Finding the right mobile device for your business isn’t easy. From various models and suppliers, to countless configurations and operating systems, the options are nearly endless; yet few can actually meet all of your needs. Even if a device works well for one area of your business, how do you know if it will also successfully support another area?
Field Technologies’ recent special report will assist you in doing just that. They asked their audience the pertinent questions: What technologies are you using? What technologies do you intend to invest in during 2016? And what trends and interests will you follow in the coming year?
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With the iPad Pro – which goes on sale Wednesday – Apple takes another step to try to better capture the enterprise market. But the specs and software included on the tablet raise one question: Who exactly in the workforce is this device for?
The iPad has, of course, had success in the enterprise before this “Pro” stamped effort, as executives have always loved it for light browsing, and some companies that have employees on their feet much of the day, such as airlines and retailers, buy them in bulk for mobile computing.
But tablet sales have slowed in recent times. IDC said in July that the market is down 7 percent year-over-year, with Apple in particular down 17.9 percent worldwide. Starting with its partnership with IBM last year and including a more recent arrangement with Cisco, Apple appears to hope that a focus on the enterprise might turn around its fortunes in the tablet market.
So is this new premium model enough to reinvigorate the company’s presence in the space? For the enterprise, adopting a new device is all about the use cases, and what exactly those are gets a bit confusing with the iPad Pro, according to Rich Mendis, co-founder of app development platform AnyPresence.
For Mendis, the iPad Pro exists in a quasi-enterprise state in that its hardware, specs and price all point toward a machine that can go up against other enterprise-focused tablets, like the Surface Pro, or even some laptops. But he said Apple has hamstrung the device with its mobile operating system, iOS.
“If you look at what applications content creators actually use in the enterprise, none of those applications run on iOS. Whether you’re on the creative arts side and use things like Photoshop or Illustrator. Or, Apple’s own position is that it’s great for video editing, but the reality is professional video editors use things like Avid Media Pro or full blown Adobe Premiere.”
Mendis further said that even regular office workers who access programs like Microsoft Excel can’t use an iOS tablet to access power user features like macro functions. All those apps listed have simplified versions available for iOS, but none with their full version’s capabilities.
That relegates the iPad Pro to a content consumption device, a status it will retain unless Apple brings the fuller OSX to the device or vendors start to create special full versions of iOS apps, the latter of which is uncertain.
“If it looks like a laptop, and smells like a laptop, it is a laptop – in terms of functionality – and therefore it’s targeting serious content creators that require it to run serious apps, which it can’t,” Mendis said.
All that adds up to a confusing device for both experts and the market at large. Even Apple itself has offered mixed messages in the lead up to the device’s release about who exactly it’s targeting.
Apple CEO Tim Cook in an interview with The Telegraph said the peripherals and the digital pencil lead to use cases for creatives. Meanwhile, Eddy Cue, an Apple senior vice president, told CNN Money he thinks of the device as more for consumers of media rather than creators.
Still, one expert, FBR & Co. analyst Daniel Ives, told AppleInsider he sees an upside for the new tablet.
Apple has long relied on introducing new product models to boost revenue. Ives said that he thinks the iPad Pro will sell enough based primarily on it being the first Apple product focused on the workplace to see the iPad category jolt from 10 percent of the company’s total revenue to 15 percent.
The introduction of this new member of the iPad family will certainly attract some new business based on brand alone. For Apple, a “Pro” model aimed at the enterprise may have felt like the most natural evolution of the tablet and it may hope that design novelty – at least to its own product set – will carry the day.
After a few weeks, we’ll be able to see how and how often those pros use the iPad Pro for real work.
By the end of next year, 4.8 billion people globally will use a mobile phone, and smartphone subscribers will represent 46 percent of the global population, according to predictions by Forrester. The growth will be driven primarily by Africa and Asia.
