As consumers and employees alike live in an ‘always-on’, ‘always-connected’ world, there is the expectation that wherever we are, whichever device we have with us, we can be connected and get the information we need, when we need it.
As consumers expect to have easy access to information, technology companies are creating devices to satisfy this need. Whether or not you plan on buying a wearable this year, it’s likely you will start seeing them being worn by increasing numbers of people.
In just a few months, Apple Watch will be released which, if market expectations are met, will trigger wearables to become mass market. Even though the demand is there, as with any new device, users will take time to discover its true value and how it could be used to enhance personal and professional environments.
Just a few years ago, the new device to do this was the tablet. Whilst overall sales of tablets have been slipping, it seems that much of that is down to users not needing to upgrade them as often as they update their phone. Tablets are no longer seen as a novelty gadget used in the home, but have become a useful tool to aid business operations, outside of a conventional workspace.
Despite reports that tablets are declining, recent research conducted by the NDP Group, shows that mobile network use of tablets has soared by 95% in Q4 of 2014, from the previous year. More often than not, employees work in areas where a WiFi connection is not available, or where the connection may not be considered secure for enterprise use cases.
Additionally, Microsoft, Apple and Google have all built powerful productivity tools for tablet devices that help employees to be connected and review documents when on the move. Apple and IBM are also working to continue their roll out of apps designed for iPad, to help different industries and job roles.
Helping to address the ways in which people move from device to device, over the past year, has also seen the big three introduce ways for users to pick up from where they left off. Both Apple’s Continuity and Microsoft’s Convergence, mean that users can seamlessly continue in the app or mobile website from any device (granted, if they use a device running the same OS). Google also has similar functionality built into Chrome for Android devices, helping users to carry on working on another device with a seamless experience. Combined, all of this is giving rise to the omni-channel, omni-device landscape.
In enterprise, having the ability to access information, anytime and anywhere helps businesses operate more efficiently and effectively. For example, salespeople out in the field are able to access key information on existing and prospective clients when they need it. This access to information helps make a substantial difference to their success, the relevance of the information they are discussing and helps reduce post-meeting admin tasks. A further example is in warehouse operations, where systems can be accessed via mobile devices to make information such as delivery, stock or returns to employees available on site, which helps to eliminate the possibility of errors.
Across any sector, it’s possible to find examples of companies who are doing things better now, because they have implemented mobile strategies and re-engineered processes with mobile. Despite this, there’s more to be done. According to a report from last year, the UK faces up to 7.5 million lost working days every week due to workplace inefficiencies.
For some companies, the thought of utilising big data, beacons, WiFi and faster mobile connectivity is daunting. It requires a huge amount of investment and work to change decades old infrastructure to match current and future needs. This is a future where our interactions will be seamless, connected and intelligent. Laying the right foundations now is important.
Companies therefore need to embrace mobilisation and create an environment in which effective IT infrastructures, mobile solutions and back-end systems are in place to meet ever-changing expectations of consumers and employees, or risk the fate of falling behind.