Enterprise mobility set to come of age

Enterprise mobility technology has historically been a process of trial and error. As new tools find their way into the workplace, their best uses are not always immediately evident. This was what happened when consumer smartphones first started to appear in offices – IT generally either shunned these devices or ignored them, causing significant problems when company data started traveling with greater ease.

But as 2015 begins, many industry experts believe that it will be a great year for enterprise mobility and BYOD programs. Forbidding consumer machines has proven to be easier said than done thanks to the ease associated with their use. Many professionals see IT programs as overly restrictive and do not understand the nature of their actions. Embracing these tools and enabling staffers can help to unlock new levels of productivity.

The benefits of enterprise mobility can only be accessed through the use of custom software solutions. Having a program on-hand that is designed for a specific company rather than for any organization that could end up using it is important, as it can help to appropriately meet the needs of employees and encourage app adoption.

Number of personal devices in the workplace continues to grow
As more people adopt personal smartphones, there will ultimately be an increasing number of them that appear in professional settings. According to ITProPortal contributor Abby Perkins, recent studies show that BYOD will become favored by more than 60 percent of the workforce by 2020.

“BYOD has been steadily growing for the past few years, and it will continue to increase throughout 2015,” Perkins wrote. “And at this point, it has reached a critical mass. As it becomes even more prevalent in 2015, BYOD will significantly alter the way businesses operate. The new year will see BYOD affect everything from insurance and information management to employee retention and privacy.”

This will come from supplying staffers with programs that have been designed with their needs in mind. Custom software development is a valuable part of modern enterprise mobility strategies, and it is likely that more organizations will invest in it over the course of next year.

Redefining mobility management in 2015
Back when businesses were the ones providing their employees with technology, devices were easier to control. Now that people use one machine for personal and professional endeavors, organizations have to re-evaluate how they control sensitive information.

“For those companies that don’t yet have an enterprise mobility strategy in place, it’s not too late,” wrote ABC Technology contributor David Balazsy. “However, a winning strategy bypasses Mobile Device Management (MDM) and skips straight to a containerized approach to make the mobility strategy secure and productive.”

This is accomplished through custom software development. Applications have to be secured from sending privileged data out to other programs. This is best ensured when businesses choose to build their own solutions rather than pick from ones that have been pre-designed for mass consumption.

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What does Microsoft’s HoloLens mean for wearables?

With the recent announcement that Google would be ending its Glass Explorer program and indefinitely delay the official release of the device, one might be quick to think that wearable headsets are “dead.” But fresh news from Microsoft seems to indicate that the idea might still have a bright future – one that’s closer than previously thought.

At the end of this month’s Windows 10 industry event, Microsoft revealed the HoloLens, a wearable device that is designed to fully augment the reality of the user, according to TechRepublic contributor Erin Carson. Images and video of the HoloLens in action show wearers having useful information, television and more projected around them as if they were fixed objects. A traffic report sits on the kitchen counter, for example, while the user sits in the living room playing Minecraft on the coffee table and has Netflix playing on a physically empty wall.

This is a far cry from the world of wearables that Google envisioned. Glass was designed to be worn at all times in order to have instant access to information and apps, pulling things toward the user. HoloLens, on the other hand, is meant to be used like one would operate a laptop – use it when you need it and put it away when you don’t. It takes a great deal of tasks and information and projects them in virtual reality, allowing for the user to interact with applications rather than just be a recipient of data.

There is already a considerable amount of hype surrounding HoloLens, which brings to mind new questions about what we thought we knew about other wearables. Will devices like Apple Watch still carry the importance that they’ve been touted to? The answer is undoubtedly yes, but that does not change the fact that HoloLens is likely to change the trajectory that personal computing has had up until this point.

The only thing that’s certain at this juncture is that businesses need to start taking a look at how wearables – headsets or otherwise – are likely to affect their daily operations. In order to get the most out of any incoming device, it will be essential to invest in custom software solutions.

Personal device, professional applications?
Microsoft’s press material has, according to Carson, depicted the HoloLens in a number of different settings, both at home and on the job. In personal settings, users are able to better use the space around them through the use of augmented reality. In offices, HoloLens can improve the ability to complete tasks like design for engineers in significant ways.

HoloLens is also being considered as a potential new way for colleagues to work together remotely – no matter where in the universe they happen to be located. According to ITProPortal contributor Brian Fagioli, a new technology called OnSight is expected to be leveraged by NASA in order to explore the surface of Mars without having to ever even leave the ground.

“OnSight will use real rover data and extend the Curiosity mission’s existing planning tools by creating a 3-D simulation of the Martian environment where scientists around the world can meet,” NASA said, according to Fagioli. “Program scientists will be able to examine the rover’s worksite from a first-person perspective, plan new activities and preview the results of their work firsthand.”

