Cisco UK & Ireland Blog

Five key trends in mobile technology

April 25, 2016

Last year smartphones overtook laptops as the most popular device for getting online, and we can only expect this upward trend to continue across the world in the coming years.

It is one of the most exciting areas for the tech industry, having an enormous impact on everything from commerce to communication and, increasingly, the way we work every day.

I recently attended Dimension Data’s Mobility Reimagined event at the Shard, where I gave a talk on some of the key current and future trends around mobile technology.

In this post I’m going to share those trends with you and explain why businesses need to be aware of them. I’m also going to set you five challenges throughout the article to encourage you to go away and take action.

  1. The rise of the data exclusive

If you’re wondering what I mean by ‘data exclusive’, consider the following statistic:

Just over a quarter (26%) of all smartphone users will not make a single phone call in a given week this year, according to a recent report by Deloitte, opting instead for data-fuelled forms of communication such as texts.

There are a number of factors that could be driving this:

  • Apps deliberately developed to eliminate the need for calls
  • No need for a real-time response
  • The growing affordability of messaging over Wi-Fi

But it’s also an age thing.

Standard voice calling has declined steadily over the past four years, and it probably comes as no surprise that the highest proportion of these data exclusives are 18-24 year olds.

While I’m certainly not in that bracket, I can see it creeping into my own patterns – ordering the Friday-night takeaway without talking to a soul, for example.

Your first challenge: how are you going to reach the growing number of data exclusives in your workforce, and what kind of applications will you need to provide?

  1. Increasing use of ‘touch commerce’

A third of people browse shopping sites or apps via mobile on a weekly basis, according to another recent report by Deloitte, yet only 9% actually make a purchase.

But touch commerce could make authorising transactions as easy as two touches of a screen or the tap of a fingerprint.

By enabling customers to make secure payments on any merchant’s website or app without the need for boring registration or login details, it will reduce the time taken to make the jump from browsing to buying.

In 2016 the number of people who use a third-party touch-based payment system on their mobiles will increase by 150% to reach 50m regular users.

Challenge number two: how should touch commerce be part of your mobile strategy?

  1. The need for rapid experimentation and learning

Anyone who has been involved in the software industry for the last 15 years knows how much the philosophy around software creation has changed.

The old comfortable V-Model – with huge requirements documents, long drawn out acceptance tests, and hoards of QC testers – is now a thing of the past. The new (or not so new) kid on the block is the agile software development team, and the most recent addition to the family is a technique called DevOps.

I won’t go into detail on these two – catch me on Twitter if you want to know more – but in essence it’s a process and way of working that refocuses on creating what’s needed first. Small chunks of functionality can be built, tested automatically and deployed into production, all in a matter of minutes rather than weeks or months.

It’s all about getting functionality to market fast.

What has this to do with mobile? This process has a heightened need for teams to collaborate quickly, to see progress on the fly, to get customer feedback on version A versus Version B in real-time.

It challenges the traditional applications used for project management and creates a need for collaboration spaces where people can discuss, connect, share and recall conversations – anything that accelerates the open flow of information across an organisation to encourage rapid and iterative experimentation and learning.

Challenge number three: What strategies are you putting in place to encourage rapid experimentation in your organisations?

  1. Huge growth in wearable tech

At Cisco we’ve put a lot of time and effort into creating our Technology Radar, a tool that helps us make decisions on where to invest for the future. Wearable technology is one of the key topics appearing on that radar.

Wearable tech will have to be included in the workplace of the future. Figures from a recent IDTechEx report suggest there are around 160 unique devices on the wearables market, which is predicted to grow to $70bn in the next 10 years.

Realising the benefits of tech such as Google glass, virtual reality and augmented reality will happen sooner than many of us realise. There are real use cases to improve employee productivity and customer experience.

There are, however, many technical challenges to overcome: bandwidth requirements, battery life, security, privacy, and integration with enterprise systems must be addressed before the technology becomes truly appealing to the mass market.

Challenge number four: how many of you have a plan to work on a wearable technology strategy for your business in the next 12 months?

  1. The rapid advancement of machine intelligence

Along with the advances in wearable tech we’ve seen dramatic advances in machine intelligence.

None of us can ignore the news around AlphaGO, the first computer to beat a human at the board game Go (something many people thought nigh-on impossible).

So much money has been ploughed into AI recently ($2.3bn in 2014, and 2015 was on track for 50% year-on-year growth), and in time these investments will allow real-time conversational speech recognition, speech translation and large-scale face recognition.

All of this will dramatically change the way people collaborate and interact with each other and machines beyond point, type and touch. People will be able to talk, wink, wave, and all these interactions will begin to feel much more natural.

If you want to learn more about this topic, read my TechTalk blog on AI.

Your final challenge: have fun re-imagining your mobility!

Follow the Cisco Technology Radar if you want to stay tuned in to tech innovation across the world.

Leave a comment