Among the key findings: In 2016, consumers will begin to demand a more streamlined experience on mobile devices, and brands will start to notice. U.S. and European consumers will begin to catch up with their more demanding Asian counterparts when it comes to how they interact with companies on mobile.
“Consumers will continue to spend most of their time in only a few apps (e.g. Facebook, Google Maps, WeChat), but will increasingly turn to aggregation apps and a handful of platforms to get the content and services they need,” Forrester analyst Julie Ask said.
Those platforms will deliver a stream of relevant content and services, so users never have to leave the app. For providers without the scale or stickiness of a social network, or the utility of a Google Maps, expect user interaction to fall off a cliff in 2016.
Forrester also expects more than 25 percent of companies to change how they use mobile when it comes to interacting with customers. Also, they will get better at measuring and tracking the impact of mobile on and offline.
For brick-and-mortar retailers, mobile will influence about $1 trillion in spending in the U.S. this year.
An example done well, according to Forrester, is Facebook’s Atlas partnership that connects mobile ads with in-store point-of-sales systems by tracking consumers across their various devices. Expect smart merchants to increasingly adopt this type of technology, Forrester said.
And don’t discount Google: “Google has some of the best cross-channel tracking capabilities because they own the mobile operating system on most smartphones, plus Maps, Google Now, Search, Gmail, etc., that offer so much information around purchase intent plus location,” Ask said.
Mobile and tablet commerce will hit $142 billion in the U.S. and $92 billion in the European Union, Forrester said, representing 38 percent and 32 percent of online transactions, respectively.
Convenience, trust and new technology will drive adoption of digital wallets like Apple Pay and Android Pay.
Enterprise apps to hit a new high
Next year, more than 60 percent of people who control companies’ decisions and budgets around mobile expect to invest in apps that will boost productivity. Employees at global enterprises who use these solutions for work are 50 percent more likely to report that colleagues are happy, and 40 percent more likely to report customer satisfaction.
Forrester puts brick-and-mortar businesses Walgreens and Target among the smartest retail leaders when it comes to developing employee mobile apps, along with Amazon and eBay.
The travel, financial services and insurance industries are also aggressively adopting mobile to support employees. A few leaders include SPG, Marriott, United, American Airlines, Bank of America, Progressive and State Farm.
Internet of Things and beyond
Digital platforms will leverage data from smartphones and devices connected to the Internet of Things to improve services. Next year, expect Amazon, Apple and Google to invest aggressively in product and service development to capitalize on the trend.
When it comes to delivering services when and where consumers want them, Forrester expects alternative ecosystems, beyond Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS, to emerge. That’s already starting to happen, with relatively new apps such as WeChat in China, and Facebook Messenger in the U.S. accumulating vast audiences and rich data about consumers.
“In 2016, these ecosystems will grow as brands look to serve existing customers in context and developers flock to platforms with large audiences,” Forrester said.
In additional to the usual mobile suspects Apple, Facebook and Google, big players might also include some unexpected players like Microsoft, Amazon, or some companies abroad, according to Ask. Alibaba, Xiaomi, Baidu, and Tencent are all potential players in the war to control new and emerging ecosystems.
Mobile M&A to skyrocket
Internet giants like Facebook and Google will look to expand their mobile audiences via acquisitions in order to reach specific demographic segments, geographies or markets.
Forrester suggests streaming music player Spotify would be an ideal target, and that Yahoo could be of interest to a major digital platform.
Enterprise mobile companies will consolidate, and expect enterprise tech giants like Adobe, Amazon, Cisco, HP, Intel and Salesforce to shop for smaller players like enterprise mobile application companies like AnyPresence, Appcelerator, Kinvey, Kony, Xamarin or Xively.
Big cloud companies like Salesforce and Adobe will look to invest in mobile and automate it. Forrester predicts that in 2016 marketing tech vendors will find themselves in an arms race to provide automated products, data driven insights and deliver engaging in-app experiences.
Mobile marketing start-ups that could be of interest include Kahuna, Localytics, Swrve and Urban Airship.