2012: The Year Mobile Tech Goes Mainstream

Are you still stuck behind a desk at work?

If some predictions are correct, you may not be by this time next year. As technology analysts and media outlets publish their annual lists of trends expected for 2012, many are pointing to an explosion in worker mobility initiatives across a wide variety of industries as one of the top forecasts for enterprise technology.

While mobility has been on the rise for several years, 2012 will be the “Year of Mobile Ascendency,” as mobile computers and smartphones surpass PCs in both spending and shipments for the first time ever, according to industry analyst firm IDC. The firm also predicts that mobile data network spending will exceed fixed data network spending for the first time.

According to a survey of U.S. companies conducted by The Yankee Group, a research and advisory firm, many are prioritizing investments in mobile technology over traditional IT projects. The analysts also note in a report published in partnership with Mobile Enterprise magazine that mobility is becoming more pervasive throughout the entire enterprise. According to the Mobile EnterpriseMobility Outlook 2012,” field workers today represent less than a third of all mobile computer users within U.S. firms – today’s mobile worker is just as likely to be an intra-office mobile worker, telecommuter or frequent business traveler.

Over the past several years, more and more companies in a variety of industries have discovered the advantages mobile computers can offer by improving efficiency, productivity and customer growth. However, several obstacles have limited full-scale mobile technology deployment for many organizations, including security and device management concerns, ruggedness and durability, and technological limitations. As 2012 brings new mobile technology built specifically for enterprise use, such as Panasonic’s Toughpad family of tablets – offering security embedded at the hardware level, advanced device management features, enterprise-focused app offerings and MIL-STD-810G-rated ruggedness and durability – you can expect more enterprises to take another look at mobility initiatives for their employees.

What else is in store for enterprise technology in 2012?

Cloud computing: Hand-in-hand with the continued rise of worker mobility will be the expanded importance of cloud-based computing, which allows users to access services and data stored in “the cloud” over the Internet. With the national expansion of 4G wireless networks and the introduction of more 4G-capable mobile devices like the Toughpad tablets, the productivity and efficiency of today’s mobile worker is only expected to grow. Analysts, including those at IDC, see more enterprises shifting toward long-range implementation and integration strategies for cloud adoption, and taking advantage of cloud-computing services ranging along a spectrum from open public to closed private.

Social: Social technology – social networking, collaboration, publishing and other tools – is expected to continue to grow in prominence for enterprises as more companies discover the new avenues they provide for effective communication and engagement both with customers and internally, analyst firm Gartner predicts. The researchers predict that social technology will be integrated with most business applications by 2016.

Big Data: Today’s increasingly connected world means enterprises have access to extremely large volumes of data – collected from diverse sources including customer sales interactions, social networks and internal sources. Industry analysts expect more companies to tackle the challenge of tapping into these mountains of unstructured data that are full of rich information to support business decisions, but challenging to understand and analyze. IDC expects new technologies and vendors in 2012 that will help enterprises dig in to the growing digital universe – expected to expand to 2.7 zettabytes (ZB) of data by year’s end – as a business intelligence tool.

From increased mobility to better integration of social technology and big data analysis, analysts see enterprise technology continuing to evolve in 2012. What tech trends do you see happening this year?