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The Future of Enterprise Mobile Computing

Smartphones ushered in a wave of mobile computing that has swept over every industry and just about every business in the economy. And with smartphone market penetration among individual users in the US reaching 90% it is clearly a platform that will endure for years. But where will this trend take us next? This special report captures the most critical insights on the near future of mobile computing relevant to your strategic planning.

Background Context:

The concept of a “Back Swan” event was articulated by Nassim Nicholas Taleb as an event that is hard to predict based on information before its occurrence, yet high consequence. The PC revolution was one of those he cites in his Black Swan book. The first edition of his book came out in 2007, right as one of the biggest Back Swan events in human history was kicking off. This is the same year that the iPhone was launched, transforming the way humans work and live forever.

We have analyzed every other tech trend going back decades, and believe this one is actually evidence of the most innovative technology in the last 30 years. The world of 30 years ago and today has many similarities. Black then, we already had cars, jet aircraft, cheap and widely available electricity, air conditioning, commoditized health care. Revolutions in enterprise IT made businesses more efficient and consumer facing IT changed how we bought things and entertained ourselves, but those are really minor changes in the big scheme of things. The biggest change in the last 30 years is the ability to have mobile connected computers with us everywhere. This unpredictable Black Swan is a great leap for humanity.

For additional perspective, imagine the world before you had your smartphone. If you wanted to be connected while on the go you could have a conversation with someone via an old fashioned cell phone or a landline somewhere. That was certainly better than nothing, but it was time consuming, requires both parties to be on the call at the same time, and is hard to persist and share the content of the call.

Mobility Today:

Now consider the powerful capabilities of the current smartphone and the network effects arising from the fact that everyone has access to this device. Calls are still an option, but these supercomputers in our pockets have new applications that enable new forms of collaboration and coordination. Business apps can be accessed that enable employees to operate on corporate data from a distance. And communication speed has been enhanced to be nearly instantaneous with anyone anywhere in the globe. Through both corporate social media and public social media we can also capture the gist of what others are thinking and what actions are required to make progress on key issues in ways never before achievable. This smartphone revolution has delivered superpowers to people more powerful than E.S.P.

This trend is causing irreversible change to all cultures and is important to continuously track to understand to the greatest extent possible both the incredible potential of this platform and the new risks in the age of mobile computing.

A snapshot of the trend right now indicates:

  • The trend is providing all humanity with a mobile, connected supercomputer.
  • With 100’s of sensors and millions of applications which can fuel and support use cases we have yet to begin to imagine.
  • User location and its history is becoming the ultimate biometric.
  • Enterprises must serve mobile users and mobile employees, and watch for mobile threats.
  • New architectures like 5G and WiFi 6 will ensure smartphone communications can meet any speed needs.

Open Questions on Mobility That Enterprise Decision-Makers Should Consider

  • How can enterprise data be secured when employees are accessing it via mobile devices
  • What new business models are possible given the ubiguity of smart phones?
  • Will the eyes and ears be the most used senses for mobile devices?
  • How will dictatorships react?
  • What is the impact on privacy?
  • What use cases will dominate?
  • How will enterprises shift?

Cybersecurity and Mobile Computing:

The threat dynamics around mobility are providing adversaries new pathways to get to enterprise data and new ways to exploit personal information. A malicious application on a phone or tablet can capture login information including credentials used during online banking. Enterprise data stored on a mobile device can be at the mercy of both the device owner and any unauthorized user of the device. Configuration and secure operation of the device is key.

Due Diligence Assessments and the trend of Mobility:

The trend of mobility is an increasingly important element of corporate Due Diligence since it is disruptive business models.

  • On the sell side: Firms should ensure their deployment of mobile devices are optimized and are done in a way that is secure and compliant. Doing this before sale can make a big difference in how well a firm will be valued.
  • On the buy side: buyers should pay particular attention to the deployment of mobile devices to ensure a well thought out architecture that mitigates risks. External and independent verification and validation of security policies and practices should include a review of the mobile architecture, as well as the degree that the target is complying with appropriate compliance regimes.

Strategically, the acquisition of firms is also an art requiring assessment of how unique the capability is and how much in demand it will be in the market. We provide due diligence consulting via our consulting arm, OODA LLC.

Additional insights to inform your business strategy in an age of digital transformation can be found in our OODA Network Resources Section

For more on the megatrends of IT see:

Bob Gourley

Bob Gourley

Bob Gourley is the co-founder and Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of OODA LLC, the technology research and advisory firm with a focus on artificial intelligence and cybersecurity which publishes OODALoop.com. Bob is the co-host of the popular podcast The OODAcast. Bob has been an advisor to dozens of successful high tech startups and has conducted enterprise cybersecurity assessments for businesses in multiple sectors of the economy. He was a career Naval Intelligence Officer and is the former CTO of the Defense Intelligence Agency. Find Bob on Defcon.Social