What is Mobile Computing? – In the 1990’s, mobile phones were basically meant to make voice calls and short messaging services. Those of us who were early adopters of this technology having only used the fixed line or fax to communicate found it but hard on the cost side having to pay for both incoming and outgoing calls.
For another decade or more, mobile phones were basically meant to communicate on the move and also provided multi-media messaging (MMS). Thereafter, many cell phones did have added features of consumer devices such as camera, torch light, clock and alarms, calendars making it a multi-purpose device for everyday use. However, iIt was the advent of smart phones that created a revolution in the use of mobile phone for a variety of applications involving data, software, gaming and business applications.
For every computer app, a mobile app
The rapid penetration of the mobile phones among all classes of people have set a new trend for businesses. For every computing application, in parallel a mobile app is also developed. A website for desktops invariably creates the need for a mobile site. Now that many people access the net through mobile, websites have gone into vertical scrolling mode instead of the horizontal mode.
The mobile applications are mostly watered down versions of web applications and computer applications. However, a reversal is in the offing with smart phones likely to deliver more versatile and full featured suite of internet applications, according to Benedict Evans, renowned market analyst speaking at a web summit held in November.
Earlier it was said that software was eating the world (Marc Andreessen two years back) and now Evans believes mobile is going to eat the world.
Just as there is an operating system (OS)for computers such as Windows, Unix Linux, smart phones also are run by an operating system. Popular ones are Android, iOS, Blackberry, Windows,RIM among others. Majority stake in the market is held by Android followed by iOS. The operating system enables menu driven applications and programs that are user friendly.
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The rapid growth of ecommerce, online bookings globalization of business and financial services necessitated the need for users to login into a network anytime and get access to data, update information or manage systems remotely. This in turn has turned favourable for the growth of mobile computing. On the hardware side, the revolution unleashed by the abundance of Tablets, smart phones, pocket digital assistants (PDA) in the market has helped in creating huge demand for mobile apps and mobile computing solutions.
The demographic shift in population with rising proportion of older age groups has raised a new requirement that they be happy and connected. In fact, the generation gap between the young and the old has been bridged with the advent of user-friendly smart phones and mobile apps, according to an IBM analyst writing for Forbes.
The rapid evolution of mobile communications from 2G, 3G and now 4G has ensured that data, applications and information exchange can be had for a variety of industries and applications. For example, the heart of computing system that enables transactions in a company is the enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. The development of mobility has ensured that salesmen and marketing team on the move can update data and relevant information in real time to their headquarters and branch offices. This updation of data would enable the managerial hierarchy to better co-ordinate or change strategies for the market based on the goals and targets fixed by the company.
Mobility has ensured that more data is captured from the market place either through social media, internet, online trading activities, bookings through mobile apps which in turn helps the industry to analyse the transactional data to aid marketing efforts.
Mobile Technology tops Gartner trends
Mobile Technology is at the top of the strategic technological trends that will have impact on IT industry in 2016 as outlined by Gartner.
According to David Cearley, Vice President and Gartner fellow, designing mobile apps continues to be in the core strategy of businesses. Along with mobile devices several other devices of common use that can store and transmit data is also becoming part of the ‘device mesh’, Gartner report said. Wearable consumer and electronic devices, automotive devices and environmental devices, sensors in Internet of Things (IoT) are all adding to the connectivity network.
The mobile Computing Structure
Just as in any connected network, the mobile computing also involves three distinct and inter-connected components-
1) Mobile hardware, 2) communication devices including transmission towers, 3) mobile software and apps.
The mobile hardware includes smart phones, PDAs, tablets, tablet PC’s among others. Each passing year is witnessing the launch of several new models with more and more advanced features. The storage, processing capacity and screen resolutions have swiftly gone up making mobile devices at the heart of data capture, storage, processing and communication.
Mobile communication includes vast array of protocols, transmission towers, bandwidth, satellite systems and networks. Data systems are defined so that there is no collision with existing systems sending or receiving similar kinds of data.
The overlay infrastructure is radio-wave oriented as the media is unguided or unbounded. It means that the signals are carried over the air to intended devices that receive and send similar kind of signals.
In mobile computing, transmission occurs not through physical connectivity but mostly through satellite or wireless communication enabled networks.
Advantages of Mobile Computing
No doubt, mobile technology has proved to be a boon for mankind just as the personal computer revolution helped us in the 1980’s to organize, store and process data in a user-friendly manner with the menu driven Windows systems.
Here are some of the advantages of mobile computing:
- No location constraint: Mobile computing frees the user from being tied to a location and increased bandwidth and speed of transmission makes it possible to work on the move.
- It saves time and enhances productivity with a better return on investment (RoI)
- It provides entertainment, news and information on the move with streaming data, video and audio
- Streamlining of business processes: Mobility has enabled streamlining of business processes, cumbersome emails, paper processing, delays in communication and transmission.
