5 Ways Mobile Technology is Reshaping the World

Posted by | March 8, 2012

Previously, I’ve highlighted the five key areas driving Enterprise 3.0—social media, mobile, technology, the cloud, Internet of Things, and big data—and how they are  fundamentally transforming the enterprise and creating a wide-open field for startups.

Last week I shared those thoughts at the Connolly Bove Mobile Forum in Radnor, Pa. I sat down with several senior executives from venture capital firms and technology companies to discuss the future of mobile technology. Our discussion ranged from content creation to generational differences to the business applications of mobile technology.

Here are five of the trends in the mobile space we discussed:

  1. Mobile today is the Internet of the 1990s. Some of the panelists noted that mobile technology is still in its infancy—roughly equivalent to the dial-up modem stage of the Internet—but it’s already changing the way we create and consume content. Just as companies leapt to create a website in the 90s, only to wonder how it would help them achieve business goals, many companies today are building their own apps and creating new user experiences with their brands. Consumers, too, are changing the way they use mobile technology to watch videos, read news, and share personal info and photos on social platforms, and they’re applying these new methods in the workplace.
  2. We are in the post-PC era. Desktop computers may soon be just as impractical as the room-sized computers of the mid-twentieth century. Many children growing up today may never use a PC for content creation or consumption, opting instead to use their phone or tablet. Senior citizens are also leading the transition, using the simple and friendly tablet interfaces for email, photos, and web browsing. Though many users still create content on PCs and consume content on mobile devices, phones and tablets will soon outnumber PCs by 4 to 1. Additionally, it’s not just about phones and tablets. Some estimates suggest we’ll have one trillion connected things by 2020, including sensors and other smart devices, all communicating. That’s where we’ll see even bigger markets and innovations.
  3. Data generation and consumption surges. One of our panelists noted that there are over 250 data generation points to take into consideration when building a mobile application (proximity, geography, payment form, route, etc.). Mobile data traffic averaged 597 petabytes per month in 2011, eight times the 75 petabytes per month generated by the entire global Internet in 2000. That number is expected to surpass 10 exabytes per month in 2016, more than 17 times the rate in 2011. Faster networks carrying streaming video to increasingly powerful devices are driving this surge.
  4. Privacy concerns heat up. With more data flowing, consumers and businesses are exposing more of their private or proprietary information. California has strengthened privacy protections for smartphone owners. The Obama administration has outlined a consumer privacy bill of rights. A recent uproar over iPhone apps that download a user’s entire address book and Google’s new privacy policy add fuel to the fire. Mobile users will have to strike a compromise between the depth of their user experience and keeping personal data close to the vest.
  5. Traditional leaders are not leading. We asked the audience who had software on their phone from any of the largest enterprise vendors—Oracle, IBM, SAP, Microsoft, CA, Symantec, VMware, etc. Not a single hand went up. The reality is that there are no pervasive mobile productivity applications, mobile databases, mobile security providers, mobile software management tools, or mobile collaboration applications. The mobile enterprise software market is completely up for grabs.

It’s no secret that mobile technology is driving the next great technological evolution. Clearly the opportunity for startups has arrived. Rarely is an industry presented with such a disruptive wide open opportunity. Startups should not think incrementally about this opportunity. The companies that are smart enough to truly understand and embrace this trend by building their applications for mobile devices from the ground up have the opportunity to dislodge legacy vendors and capture huge markets.

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