IT needs to prepare for mobility beyond smartphones

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Employees are moving beyond using just smartphones.

Now, they’re buying products they believe will make them more productive. Invariably, their purchase decisions do not include any consultation with IT. But that doesn’t mean IT should remain oblivious to what products their digitized employees are adopting.

IT needs to watch these four emerging areas of mobile tech that can benefit both the employees and the enterprise:

1. Wearables

The most common wearables today are smartwatches. Most are actually companion devices that not only rely on the user’s smartphone for internet connectivity and processing power, but also add capabilities and convenience through sensors.

Emerging wearables include clothing like shoes that can track movement and weight. Possible uses could include monitoring employees involved in lifting so as to help avoid injury from overexertion.

The addition of heart rate and blood pressure monitoring could prove helpful in improving the overall health of employees. At the same time, limits and restrictions need to be included to avoid privacy concerns.

2. Internet of Things (IoT)

The growing universe of IoT goes far beyond wearables and encompasses a range of items never previously envisioned to have any kind of connectivity, let alone intelligence. Sensor devices can be included in nearly any item and made to collect and report usage, location, and maintenance requirements.

Employees may install devices like desktop printers that include features that report to their manufacturer or order supplies based on need.

While these features may be helpful in increasing productivity, they may interfere with company purchase policies. However, they could also be leveraged by IT to optimize product usage throughout the enterprise.

3. Virtual reality

Virtual reality (VR) headsets are no longer the visionary future. They can be made from cardboard and take advantage of the same smart device employees carry in their pockets.

While the hype and excitement has been around the use of VR for gaming, productivity apps are adapting to take advantage of VR to enhance the working environment.

Adoption of augmented reality (AR), which relies on some of the same technologies and devices, holds real promise in the workplace and can assist users looking for information that is contextual to their work. Mechanics servicing equipment, for example, can leverage AR to see documentation and service instructions while they are working.

4. 3D touch

Touch screens that are sensitive to pressure can enable additional ways to interact with apps. Taken to the next level, a smartphone with a pressure-sensitive screen could be used as a scale for measuring dosages or packing quantities.

Smartphones won’t take the place of dedicated scales, but integrated into a small-scale supply chain operation, they could facilitate inventory control and calculate shipping costs.

IT should collaborate with enterprise staff and discuss the innovative mobile technologies and the uses employees are discovering for them, then look for ways to incorporate new capabilities into enterprise applications.

Scott Koegler Writer Sponsored Post About Scott

Scott Koegler is a technology journalist with a specialization on the intersection of business and technology. All opinions are his own. AT&T has sponsored this blog post.