Mobile: Gartner’s Forecast for 2015

Hybrid architecture, choose your own device, and un-hiding the hidden costs and benefits of bring your own device will be the mobile trends in 2015, forecasts Gartner.

The BlackBerry cell phone, once the must-have device for business users, is now an increasingly rare sight. Smartphones from Samsung, Apple, Microsoft, and Google have taken its place. Tablets are also vying for attention, especially Apple’s iPad, which is popular among employees.

Gartner analyst Rob Smith expects the mobile device market to be volatile in 2015, with company strategies keeping pace. There are as many devices as consumer preferences. With users switching between business and personal applications, they have high expectations of user experience. IT managers often have no choice but to meet evolving requirements and to think tactically rather than strategically.

What are the trends for 2015 and why are they significant?

1. Apple devices will remain the most popular but Windows is gaining ground

Though Android is one of the top three mobile operating systems worldwide, Apple’s iOS will continue to dominate the business world. The iPad is the number one device in companies. But Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 are gaining ground – running all applications on one operating system is simpler.

2. From bring your own device (BYOD) to choose your own device (CYOD)

BYOD initiatives have made employees happier and more productive, and brought mobile apps to more people. Yet companies still have security concerns. They are struggling to master more complex support operations and to provide the applications their workers need.

Choose your own device is the answer – employees to choose the device they want from a list their company defines. This ensures that businesses can provide the best support and that devices don’t represent a risk. That way, organizations keep the number of devices manageable and complexity under control.

Gartner does recommend, though, that companies allow their employees to use their devices for non-work purposes as well. If they don’t, they risk a return to BYOD through the back door.

3. Faster updates and software versions

Software updates make it almost impossible for companies to keep up with support tasks. In the past 12 months, Apple released 16 updates to its iOS operating system and there were almost 19,000 updates to the open-source Android software, three times more than two years ago.

“You can’t rely on anything and are forced to keep up with developments while staying as flexible as possible,” says Rob Smith.

4. Mobile content management is on the way

Until now, companies have been using various enterprise mobility management modules. They include mobile device management, used to register devices, a personal information manager, which gives users access to email and text messaging, and identity and access management.

What 90 percent of companies do not have is a single means of accessing all data. This is where content management comes in. It enables users to access the same version of the data from their tablet, smartphone, laptop, and PC, reducing complexity and making their work simpler.

5. Hybrid systems are coming

Mobile devices are difficult to manage because companies try to control processes better left to employees. They should adopt a hands-off approach whenever software providers such as Apple, Google, and others, import new releases and updates via the cloud. They can use an on-premise gateway to allow their users to access local systems.

Gartner believes the hybrid approach is the best and simplest solution for handling mobile systems. It makes the system simpler, and is better than a purely on-premise model because new software versions are often available in the cloud at least four weeks earlier, making cloud users the most innovative.

6. Greater awareness of indirect costs

It is simply not the case that BYOD strategies save companies money. On the contrary: Once you factor in the registration and control mechanisms required, plus the use of containers, costs turn out to be slightly higher than without a BYOD strategy. However, the numbers don’t account for the fact that employees are more satisfied and therefore more motivated – they look forward to going to work more and work better as a result.

Another important factor is that companies who train their employees regularly on the use of mobile devices can cut their costs by up to 90 percent. Take WiFi at Starbucks as an example: We can drop by for a coffee and quickly download an app while we’re there. But many people don’t know how to tell whether the app is safe or malware. In Asia, educating users is practically the only way to tackle this, since, according to Smith, they often don’t have any reservations about assigning themselves root privileges. Rooting enables users to modify applications and settings, rights that otherwise only administrators have. That’s a scenario that fills security- and cost-conscious companies with horror. In 2015, businesses will become more aware of the hidden financial advantages.

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