Whilst in the past, Mobile World Congress was a show that only attracted mobile operators and handset manufacturers, over the past few years the audience has widened beyond the mobile industry to encompass representatives from virtually every sector.
There is a very good reason for this too. Since BlackBerry put email in your pocket, the role mobile plays within organisations has grown in importance. Apps in the post Apple era have further cemented the role of mobility in enterprise. At this year’s show, the consumer announcements were thinner on the ground than in the past.
Instead, it was the enterprise market and Machine to Machine (M2M) communication that got the most attention. A raft of companies announced Mobile Device Management (MDM) tools and security apps, such as AVG, to help protect Android devices. Notably, the current Android device leader Samsung announced its Android enterprise software, KNOX. KNOX is designed to make Android secure enough for enterprise use and includes a secure app container to protect sensitive data. We can expect to see it on new devices from later this year.
Whilst M2M has been around for a number of years in the automotive industry, where cars were able to deliver data to emergency services or manufacturers to help alert about possible faults, it is now spreading far and wide.
The ability to connect virtually any device via a cellular connection is one of the reasons enterprises shouldn’t overlook mobility planning. When it comes to helping to improve business flow, ensuring that technical staff can respond quickly to any issues needs to be a high priority. In the past, this would be done from a central location, but M2M and mobile apps will help to change that.
The ability to deliver real-time information to employees that need it, combined with the other standard features of a mobile device such as GPS-mapping, communication, photography and other tools, shows the power of mobile.
Building on an app created by Mubaloo for UNITE, the student housing group, it would be possible to imagine M2M being implemented to help alert engineers when there are issues with properties run by the company. Rather than tenants having to alert UNITE of problems, the properties themselves could start to deliver health reports. If units were starting to go wrong, any issues could be caught sooner – making the likelihood of repair easier, especially if the M2M mechanics were set up to identify what was wrong.
Elsewhere from Mobile World Congress this year, there were three open-source OSes all showing what they have to offer. None of the offerings from Firefox, Tizen or Ubuntu are likely to make much of an impact in the enterprise world, unless they can get real market traction. While interesting in places, they are trying to enter a market dominated by Apple and Google. The fight for third place, we think, is firmly with Blackberry and Microsoft.
A number of phones that verge on tablet size also made an appearance, largely from Chinese manufacturers. As demonstrated by Samsung, the ability to do split screen on a mobile is another example of how mobiles can be used for productivity is another key indicator of what can be achieved on a mobile phone.
Mark Mason, CEO