But uptake has slowed.
CIOs must move from mobile-first to mobile-only -- here's how
It's a rare CIO today who doesn't think about the impact of mobility and consumerization of IT. But mobile is more than just the latest step forward in tech innovation, say Mike Brinker and Shehryar Khan, principals with Deloitte Consulting. Mobile is fundamentally reshaping operating models, business models and marketplaces.
It's not sufficient to think "mobile first" anymore, they say. Instead, CIOs who want to lead their enterprises into the post-digital future should begin thinking about "mobile only."
The signs are clear, they say: In 2012, both Apple and Google Play surpassed 25 billion app downloads. Additionally, according to Internet trends research by Mary Meeker, a general partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, 13 percent of all Internet traffic in 2012 originated from mobile devices.
"The explosion of smartphone and tablet adoption in the consumer world cannot be denied," write Brinker and Khan in Deloitte's Tech Trends 2013: Elements of Postdigital report. "And enterprises have taken note. Mobile initiatives have popped up in almost every corner of the business--looking to untether the workforce, engage customers more effectively and reshape business-as-usual. CIOs are scrambling to deal with the outcry: to imagine, build, deploy and promote applications. And all the while, many are singing the gospel of "an app for that," trying to close the gap between end-user expectations and current offerings."
Think Embedded Sensors and Actuators
This led many CIOs to adopt a "mobile first" attitude in 2012, in which their teams were urged to consider a mobile component for each project, solution or investment. And that's where many organizations remain today, they say, trying to veneer existing operations and processes for smartphones and tablets. In the meantime, advances in embedded sensors and actuators are hitting the market, potentially enabling powerful machine-to-machine use cases.
For instance, Oso Technologies recently concluded a successful Kickstarter project to fund production of Plant Link, a sensor that you place next to your plants or in your lawn. Plant Link monitors the amount of water in the soil and sends alerts to you when your plants or lawn need water. Your tomatoes might text or email you to let you know they need a drink. Plant Link can also connect to a smart valve from Oso that can automatically activate your sprinkler system when your plants or lawn need water.
Or consider the Port of Long Beach. Trade valued at more than $140 billion moves through the port annually, making it the second-busiest seaport in the U.S. Its IT team uses seismologic sensors to alert them to earthquakes and potential infrastructure damage, RFID tags to control truck access to its terminals and sewer and storm water control sensors to measure performance and environmental impact and monitor security.
"Sensor data enters directly into our systems and moves all the way up to the analytics for operational dashboards," says Doug Albrecht, director of information management at the Port of Long Beach. "For example, we receive ship movement data that tracks entry to and exit from the harbor, all integrated with our billing system. The Green Flag Program automatically applies incentive discounts to ships that manage their speed nearing the port, smoothing traffic and mitigating environmental impact. A Green Flag dashboard shows monthly and yearly performance of all carriers calling the Port of Long Beach."
Ships that enter the harbor more slowly emit fewer smog-forming emissions and diesel particulates. In addition to making traffic through the port easier to manage, the port says the program prevents more than 1,000 tons of air pollution a year.
Many Enterprises Stuck on Creating Mobile Veneer
While organizations like the Port of Long Beach are advanced in their use of mobile to transform their business processes, Deloitte's Brinker and Khan say that many organizations are still simply working on incorporating smartphones and tablets with existing operations and processes, rather than capitalizing on the potential of mobile to transform operations and processes.
"In the post-PC era, mobile can't be just a hobby," they say. "It's not noteworthy that your enterprise has great mobile apps; it's noteworthy if you don't. As you move past experimentation, make sure you avoid getting stuck on mobile first. Focus instead on the prospect of reinvention, based on the new realities of Mobile Only (and beyond)."
Four Forces Are Defining the Future of Mobile
Four forces, they say, are currently coming together to define the future of mobile:
Convergence. "Mobile will likely become the anchor to our digital identities, providing a centralized, connected, always-with-us hub for services, information, entertainment and convenience across our personal and professional lives," Brinker and Khan say.
Google's plan to bring Chrome packaged apps to Android and iOS is part of its strategy to make the web the primary platform for users. Converting Apple device owners will be a challenge.
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