Gartner predicted this week that by 2016 two thirds of the mobile workforce will own a smartphone and 40 per cent of the workforce will be mobile. I believe that, far from heralding the end of desktop computers and landlines, such legacy tools will be essential factors in the mass adoption of new working practices.
Gartner’s prediction this week is that sales of smart devices in 2012 will reach 821 million – passing the billion mark in 2013 – with purchases of tablets by businesses more than tripling to 53 million units.
Forrester also reported earlier in 2012 that that 64 per cent of companies are extending their mobility support in direct response to demands from their staff, and that 66 per cent of employees use at least two different devices for work activities every day – including smartphones, tablets, desktops, and laptops.
I agree that the industry is shaping its mobile strategies based upon the consumer IT revolution, but it is critical for businesses not to disregard those endpoints that have got enterprises to where they are today.
Mobile devices won’t ever totally replace desktop computers for non-speech communications. We have the consumer market to thank for bringing smart devices into the workplace, and there’s no doubt that their role in the future of running a business productively has been cemented.
But they’re more of a reactive device than something you can use comfortably to produce and create business-critical information. A designer, for example, would never use photoshop on a smartphone to complete a job for a client. But what we are essentially forgetting is that a smartphone is, first and foremost, a telephone.
When you’re trying to get hold of someone during the working day you’re most likely to try their landline before their mobile. There is still an underlying reticence to call a person on their mobile, especially if a relationship is in its early stages, because business protocol says they’re probably busy if they’re not at their desk.
Enterprise communications are changing: there is an increasing move towards integrating all lines so that workers have one service provider, with one number across several devices.
With the increasing adoption of voice-prioritised broadband and VoIP, the quality of service is getting ever better, enabling organisations to embrace unified communications strategies and introduce the notion of ‘presence’ in order to maximise productivity levels.
There is no doubt that enabling employees to work effectively while on the move via their smart devices is where enterprise communications will converge, but it will be more of an extension of the office, rather than a replacement.