The evolving definition of wearable technology
Up to this point, the extent of the average person’s experience with wearable tech has likely been limited to fitness trackers and certain early models of smartwatches. Apple Watch has yet to arrive to the masses, and Google Glass is going back to the drawing board for the time being. While the latter of the two gave people an introduction to immersive computing, the idea of wearing it at all times made some people uncomfortable.

The industry applications were clear for augmented reality – construction workers leveraging hands-free interfaces for blueprint data, doctors viewing x-rays over a patient’s body in real time, etc. –  but Glass did not generate the kind of excitement that Google was anticipating. HoloLens seems to have solved a major complaint that many had with Glass by being less intrusive and more accepting of the idea that virtual reality is not an “all the time” kind of thing. This challenges the commonly-held notion that all wearable devices are meant to be around-the-clock personal assistants. Perhaps it is time to start looking at some wearables less as gizmos and valets and more as serious computing machines that can be operated in ways that use the entire body.

This could be the wearable device that the enterprise has truly been waiting for. Smartwatches will absolutely have their place in the workplace as means of streamlining workflows while having ready access to information and communication, but revolutionizing many daily tasks may be the job that HoloLens will ultimately be leveraged to handle.

Innovation may be the result of HoloLens implementation
It’s still incredibly early to predict how successful Microsoft’s latest computing platform will be, but it is already anticipated to be an issue that organizations will have to address in the coming future. HoloLens has obvious application as a part of consumer home theater set-ups – consider for a second the possibilities that come with leveraging the headset alongside the company’s Xbox gaming console – but has potential to really shine in the increasingly connected workplace.

“This melding together that Microsoft makes such a show of continues into the world of work where you can collaborate with colleagues on projects using the 3D holograms and also chat over Skype whilst wandering around,” wrote ITProPortal contributor Jamie Hinks. “In a work context, when it comes to computer aided design the headset looks like it will be a real game changer by allowing you to see full 3D likenesses of what something will look like as a hologram on whatever surface is nearby.”

But new functionality cannot be unlocked without proper investment in custom software development. How exactly HoloLens fits into daily workflows will be dependent on the company that leverages it, and having specific and approved applications helps to get the most out of any device.

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Enterprise mobility requires company engagement

It is getting to the point where enterprise mobility is a given. Professionals and the companies that they work for understand that mobile technology is one of the most powerful assets that a business can possess, and thanks to the consumerization of IT, it is more possible than ever to enjoy the advantages they can provide.

But this doesn’t mean that the quest for mobility isn’t without its fair share of obstacles. Permitting employees to use personal devices in the workplace is only one part of the equation. Without some kind of support or direction from the company itself, mobility initiatives are destined to fail and custom applications are likely to fall by the wayside.

“When deploying enterprise mobile apps, do not overlook the importance of achieving user buy-in,” wrote TechTarget contributor Steve Damadeo. “Mobile device owners downloaded tens of billions of apps last year alone, and only a fraction of them caught on. Why are some apps so successful, whereas so many others are failures?”

The beginning of the answer to this question comes in the form of custom software development. One-size-fits-all programs are rarely able to handle tasks with the kind of focus that is present in apps designed with a particular business in mind. Those organizations that are trying to improve the user experience of their staffers must invest in custom software solutions if they hope to be taken seriously in the modern world. There must be an investment of time and money put into making sure that workers have everything that they need to do their jobs in innovative new ways.

Encouraging adoption of assets is critical
One of the reasons that mobility has to have a cohesive effort behind it lies in the interest of unity. People need to all feel as though they are on the same page with their co-workers, and part of ensuring that comes from providing a single platform on which they are able to work together. Imagine that every staffer in any given office spoke a different language than their peers. It would be incredibly difficult to get anything done without a common thread through which employees can connect.

But this is also dependent on making sure that workers actually adopt the tools that they are provided with. According to Damadeo, user buy-in can be one of the most difficult roadblocks to overcome. Damadeo wrote that there are three things to consider when attempting to maximize the number of employees that get onboard with custom software solutions from the get-go: Avoid re-purposing legacy apps for mobile environments, don’t attempt to mobilize every aspect of the company and make sure that user needs are being met.

“When evaluating third-party apps or developing your own, imagine that your users are consumers, not employees,” Damadeo stated. “Consumers will try something once, and if it doesn’t change their life for the better, they’ll probably never try it again. A successful app will retain a user’s attention throughout every step of the process and inspire them to recommend the app to the rest of the workforce.”

