Enterprise Mobility & the Connected Worker Blog

Enterprise Mobility Predictions for 2016 Part II

by Cameron Roche | 01/13/2016

This is part II of a two part series of posts which provides the Enterprise Mobility and Connected Devices Team’s predictions for 2016.  The following predictions were written by:  David Krebs, Eric Klein, Cameron Roche, and Matthew Hopkins.  To contact the team, please e-mail us at info@vdcresearch.com

Top 5 Growth Industries for Mobility in 2016

Companies in just about every industry have the opportunity to benefit from a mobile strategy that improves productivity and engagement. However, mobile penetration among industries varies significantly due to a number of factors including, regulatory drivers/inhibitors, security barriers, killer applications, competitive pressures, work force demographics, etc. Despite these drivers/inhibitors, VDC expects software and hardware mobile investments to increase in 2016 as companies adjust to a world that continues to move towards mobile computing. Specific impetuses and impediments to mobile investments by sector will undoubtedly dictate the pace of mobile adoption, but all companies will nonetheless feel pressure to expand their mobile initiatives. Whether employed to improve business processes or engage customers, mobility’s ability to provide employees and consumers with critical information just about anywhere will continue to transform the enterprise.

Modernization and mobility are disrupting just about every industry, but VDC believes that these five industries in particular will be among the greatest investors in mobile technology in 2016.

  1. Following several years of heavy ecommerce investments Retailers are again shifting their focus back to in-store solutions and particularly in-store customer engagement. A key challenge for retailers as their digital and physical presences continue to meld is data and record management and creating centralized inventory and customer datasets. Another key theme for retailers will be around them optimizing the omni-channel initiatives especially addressing their increased delivery cost exposure. In addition, a key focus for retailers will be to create a consistent experience for their workers and customers across multiple platforms.
  2. The postal/courier industry, spurred by ecommerce growth, will be expected to deliver a higher volume of packages and meet the growing delivery expectations of customers. To live up to these demands, organizations need robust mobile applications for engagement as well as comprehensive track and trace solutions that provide individuals with near real-time package information. 2016 will see continued modernization of legacy mobility solutions to address customer’s increasingly sophisticated requirements.
  3. The healthcare segment has great potential for mobility because its workforce is inherently mobile. However, a general resistance to change within the industry as well as security and patient privacy concerns have provided some road blocks to greater mobile adoption. Nonetheless, many companies in the space have made significant investments to reach out to their customers and provide them with the tools to manage their accounts.
  4. Hospitality companies have significant customer engagement needs and the age of information has transformed their business model and increased competition. Market disruptors such as Airbnb and travel websites like Orbitz leverage mobile and Internet platforms to compete with more traditional players in the space. This dynamic is pressuring the larger, traditional organizations to more strongly infuse mobility in their go-to-market strategy.
  5. The Transportation industry, like the hospitality sector, has faced its fair share of market disruptors—Uber, Lyft,etc.—that are driving companies in the space towards mobility. In particular, mobile device use among employees in the space for GPS, logistics, and other application-based services has also proved effective in improving productivity. These dynamics should result in increased investments in 2016.

Microsoft Surface:  Some Serious Market Share Ahead

While Microsoft has traditionally ruled the desktop space, challengers like Apple and other devices based on Android platforms have forced Microsoft to renew their efforts in other hardware sectors.  Looking at mobile devices, Microsoft has brought their line of Surface products to the market.  Using the Surface Pro 3 and 4 for their current flagship tablets, Microsoft has been able to successfully redefine a market domain which for years was dominated by high-cost high-performance iPads and lower-cost Android devices. The recently released Surface Book has also seemingly hit a sweet spot boasting top-notch performance at a competitive price. While Tim Cook thinks it’s a “product that tries too hard…to be a tablet and notebook” while succeeding at neither, this also comes from the man who said that the iPad Pro would kill the PC. If that’s true, then he may need to keep his guard up as the Surface Book sold out within the first few days. Couple its popularity with the power of a laptop, the mobility of a tablet, and generally better specs than a MacBook Pro, and Microsoft should see their Surface series of products more than double in market share from 8.9% to nearly 20% by 2020. With this kind of success, Microsoft will likely release a Surface Phone in the future. This Surface Phone would shoulder a heavy burden of possibly being the last true chance for a Windows powered phone to become a significant player in the smartphone space. Otherwise, Microsoft may need to investigate partnering their Windows 10 OS with other smartphone OEMs.

Android Makes a Significant Dent in the Rugged Handheld Market

Over the past decade, Windows CE and Windows Embedded Handheld (WEH) 6.5 have become the OS platforms of choice for the majority of enterprise (rugged) mobile devices contributing to an installed base of well over 15 million devices. The platform has offered its enterprise customers a broad portfolio of devices to select from; as well as strong development tools, a stable developer community and wide support among enterprise mobility-focused ISVs. In addition, with support from Microsoft for 10 years, enterprise customers received the stability critical to their enterprise mobility investments. However, as of January 2015, WEH 6.5 is completely off Microsoft mainstream support with only security patches provided until 2020 when it fully reaches its end of support lifecycle.  Microsoft’s answer to the next generation platform for rugged handheld devices is Windows Embedded Handheld 8.1. The platform has been adopted by a small number of OEMs, however, the devices available supporting this platform today is limited as is their functionality. Moreover, support for WEH 8.1 is expected to expire by 2019. More recently Microsoft has shifted focus towards Windows Mobile 10 (or Windows 10 IoT for Mobile Devices) for this category of devices. This version was beset by many delays with OEMs now estimating product availability by mid 2016. However, Microsoft is expected to more tightly control the specs for devices running Windows 10 eliminating options such as wearable form factors or handheld computers with hard keyboards.

This has opened the door for alternative OS options to fill this void with Android emerging as the primary candidate. Enterprise (rugged) mobile OEMs have been investing in Android solutions over the past several years with shipment volumes beginning to reach critical mass in 2015. We expect this to continue in 2016 with Android supplanting Microsoft as the leading platform for enterprise handheld devices.

View the 2017 Enterprise Mobility Predictions report.