a new concept of contextual app design where apps present the right information, buttons or functionality, based on where the user is and what they need at that time or in that location.

This means buttons that don’t need to be shown can be hidden away, information displayed can be relevant to exactly where someone is and what they are doing. For the enterprise market, this will help to further cut down on the number of steps required to complete actions. Information will be exactly where it needs to be.

Contextual design will grow with importance as wearables continue to grow. Due to the smaller displays, wearables need to be as easy to interact with as possible, without causing too much distraction.

This is a trend that companies will need to think about when approaching improvements to apps over the next 12 months. It’s not just about the phone or tablet anymore, but how an app responds across devices, how it displays what users need and how it syncs in a way that means users can seamlessly carry on from another device they own.

Take a look at the second part of Mubaloo’s predictions for 2015.

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