Finding new ways to improve employee experiences
An enterprise app does not have to be something that’s leveraged to complete a mission-critical task. Custom mobile app development can be taken advantage of in a variety of ways. According to Forbes contributor Sarwant Singh, this might come in the form of establishing an employee rideshare application that helps staffers to get to their jobs more easily and affordably. This kind of perk will be especially attractive to millennial professionals, who have seen what these sorts of services have been able to do in the consumer sphere in the form of companies like Uber and Lyft. Providing workers with exclusive software that enabled them to instantly be connected with their co-workers in order to carpool with them can improve office attendance and even expand the geographical range from which a company can draw for potential talent.

This is just one example of how an organization can use mobile software to empower its employees. But while a strong idea is the foundation of these initiatives, it will take work and strategy in order to ensure that programs are leveraged across the company. It is widely being accepted that the ideal starting point for these sorts of initiatives is custom software development – regardless of what experience is being improved upon.

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Mobile customer engagement more critical than ever

Consumer technology has made some incredible strides in the past few years. People are now more connected – and skilled in the operation of mobile devices – than ever before.

“It seems that these days almost the minute you are born you are surrounded by technology like smartphones,” wrote TMCnet contributor Joe Rizzo. “I believe that if you take a count of all the smartphones you will find that it comes close to almost every human being on the planet having one of their own.”

This presents some interesting opportunities for businesses. Customer engagement is one of the most important aspects of an enterprise. As such, the channels that organizations use to create it should be popular. In the present day, no platform fits that bill quite like mobile devices.

People spend an incredible amount of time using their personal devices. They enjoy finding new ways in which they can make their lives easier by using an application. This is something that businesses need to take into consideration. If an enterprise is able to use smartphone software to streamline and improve a user’s experience with the company, it will help to promote strong customer/business relationships. For this to occur, however, it will be essential to invest in custom mobile app development.

Mobile considerations have to be made
At one point, there was a question regarding whether or not to make mobile a priority. As time moves forward, however, it’s being discovered that mobility has to be embraced with open arms. According to TMCnet contributor Tracey Schelmetic, much of this is because of the buying power that millennials are finding themselves in possession of. The younger generation is “mobile first,” and the companies they choose to support have to be, as well.

“Having a mobile-first customer experience strategy is no longer simply ‘nice to have,'” Schelmetic wrote. “In today’s digital marketplace, it should be a central pillar of your business strategy. Most companies, however, simply don’t know where to begin.”

The answer is to start with custom software development. It is being widely accepted that ready-made programs do not consider the intricacies of the individual organizations that use them. Providing customers with apps that are geared toward helping with specific interactions is a powerful way to improve upon essential consumer relationships.

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iPhone users reportedly ‘addicted’ to their devices

iPhone users

There are plenty of people out there that can’t go a minute without their iPhones – even if they aren’t being used. Some people would classify this as an addiction. In fact, a recent study has done just that.

A report titled “The Extended iSelf: The Impact of iPhone Separation on Cognition, Emotion, and Physiology” has found that an incredible number of iPhone users experience symptoms of withdrawal if their devices are not in their possession.

“University of Missouri researchers have found that cell phone separation can have negative physical and mental effects on iPhone users,” wrote Network World contributor Bob Brown of the study. “The effects are so significant that researchers suggest iPhone users keep their device with them when doing tasks such as sitting in meetings or taking tests that require concentration.”

This is something that enterprise decision-makers should keep in mind when addressing mobility in the workplace. Chances are that people are going to bring their smartphones and tablets into the office – not to mention use them – regardless of what policies are put into place to prevent them. Once this is accepted as reality, companies can begin to address how these consumer tools can be effectively leveraged in the workplace. Chances are that there will need to be an investment made in custom software solutions that can help to better enable the mobile professional.

Device addiction prevalent, but not universal
ITProPortal contributor Barclay Ballard reported that “The Extended iSelf” did not see smartphone-related anxiety as an issue for the breadth of iPhone users, but the study still has quite a bit to say about how mobile devices have impacted those who leverage them.

“The results indicate how modern technology has impacted on our attention span and what now constitutes a distraction,” Ballard wrote. Being cut off from our smartphone could potentially have an adverse effect, therefore, on how we perform at work and engage with others.”

While it was once common for workplaces to view smartphones as a distraction, it is now being discovered that permitted and encouraging their use around the enterprise can help to open up new avenues of innovation. This will not be possible to accomplish, however, without custom software development. Having software that is designed specifically for the organization that is using it allows for the program to work in every way that it needs to, whereas blanket solutions can overlook critical discrepancies between companies. For almost this reason alone, businesses have to get serious about custom software.

