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As we enter a new year, the importance of mobiles as critical business tools is set to grow according to a new report by David Krebs of VDC Research. So what can we expect?

By Gloria Lombardi (@LOMBARDI_GLORIA)

You have probably just checked your preferred news app to catch up with the latest headlines, maybe that social media app to chat with your best friends. Or you have jotted down some thoughts on the notes app. Whatever you fancy to do, mobile has become the go to technology to meet your everyday needs. It almost feels like that.

st1Not just at home though – with 1.3 billion workers going mobile in 2015, this quite extraordinary revolution is radically changing the life at work.

And, according to ‘Looking ahead to 2016: the Enterprise Mobility Exchange analyst insight report‘ by VDC Research‘s David Krebs, 2016 will boost the role of mobility as the survival kit for instant knowledge and real-time collaboration inside companies worldwide.

Apps will be the epicenter of digital transformation

The next generation of enterprise mobile apps will become more intelligent. From the study, a consistent trend turns out: organisations are moving towards more dynamic applications that offer greater contextual information, environmental sensing and measurement capabilities. This trend will continue well into 2016. Krebs asserts that “mobile applications will be designed to interact more fluidly with other applications and respond dynamically to the surrounding environmental data.”

What will this mean from an employee communications perspective? Krebs describes four distinct but related forms of value creation:

  • Seamless integration of workflows across multiple channels
  • Greater levels of personalised services and interactions based on employees’ preferences and needs
  • The autonomous communications between field workers and their mobile solutions will produce interactive analysis of the surrounding environment giving people the opportunity to adapt their work to the specific situation they are in. A variety of roles – from field technicians to maintenance engineers, warehouse staff and retail associates – will be benefitting from accessing data quickly and easily as well as capturing information while on the go
  • The ability to respond more intuitively to workplace interactions enabled by smart alerts

“With mobile becoming business-critical and more strategic across all industry segments, investments in mobile applications that allow employees to be equally productive, whether they are at their desks or mobile, are inevitable.”

Krebs’ statement is backed up by the report’s findings. Interestingly, following ‘sale and marketing’ (48%), the research shows that ‘field services’ (44%) is the second business unit where organisations are deploying mobile apps and focusing their investment for 2016.

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Employees apps will continue to rise

Indeed, organisations are aware that enabling a mobile workforce can bring them immediate productivity gains. As a consequence, the adoption of employees applications continues to expand.  According to the report, large enterprises have employed around 128 mobile apps so far and are expecting their deployment to grow by over 16% in the next year or two.

“Businesses continue to be drawn to mobile applications as they look for inventive ways to minimise costs while simultaneously improving communication and collaboration across their organisations.”

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…but there will be governance challenges

However, with the significant opportunities that mobile devices are creating into the workplace, come the challenges. This is particularly true to organisations that go beyond the use of applications like email, messaging and calendars.

One of the main barriers is that many companies have not created an effective mobile-first business strategy, which in turn reduces employees’ satisfaction with the mobile initiative. To change this situation, writes Krebs, communication is crucial – organisations must address their internal silos and “open the dialogue” across all their line of business.

Another key concern remains governance: “Growing digital data regulations in various sectors, such as health care and government, mean that companies have to be sure they know exactly where their data is stored, who is transferring it, and what the level of encryption is for all of their content.”

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Looking ahead of 2016

Mobility is not an option anymore – it is the way people expect to work and communicate today. The mobile phenomenon will only continue to evolve with more advanced technology entering the workplace in 2016. This evolution will create a competitive advantage for those businesses capable of embracing it.

It is a challenging, yet fascinating, endeavour as Krebs’ paper shows. As long as enterprises care to think about the strategic and practical purposes of their business and are deliberate in choosing apps that meet their employees’ needs, so does come the opportunity to improve internal communications, transform workflows and boost productivity.

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