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According to research firm IDC, there will be 105.4 million mobile workers (nearly three-quarters of the total workforce) in the U.S. by 2020 – a massive expansion in a relatively short amount of time. Clearly, enterprise mobility projects will be a key priority for many companies.

For businesses deploying new systems or updating legacy solutions, it will be important to stay current on new technology developments. Here are four key enterprise mobility trends to watch for in the coming year:

Consumer Devices in the Enterprise:

Increasingly, companies are testing out consumer mobile phones and tablets in applications that were previously served by rugged mobile devices. That includes the healthcare, field service, and even warehouse space.

While these devices aren’t as durable, they are typically less expensive and have a user interface with which users are already familiar – most of them already use Android or iPhone devices in their personal lives. This can save time and cost when it comes to training and improve user adoption for enterprise mobility deployments.

Still, replacement costs for broken devices can quickly build up. The answer: durable cases and sleds that not only protect the device but also increase its utility in for enterprise mobility systems.

For example, Honeywell’s Captuvo sleds provide enterprise-class barcode scanning and magnetic stripe reading, while also boosting power for the mobile device and protecting it from damage.

Focus on Security:

As more mobile devices are connected to the network (and to corporate data and systems), the need for improved security around enterprise mobility will increase. Sophisticated denial of service and hacking attacks are already leveraging relatively unprotected mobile devices and assets connected to the Internet of Things (IoT). It will be important that any mobile device – even those used in warehouses and other applications that don’t necessarily access sensitive data – utilize passwords and end-to-end encryption and authentication across the network.

While it may not be likely that hackers would try to steal any data from a mobile device in a warehouse, they could hijack those networked devices to launch botnet or other attacks. Companies should also consider deployment models that avoid storing important data on the devices.

Wearables are Coming:

Wearable computers have been “the next big thing” for more than a decade now. While adoption rates are still low, the cost and utility of these devices has vastly improved over the past few years.

There are already warehouse workers using wearable scanners and computers to improve productivity, and the technology is moving into the field service space as well – technicians are using wearable cameras, for example, to collaborate with colleagues remotely.

The use of smart watches, fitness trackers, and smart glasses technology is increasing in the enterprise mobility space. Combined with other solutions (such as augmented reality or heads-up displays) this technology could have a big impact on line-of-business applications in the warehouse and on the factory floor.

The Cloud:

Cloud-based solutions for mobile workers are already well established. Expect to see more companies shift business applications for mobile employees to a hosted or cloud model in order to reduce costs, speed deployments, and help make it easier to receive application updates and patches without lengthy or complex processes that tax IT resources.

Some companies are also using their own private clouds to make it easier to centrally manage and update applications for far-flung mobile employees. Enterprise mobility projects will continue to benefit from this deployment model.

Enterprise mobility projects have increased in importance, and are top of mind in the executive suite. By keeping an eye on these important trends, companies can help ensure they are designing these solutions to meet the needs of mobile workers for years to come.

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