5 key mobile trends for 2017

By John Acton, Head of Partners and Strategic Alliances, Telefonica UK

I recently joined a number of our vendor partners at a Channel forum in Barcelona. Michael Dell, Chairman and CEO of Dell Technologies was the key note speaker and interestingly the theme of the event was ‘Digital First’.

We know that this digital first future is being driven by the proliferation of mobile devices, which has become so universal that the phrase “mobile-first” may evolve to become “mobile only” in the not-so-distant future.  It may not happen all at once, but 2017 is undoubtedly on course to become the year of mobility.   As such, it’s worth examining the five key mobile trends that I believe will define the year ahead.

  1. More investment in mobility

The results of a recent Harris poll revealed that enterprise mobility represents the top IT investment priority in 2017. The goal is to improve customer outreach, bolster productivity and to sharpen the competitive edge.  We know that the inclusion of mobile devices in the workplace creates a slew of new communication opportunities, enhances employee flexibility and ultimately achieves a more well-rounded business operation; that is, assuming mobile applications are optimized for user experience (UX).

  1. Mobile’s role in the Internet of Things

According to Gartner, there may be as many 21 billion connected devices by 2020. Not all of these devices will necessarily be mobile; however, many of them will be controllable and customizable via applications meant for smartphones and tablets. Mobile application development will therefore be tasked with a new objective in 2017: to design easy-to-use dashboard interfaces for mobile. Fluid mobile UX will have a big bearing on how well the Internet of Things works as it does on anything. The service and experience a customer has is central to all products and services going forward. It’s the differentiation for many competitive markets and it’s a personal choice for many customers. It’s more important than ever as we move towards a customer centric mobile led environment

  1. The bigger the data, the better

Big Data’s relationship with mobile applications and services can be summed up as “the more, the merrier”. Mobile applications backed up by a wealth of data have extraordinary potential to deliver valuable information to end users. These applications are inherently more comprehensive, more accurate in their ability to anticipate the needs of users, and generally more innovative. By the end of 2016, everyone designing for mobile will very likely have at least one foot dipped in the Big Data Ocean. And to my earlier point about customer service and experience, big data and insights is integral to providing that. If you don’t know your customer, you don’t know your business.

  1. Wearable devices: Do you need them?

With the exception of health care – in which wearable technology is already finding a cozy home – the fate of wearable devices in the enterprise is pending at best. Any opportunity to interact with customers and other employees is beneficial, assuming the costs are worth the outcomes.

For the time being, this much is certain: Consumers like wearable devices. Smart watches and fitness trackers in particular have gone mainstream.  As enterprise mobility continues its upswing into 2017, it’s possible that more wearables will be introduced to workplaces under BYOD policies. This may add greater impetus for wearable technology to become a business tool. It wouldn’t be surprising if we see smart watches and smart glasses solidifying a bigger role in the enterprise – at least in some niche verticals but as always it’s very much dependant on the mind-set change of people first

  1. Mobile security is everything

Whether it’s enterprise mobility, the IoT or wearable technology, security will have the final word on all things mobile in 2017. Mobile device management will take a top-down approach toward protecting devices, creating and managing services in secure environments and finally by guarding data.

By now, enterprise IT has no doubt seen the writing on the wall. In 2016, every single enterprise mobile innovation must, and hopefully will, occur in step with cyber security.

This is certainly not a comprehensive list of all the innovations due to arrive in 2017, but a sneak peek into what may be most prominent on the radar next year. Ubiquitous mobile advancements, VR, AR, and virtual intelligence have been changing the landscape and will continue to do so next year as we move into what seems like a science fiction novel at times: a mysterious, exciting adventure.  The one thing we can be sure of is that the future will pivot around mobility and that those strategies which evolve successfully will be the ones that offer an improved customer experience in a more secure and relevant way.

I’d be interested in your views so do contact me.  The good news is that at o2 we have a team of highly qualified specialists focused on putting the customer first who can help support you and your business as it navigates a mobile future.