Until roughly six years ago, mobile computers and telephones were really separate things. "Mobile computing" meant laptops -- maybe with broadband wireless for some lucky executives. "Telephone" meant communication device. "Convergence" meant putting your cellphone into your computer bag to go through airport security.
Obviously since then the mobile phone has evolved into a platform that offers multiple types of collaboration, access to many types of content and a complete spectrum of applications. We also gained the tablet -- a completely new device for consuming and creating content. Now, on any day, very little of what a user does with his or her mobile device has anything to do with it being a telephone.
[ FUTURE TECH:Flexible-display smartphones just a 'novelty' ... for now]
CDW research finds that more than half (54%) of mobile device owners using their devices for work are doing much more than making phone calls and viewing email. They are making presentations, managing business processes, making business purchases, taking orders and payments ... the list goes on and on. Just as the mobile device has revolutionized social group dynamics, it is radically changing how people work with each other.
"Smartphone" is a misnomer, when you think about it. A more accurate (though admittedly less stylish) name would be "office extender" or "mobile work interface." Each day, mobile devices become less about their independent, one-to-one communication role and much more about their connection to enterprise IT networks and the work processes they enable. The "smarts" are not just in the phone. In fact, for your phone to be smart, your IT infrastructure must be genius.
A typical CDW customer currently supports thousands of mobile devices on several mobile platforms. The devices themselves are a fraction of the investment that flows from a single person going mobile. Along with each device comes a cascade of choices and effects of those choices, from carriers and activations to content management and security, to expansion of bandwidth and core infrastructure, to ongoing support for the user and the applications.
As a direct result, our customers no longer view mobility as separate from other IT investments. They process all of their infrastructure and mobility decisions in concert: networking, storage, computing, security -- and all of those connect through to the mobile device. Mobility -- immediate access to networks, data and applications from anywhere and on any device -- is becoming the focal point of information technology.
This shift is accelerating. By mid-2012, Gartner research found that 90% of enterprises had deployed mobile devices and that 86% percent planned to deploy tablets by the end of 2012. A more recent study estimates that mobile devices already generate 15% of global Internet traffic and that tablet shipments alone will exceed PC sales within two to three years.
Gartner sees enterprises looking beyond employer-owned devices, with 62% of respondents to another recent survey reporting they have or are implementing a BYOD program, as well they should. CDW's research found that more than half of BYOD participants (52%) use two or more mobile devices during a typical work day, so workers that once only touched their employer's network through a single desktop now enter through multiple points.
How will your IT organization turn this complexity into opportunity?
The answer is a radical simplification -- a one-touch, 360-degree means of acquiring and managing mobility and plugging it into your existing infrastructure, including:
Mobility is already part of nearly every conversation CDW has with customers, whether they're talking about infrastructure, cloud, collaboration or business applications. Our response is to provide them a single place, online or by phone, where they can acquire, configure, manage, power and report on mobile devices as part of their infrastructure.
Revolutions of any kind are rarely forgiving, and this one is no different. Users are demanding to select and connect devices they choose, forcing change upon the IT department and tearing down the walls that once separated enterprise computing from the rest of the world. But we have the tools to help IT embrace the revolution and convert mobility into strategic advantage.
So let's look beyond smartphones and tablets. Let's move to simple, smart, mobile IT.
CDW is a leading provider of technology solutions for business, government, education and healthcare. Ranked No. 31 on Forbes' list of America's Largest Private Companies and No. 267 on the Fortune 500, CDW was founded in 1984 and employs more than 6,700 coworkers. For the trailing twelve months ended March 31, 2013, the company generated net sales of $10.2 billion. For more information, visit www.CDW.com.
Read more about pc in Network World's PC section.
Join the CIO Australia group on LinkedIn. The group is open to CIOs, IT Directors, COOs, CTOs and senior IT managers.