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Enabling mobility can encourage employees to work

Modern culture is defined by mobility. It seems like everyone is constantly using their personal devices for something – be it personal or professional tasks. In the case of the latter, it could be that an employee is using an app that hasn’t been approved for use within the enterprise. This can be a problem – consumer software rarely has the same kind of development behind it that business-class programs do.

But the issue in itself is not mobility. In fact, mobility needs to be embraced within companies. Because workers are so invested in their smartphones and tablets and are willing to use them to complete tasks, they are likely to increase their productivity if presented with the means to do so in an approved manner.

“All joking aside, it’s obvious that today’s workers have had a massive increase in screen time,” wrote TMCnet contributor Tara Seals. “Often this is tied to the availability of mobile productivity applications and the rise of the cloud – more and more, the smartphone-based use of business unified communications apps, email and VoIP all allow users to get work done cost-effectively while on the go.”

By supplying employees with custom software solutions, businesses can increase productivity and job satisfaction in incredible new ways. Enterprises have to invest in apps that meet the changing needs of both their data and staffers.

Applications usage up in 2014
The coming year is likely to be huge for mobility. A number of new devices are on the horizon, and more people are discovering just what they can accomplish with mobile software. According to a recent study conducted by Flurry, app usage increased by a staggering 76 percent in 2014, and growth trends show no signs of slowing.

“In 2014, Flurry Analytics tracked 2.079 trillion sessions – a mind-boggling number,” Flurry stated in a release. “On December 31 we set another daily session record with 8.5 billion sessions as people celebrated the approaching New Year chatting, sharing, looking for rides, and navigating New Year’s Eve.”

It’s likely that those same people using apps in personal situations are also experienced in using them for work, even for something as innocuous as checking email. Smartphone users are eager to leverage their devices at work if it means meeting goals faster and more efficiently. This kind of attitude needs to be capitalized on in 2015.

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Custom software helps businesses succeed

Enterprise mobility is a series of moving parts. The devices themselves might be a focal point for many people, but it is critical to consider software and systems, as well.

According to Business Spectator contributor James Wooster, one of the biggest hurdles in enterprise mobility initiatives is figuring out how best to marry legacy environments and modern tools.

“On one hand, establishing seamless and secure integration with back-end systems is crucial to leveraging existing investments and avoiding building new IT silos,” Wooster wrote. “On the other hand, due to their complexity, such projects may quickly become big cost drivers. The key to driving cost efficiency is to provide an end-to-end solution for building cross-platform enterprise mobile apps, which are tightly integrated with the existing infrastructure.”

The most effective way to accomplish this is through custom software development. Integrating is difficult enough without having to deal with a program that might not be able to meet every need an organization has. Creating applications that are designed for the company that will be using them is a key component of success.

‘Made for mobile’ a clear winner
It should be noted that just because software is custom, however, doesn’t make it effective for the modern office. Existing solutions may not be “made for mobile,” according to CloudTweaks contributor Andronikos Nedos. This may involve implementing the cloud in order to make sure that apps are as agile and flexible as possible.

But selecting a prepackaged solution is not as convenient as it might sound. It’s important for organizations to invest in custom mobile app development. These kinds of programs are better suited for the companies that are planning to leverage them and lack some of the broad development strokes that other applications might have been built with.

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Applications are key to enterprise mobility

While devices themselves play an important role in enterprise mobility, they are not the focus anymore. It is generally understood that one of two kinds of smartphones will enter the workplace and businesses don’t have to provide them like they used to. Professionals, in turn, need to be supported with effective applications that are designed specifically for the organization in question.

“The last 12 months in enterprise mobility have been fascinating,” wrote AppsTechNews contributor James Bourne. “BYOD has become increasingly entrenched in organizational policy, yet there are still – rightly – security concerns, with the source of blame not pointed so much at malware and hackers, but employees mislaying data through error or ignorance.”

This is prevented by making sure that the right programs are in place for use by staffers. The best solution for the job, however, is going to vary by company. This is why custom software development will be so critical to success in the coming year.

Enterprises trying to increase productivity
According to Computer Weekly contributor Alex Scroxton, recent research shows that the main reason for enterprise mobility software investments is a desire to accomplish more in a shorter amount of time. The Enterprise Mobility Exchange found that 70 percent of business buyers have sought out applications for this very reason.

Modern professionals understand how smartphones can streamline their daily tasks. There is an incredible amount of productivity that can be unlocked through these devices, but it is only possible with software that improves the user experience in some way.

Custom mobile app development has to be capable of producing programs that live up to the expectations of the people that will be using it. Unless enterprise software has business professionals in mind from the get-go, it is not likely to succeed.

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