Mobile computing is growing as millennials increasingly bring their computing expectations into the workplace. This is transforming the way organizations operate, driving more efficiencies into different facets of the business.
In a webinar organized by Mitel, director of cloud product marketing Ryan Smith described a ‘mobile first’ world, in which a new generation of younger workers are glued to their mobile devices, and in which the PC is a mere afterthought.
While the PC isn’t dead yet, it’s definitely sick. IDC reported a 10.4 per cent drop in sales during 2015 — the biggest in the category’s history — unbuoyed by the introduction of Windows 10 and the holiday season. The only bright light is revenue from hybrid devices, which make the PC look more like a tablet.
Today’s millennials are inherently mobile. Almost one in five of those aged 18 to 34 were mobile-only users in their personal lives as of 2014, and that number is unlikely to decrease. With this generation now making its way up the business ladder, those preferences are starting to make themselves felt in the modern enterprise. This development is accompanying several market changes, according to Smith, one of which is IT consumerization.
“IT policy and the standard issue desktop have often lagged behind what we have in our homes. Workers began to demand things that allow us to have those personal home experiences at work,” he said.
“What we’re seeing is that now those PCs have given away to laptops and the laptops have given way to tablets and smartphones. The expectation of how we do our work is driven by how we live our lives.”
Employees aren’t the only people that are working and communicating differently, he added; customers are, too. They want to communicate via more channels than before. Some customer demographics now expect companies to interact with them via social media, SMS and online chat, he said. This creates an even greater need for a mobile-first culture within modern companies.
Collaborative environments and cloud computing
These drivers are combining with cloud computing and a growth in unified communications to create a new kind of working environment, said Smith. “It’s no longer that wall-to-wall cube experience. There are more collaborative environments in which we can sit down and face each other in something that’s not as formal as a conference room or business environment, and these are all … facilitated by mobility.”
Migrating to a cloud-based system to support mobile computing should be done at your own pace, he suggested. Some people will jump straight to a solution with everything including unified communications in the cloud, while others may choose to adopt a hybrid model first.
Those who do develop cloud-based architectures with mobile devices in mind can design endpoint security in from the start, though. “When you’re in a cloud environment the data is stored there, and so you can provide access to it and you can limit the amount of data that actually gets to the machine,” he said.
A mobility solution backed by a third-party cloud partner will bring several benefits, including shorter development times, a move to opex as companies forego hardware investments in favour of regular payments, and geo-redundancy, he concluded.
One other thing to consider when moving to the cloud: there’s an opportunity to fold these mobile devices deeply into business operations if you design them well enough. IT leaders can talk to business managers about department-specific procedures that would benefit from a mobile application, moving companies beyond messaging and email to apps that can really cut their bottom line and boost efficiencies in the business.
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