In 2013, mobility continued to be one of the top tech trends, and according to Gartner’s report, “The Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2013,” up to 89 percent of all organizational IT departments now support bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies.
What’s ahead for 2014? Here’s a glimpse of nine key mobile workforce trends that could affect your organization:
1. Continued rise of the mobile worker
The rapid adoption of smartphones and the increasing globalization of workforces are converging to create enterprises with extensive mobility. Look for this to continue into the next year, especially as mobility creates a more flexible work environment.
2. Blurred lines between home and work
This boundary is almost erased for many workers, as employees check their work email on evenings and weekends, and answer personal emails during the workday. As this trend continues, IT will have to determine the best way to encourage security without squashing productivity.
3. Intensified user preferences
Everyone has an opinion on the best devices and apps, and in a BYOD setup, they get to voice those preferences. Although this can create headaches for IT, allowing the mobile workforce to choose their own technology can be beneficial for employee retention and overall growth.
4. Stronger mobile workforce policy
Although the majority of companies have mobility in their business, only 18 percent of those surveyed by Gartner have a well defined mobile strategy. As enterprise mobility gains even more traction in the year ahead, IT will have to spearhead efforts to develop stronger mobile policies and make them enforceable.
5. Continued rise of Mobile IT
Enterprise mobility hasn’t always translated to enterprise IT mobility, which means that IT often operates in a traditional, silo-type model. But in 2014, it’s likely that more companies will find value in bringing core IT functions in line with their mobile strategy, giving IT much more connectivity. For a discussion of how IT can implement BYOD in their departments for IT management, see the white paper, Mobilizing the Business of IT.
6. Support for multiple platforms and devices
There’s a strong argument for supporting native apps, but that approach has its downsides as well. Rolling out separate versions to support different devices can increase complexity, especially for support. In the year ahead, look for multi-platform support executed as a part of a holistic mobile management strategy.
7. Apps as a pain point
In a BYOD setup, it’s not usually the devices that present the most challenges; it’s the apps that the mobile workforce downloads off the Web or from online stores. Security will continue to be an issue, and IT will have to spend more time dealing with app-related problems like updates and patches.
8. More tablet usage
Tablet computers like the iPad are generally still considered to be consumer devices, but in the year ahead, it’s likely to gain more traction in the enterprise, according to several analysts. That’s because it’s handy for Web conferences, and IP PBX vendors are busy trying to integrate tablets into their product mixes. According to Gartner, the enterprise could account for up to 35 percent of worldwide tablet sales by 2015.
9. HTML5 apps will be more popular
As HTML matures, there’s likely to be a significant shift away from native apps, Gartner predicts. Enterprises will find that Web-based apps will provide the same level of functionality as native apps, but without the expensive, time-consuming development.
In general, look for mobility to continue driving organizations in the coming year. The benefits of mobility for the enterprise make it more and more popular, and IT departments will need to continue to innovate and find new ways to both enable and regulate a mobile workforce.