Mobile technology has become increasingly important as more companies rely on the growing mobile workforce. Many of today’s employees work while they travel; others work from home or remote offices. As a result, businesses are turning to updated tools such as SMS messaging; audio, online, and video conferencing platforms; webinars; and socially enabled business processes to maintain an efficient workflow. With rapid-fire advancements in mobile technology comes a need to keep up with the latest trends. Businesses are grappling with increased demands for new requirements, such as the latest and greatest mobile applications, better data security, and “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) policies and practices. To help you keep up with the latest trends and identify changes your company might want to implement, we’ve compiled a list of some of 2014’s most important advancements in mobile technology.
Wearable Technology is Taking Off
“Fast forward to 2014 and technology has upped its game to new heights. Technology is now an extension of our bodies and these new technologies have a significant impact on our lives.” Bernadette Coleman, CEO & Executive Director of Advice Interactive Group, an award winning digital agency, wrote those words in this article before we even knew just how prevalent wearable technology would become. Wearable technology is becoming more standard with such developments as the Apple Watch and other devices that provide immediate access to a variety of technologies 24 hours a day. Tech users are checking texts and emails from their watches and using them to track heart rates and fitness workouts. We predict that this trend will become even more prevalent in 2015, Fortune notes that wearable technology is even getting a fashion makeover as fashion houses such as Rebecca Minkoff and Tory Burch team up with tech companies to make the devices more aesthetically appealing.
More Mobile Devices are Being Designed as the “Main Screen” (Hello, phablet)
Remember when people said, “I don’t want to read that [article, newspaper, book, email] on a small screen?” Those days are gone for many users of electronic devices thanks to recent advances that improve the reading experience on a variety of mobile devices. Most important, tech companies are adjusting screen size to accommodate wider use. This has prompted users ranging from employees to students to people who just communicate with friends and family to consider their mobile devices as their main technology screens (it’s no coincidence that iPhone 6 offers a larger-size option in the iPhone 6 Plus). Hybrid devices that bridge the divide between phones and tablets, known as “phablets,” are becoming more popular. According to TechTarget, “a phablet is a computing device with a screen size between four-and-a-half and seven inches, measured diagonally. As the name implies, the device is essentially a tablet that also functions as a phone.” The business implications are tremendous; employees now have access to virtually any type of communication whenever they can carry and use their mobile device. They can read a business article, respond to emails, send texts, and dial into an online conference meeting—all with the same portable device.
User Data Security Enhancements
Sony Pictures recently experienced a major security breach when the company’s private emails, employee social security numbers, and other critical data were publicly exposed by hackers. And remember the public outcry that resulted from Facebook’s admission that it had manipulated users’ news feeds (without their knowledge) to investigate “emotional contagion?” Data security has become a bigger issue than ever as more businesses rely on electronic data storage and communication, and as more employees who have grown up communicating through mobile devices forget that their online communication is never completely private. The best mobile app developers take security very seriously as they design and implement their technology. MobileDay, for example, never removes user data from individual devices.
New Technologies Have Improved Mobile Business/Customer Connections
Connecting with customers via mobile devices is no longer a “maybe” for many serious marketers. According to Nielsen’s Q1 2014 Cross-Platform Report, people spend more than 38 hours per month on their phones, yet mobile comprises only about 4 percent of total ad spending. Many companies still choose more traditional advertising spaces even as their customers spend more time on their phones. One panel of experts, however, recently “concurred that mobile is here to stay, is changing how we need to think about engaging with consumers, and needs to be a defined part of every brand’s advertising strategy.” To help companies move in this direction, creators of online and mobile advertising and measurement tools have developed new products and technologies. QR codes, for example, are codes that can be scanned by device users who want to “like” a Facebook page, receive a coupon, or sign up for an event. Companies like Leadbolt, meanwhile, provide solutions for companies seeking to monetize their apps. Leadbolt enables companies to choose their own placements, select from multiple proven ad formats, or build a custom native ad experience to match their app’s unique style.
Many employees access company information on their own personal mobile devices. As a result, many businesses are seeking better ways to ensure data security, and new technologies have been introduced to help. As Drew Hendricks writes in Forbes, “Businesses are increasingly putting remote wipe and encryption software on personal devices, as well as mobile virtual workspaces that separate work data in a separate, encrypted area on a user’s personal device. If there’s even a remote possibility one of your workers could access work data on a personal device, you should have a written, signed policy in place for each of your workers.”
The Cloud is Making it Easier to Collaborate on Files, Even from Mobile Devices
Solutions such as Microsoft’s Office 365 are being designed to enable businesses, employees, students, and anyone who works online to store data in the cloud, avoiding the need to email files back and forth between team members or to work off of multiple versions of the same document/file. This technology saves time as more users conduct work on the go, right from their (often larger) smartphones or phablets. Team members no longer have to wait until they’re back at the office or sitting in front of a desktop to add their comments to a Word (or other) file.
More Businesses are Incorporating Socially Enabled Business Processes
In its listing of 2014 Technology Trends for Business, PricewaterhouseCoopers listed Socially Enabled Business Processes second only to Business analytics. Social Business Consultant Sean O’Driscoll notes that many businesses are integrating social and community communications tools into their business processes to enable a new generation of connected (and mobile) employees. O’Driscoll predicts that businesses that can successful harness these technologies will “reap valuable benefits from their relatively modest investments.”
Mobile technology is advancing at a rapid pace, and it’s important for businesses to leverage the latest trends for the maximum benefit. With so many new tools available it makes sense to incorporate the technologies that best enable the growing mobile workforce.