Mobility is about more than wireless connectivity. Mobility combined with cloud computing is changing business – to make it more immediate, more relevant, and more intelligent. But to reap the benefits, companies must rethink computing and business-process strategies and move away from old paradigms. Mobility will change business by:

  • Connecting Phones, Tablets, and the “Internet of Things.” Mobility and the “Internet of Things” require a company to modify its network-connectivity models as well as prepare for a massive increase in real-time information. These devices may support high-bandwidth, latency-sensitive services such as video streaming or more frequent small streams of data such as motion sensors on equipment or RFID tags. A new set of connected devices also require firms to consider different interaction models such as people to people, people to things, and machine to machine (M2M). Firms should look for new or updated M2M solutions from carriers such as AT&T, Verizon and Vodafone that will wirelessly connect millions of diverse devices to a network, enabling two-way communication into back-end systems.
  • Rebuilding Business Processes to Work in a Mobile World. New operating systems and mobile devices will force companies to change how applications and business processes are designed. PC systems were designed with deep menu navigation while mobility-optimized systems are task oriented. Users typically want to access relevant information in one to two clicks on a mobile device, which means IT can’t simply port an application to a device. The screen size, the content, and the process aren’t optimized for the device. In the future, applications will be device-aware, location-aware and network/cloud-aware. Mobile provides real-time access to sensory information such as location, direction, vibration, humidity, and sound. For example, a transportation company can use sensors in trucks to ensure that it delivers fresh produce on time by monitoring temperature and humidity during the delivery process as well as capturing GPS and signature data at the delivery site.
  • Creating portable services. We’re moving from a world of one device per person to multiple devices per person and numerous wireless connections. Mobility will take on a new meaning because not only will devices be portable but so will content and services. For example, RIM’s BlackBerry Bridge app allows you to take documents, web pages, emails, messaging and photos that appear on your BlackBerry smartphone and display them on your BlackBerry PlayBook for optimized viewing and editing. Or, with a tool like the Citrix Receiver application, an entire virtual desktop environment can be accessed on tablet devices. The next wave will include fully portable services that use a combination of cloud storage, SaaS, cloud media and remote desktop access to store, retrieve and consume content on the go. Two-factor authentication services from companies like Symantec and Trend Micro will be used to verify that the person attempting to access the content and services is authorized to do so. Instead of business services being locked to the device or to the business location, employees will be able to authenticate to corporate services on any device (e.g. a desk phone in a client’s office or a screen at the hotel) and at any location (e.g. hotel, home, client’s office). Devices will be intelligent, but decoupling of software and services from the hardware and the location will be possible.
  • Supporting Multiple Personas Per Individual. While services are following the individual, IT still needs a way to separate personal data and applications from corporate data and applications. This means that software service providers will change product offerings to include at least two personas, –corporate and personal. . The division between work and personal content is transparent to users unless they try to perform actions prohibited by company policy. Companies like VMWare offers “container” solutions that isolate personal data on Android devices while Enterproid recently announced a solution that works with iOS and Android devices. Meanwhile RIM offer the BlackBerry Balance to present a unified view of work and personal content on a BlackBerry smartphone while keeping the work content separate and secure. This type of technology will evolve over time but the function will be critical to supporting a Bring your Own Device (BYOD) policy to both protect the individual’s right to privacy and address IT’s need to manage and secure corporate data.

These are just several of the changes that will occur over the next five years.  Companies that understand and prepare for these tectonic shifts will deliver competitive advantage through mobile technology.

Maribel Lopez, Contributor – Forbes – Maribel tracks how mobile changes engagement and business strategies