- Newer job opportunities for IT professionals have emerged and IT businesses now have an added service in their portfolio which only will keep growing as per indicative mobile computing trends.
Career Opportunities in Mobile Computing
The growth of mobile computing has spawned several new career options from hardware servicing to software, operating system, mobile computing applications (apps) development. The main beneficiaries in this regard are engineering graduates, post graduates, diploma holders, computer applications professionals who have done Bachelor of Computer Applications (BCA) or Master of Computer Applications (MCA).
Some of the hot job openings are:
Game developers, mobile hardware technicians, IPAD developer, mobile apps testing specialist, developer for Android, Blackberry, iPhone, Windows, tower installation and maintenance for network, mobile computing security experts, equipment mechanics, mobile architects, customer care, marketing support, technical support, Key Performance Indicator (KPI) engineer.
Apart from job opportunities for engineers and IT professionals, huge opportunities are awaiting service providers in mobile computing. The huge market for mobile computing is indeed USA. Statista estimates that over 180 million Americans will own a smart phone, and that number will grow by 10% to almost 200 mn in 2016. Every American between the age of 16 and 80 are prospects or customers for industry, according to Jim Blasingame, contributor to Forbes magazine. He is the author of the award winning book, ‘The Age of the Customer: Prepare for the moment of relevance’.
According to him, if businesses are not mobile ready they are going to become extinct like the dinosaurs in no time.
The future of Mobile Computing
According to researchandmarkets.com, the global enterprise mobility solutions market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 35.43% in the next three years. The mobile computing applications of enterprise mobility solutions are in managing mobile computing devices, wireless networks and related services. This is a cloud based technology enabling sustained connectivity. The report said that revenue generated through software licenses ad subscription fees have been used as a yardstick for the future estimates of growth.
According to a Zion Research report, the global enterprise mobility market is expected to rise from US $85 bn in 2014 to US $ 500 bn in 2020, growing at a compounded annual growth rate of 24% between 2015 and 2020. The report covers developments in smart phones, tablets and laptops.
As already outlined, mobility is increasingly been utilized by corporates and retail users for making payments and other transactions.
According to a recent joint survey by Kaspersky Lab and B2B International, 30% of companies use mobile computing devices to access corporate bank accounts and to make financial transactions. Even small and medium enterprises are increasingly using mobile apps for financial transactions.
IT majors such as Microsoft has promised to scale up technologies and invest in security on the net, however, amidst these security concerns, mobile computing seems to be relatively free from security threats if industry view from United Kingdom is to be believed.
According to a VMware research, 53% of respondents in the UK and EMEA claimed that increased security was the critical driver for businesses to adapt to mobile model while 38% believed mobile force effectiveness was a trigger and 35% citied improved end user experience.
In mobility announcements that made news last month, Microsoft’s new security capabilities in its Enterprise Mobile Suite made news. The new system has introduced telemetry data as part of its Mobility Suite. It enables businesses to see details of the device from which a document was accessed. It is capable of showing where, when, who and on what device a document was accessed.
The telemetry data in the Mobility Suite enabling this facility and Azure Active Directory delivers data to customers and reports users’ access to and activities with corporate data.
According to experts, with a little bit of caution and protective measures, mobile security threat can be warded off. Anti-virus software is now widely available and useful tools are provided by Symantec, McAfee and Lookout. It pays to invest in anti-malware and anti-virus. It is also vital that malware library is up to date.
Enterprises can use mobile device management and mobile application management to prevent intrusions, data theft which can be used to manage and enforce security containers. x
Many organisations are now incorporating dual-persona approach to mobile device management software. Here the enterprise data and personal data would be compartmentalized separately with enterprise apps and data not accessible to end users for making changes. The virtual box havng corporate apps will be secured and end users cannot put unmanaged applications in this box.
Personal content in the device will be stored separately in the file system and not in the box. Precautions are taken so that corporate data in the box can’t be shared with applications outside the box. However, it is possible to share personal and corporate data between works and personal apps as MAM and MDM tools are there to specify which can be shared and which cannot be.
Wearable mobile devices & 5 G
After 2G, 3G and 4G, there is already talk of 5G networks that would multiply transmission speed by 100 times. Also the current issues with respect to battery charge retention may be a thing of the past with bigger power banks and long-lasting batteries.
Wearable mobile technology has arrived and could come up with several new applications related to health, fitness, disease, marketing.
Motorola Mobility has a patent for a mobile system that is capable of identifying whether the user is lying. It is implanted under the neck and capable of capturing human voice. Google has reportedly developed several biometric applications for mobile which are capable of controlling sugar levels which is a boon for diabetes affected patients.
The future is indeed promising for mobility and the more faster businesses catch on the bandwagon more returns they could reap.
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