In 2012, the mobile services industry continues to evolve at a lightning-fast pace as consumers become more dependent on mobile phones. The proliferation of the smartphone and the birth of tablets have spawned a growing legion of data-hungry consumers that are looking to use their mobile more efficiently and securely.
Forty-three percent of consumers replaced their camera with a mobile phone in 2011, according to a recent report by Oracle. The survey that covered more than 3,000 mobile phone consumers worldwide also found that 34% have replaced with a mobile phone their MP3 player and 24% their GPS device.
These revelations appear to prove findings in 2010 when more than half of consumers thought their mobile phone would replace their camera, MP3 player or GPS device within five years.
As new players continue to enter this increasingly competitive marketplace, mobile users have high expectations – they want the coolest device, superior service and to be able to use their devices both at home and at work seamlessly. Oracle believes these trends will be key drivers in affecting telecom providers in the coming year.
Consumer demand for applications is growing significantly. In Asia-Pacific, 53% of respondents have downloaded a free app and 22% have paid for an app on their mobile device. In addition, demand for apps is spreading from phones to other mobile devices, particularly tablets. Half of respondents in the region already own a tablet device or plan to purchase one in the next 12 months.
Apps are also gaining importance in the enterprise, especially on tablets. According to a separate report from independent research firm Heavy Reading Mobile Networks Insider, 25% of enterprises now have a mobile business intelligence (BI) application or dashboard in place and another 33% percent of enterprises are planning to implement some type of mobile BI by the end of 2012.
These mobile BI apps are highly sophisticated and give the full spectrum of BI functionality on the tablet including alerts, reporting and scorecards. This connects managers to a massive amount of information that helps them make critical decisions quickly. In fact, managers that have access to mobile BI will take one-sixth of the time to make decisions than those who do not.
With substantial benefits to organizations such as operational efficiency, real-time analytics and customer responsiveness, mobile apps will only continue to develop further and improve in 2012.
But while consumers are becoming more comfortable with location-based services and online banking, they have security concerns. Another Oracle research reveals that globally 68% of respondents do not believe, or are unsure, whether information stored or transmitted from their mobile device is secure.
The problem is compounded when mobile devices are used for both enterprise and personal use. A tablet with corporate data stored on it, for instance, could be accessible to a user's family members for recreational purposes. This can inadvertently lead to sensitive data being compromised.
In Singapore, for example, where 90% of the population already own a smartphone according to TomiAhonen Consulting Analysis December 2011, and mobile operators offering subsidized or even free smartphones and tablets with their phone plans, consumers often update their devices at a speed that even the larger enterprises can’t compete with.
There are also generational factors at play. Gen Y employees are bringing their own devices to work and expect to access corporate applications quickly and easily from their iPhone and iPad. IT departments increasingly face pressure to harness the cost and productivity benefits of personal devices for enterprise use while safeguarding corporate data and intellectual property. When building mobile extensions to existing enterprise applications, a key part of the design has to address data management across the application.
With this increase in employee’s access to mobility, another challenge that business are facing will be creating a user-friendly interface and experience across multiple device platforms which will be key to user acceptance and adoption. This is an important factor if you want to encourage users to work within the boundaries of the corporate firewall on their own device.
Addressing the inherent security risks of mobility, Oracle also recommends protecting critical data assets with Identity Management solutions to help overcome the challenge of securing multiple types of devices and applications on the corporate intranet and beyond.
As 2012 begins and more devices hook into the enterprise network, Oracle believes that providers must prepare for growing complexity and competition. Enterprises will also have to take steps to ensure that networks and back-end systems are scalable, securely open to developers, and integrated across services.
Fred Rees is global VP at Oracle’s communications global business unit.