Why 2017 will be a year of continued evolution for enterprise mobility

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With businesses more commonly embracing mobile-centric strategies throughout 2016, it’s easy to view the past year as a tipping point where companies became serious about mobility. However this doesn’t mean that innovation in enterprise mobility is going to slow down, and 2017 should see the industry accelerate faster than ever. In fact the move toward a mobile only workplace may be happening quicker than many businesses realize, with the recently released Gartner Predicts 2017 Mobile Apps and Their Development forecasting that that by 2022, 70 percent of all software interactions in the enterprise will occur on mobile devices.

The quality and intuitiveness of enterprise mobile apps is also set to accelerate, with Gartner also predicting that by 2021, 50 percent of apps will trigger events for users to make them more efficient. This means that companies wanting to stay at the forefront of enterprise mobility will need to continue meeting evolving employee expectations, while also integrating the latest technologies to deliver the best mobile experience.

Ensuring that every employee can be productive while on the move – and not tethered to their desktop or reliant on paper-based processes – needs to be a focus for all businesses in 2017, and the best way to ensure this is to integrate intuitive and simple to use apps which mobilize key business functions. While this will continue to be at the core of enterprise mobility strategies, there are also a number of trends which will have a significant impact these strategies over the coming year.

Forward-looking companies will evolve from mobile-first to mobile-only

Organisations with large numbers of personnel at the edges of the enterprise, like field service workers or field sales people, have approached the purchase or development of applications with a mobile-first mindset. The combination of the success achieved with many of these efforts and the significant difference in costs for supporting a laptop-and-mobile employee vs. a mobile-only employee will get more organizations planning with a mobile-only approach for field and remote employees. For instance, organizations will start to provide employees with only a tablet or a smartphone, instead of a laptop. We’ve witnessed this evolution before: web-accessible applications evolved to web-only applications, and cloud extensions/alternatives became cloud-only in many cases. We’ll see the same thing happen with mobility in 2017.

Enterprises will realize that SaaS alone does not solve the mobility problem

In 2016, some organizations were rudely awakened from a dream. The dream was that replacing an older legacy application with a modern SaaS/cloud application would magically deliver enterprise mobility and rapid mobile adoption. What they found was that the same enterprise application complexity that limits user adoption of desktop-based applications is also “portable” to mobile platforms. Beyond that, many large organizations will customize their CRM, ERP, and other business applications which can quickly break the out-of-the-box mobile apps from SaaS application providers.

A shortage of mobile developers and designers will spawn a wave of mobile “citizen developers”

Demand for enterprise mobile apps continues to surge, and analyst firms like Gartner have predicted that enterprise mobile demand will outstrip IT’s capacity to deliver by a factor of 5 through 2018. Mobile design and development talent is scarce and generally expensive to apply to employee-facing apps. Next year, low-code and no-code technology will pave the way for non-technical professionals to create mobile apps and even share them with peers in communities of mobile citizen developers.

The post-app era will come into clearer focus

While we all love our mobile apps, it’s hard to believe that they offer the optimal interaction model for every user, use case, task, and environment. Although there might be “an app for that,” many consumers and organizations are experiencing app fatigue from the sheer volume of apps in the market. To address this, chatbots and the artificial intelligence behind them will offer new ways for mobile interaction with enterprise applications, along with voice, search, and others. Some consumer apps like Fandango are now offering a glimpse into the future, in this case, by allowing users to purchase movie tickets via text or Facebook without ever downloading an app.

Going forward

As we enter 2017, it’s hard to believe that the smartphone made its way into the hands of consumers a mere 10 years ago. However the ripple effect is still making its way through the enterprise. No longer is the vision for enterprise mobility a ‘nice to have’ or fun experiment.” In 2017, mobility will be an integral part of any digital transformation initiative – and ensuring that employees have access to simple mobile apps which enable improved productivity will be key to every business. 

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