There is no shortage of mobile device trends for companies to consider as they look to check off items on their 2018 technology wish lists. In a recent post, we focused on the best practices to keep in mind when planning for mobile technology in 2018 and now we’ll explore four of the mobile device trends to watch this year. Enjoy!

1) Consumer Mobile Devices in the Enterprise

The idea of using consumer devices, such as smartphones or tablets, in the enterprise is not new, but the availability of new peripherals, such as sleds, Bluetooth scanners, and ruggedized cases have made this option more attractive than in the past.

The Airline industry is embracing consumer devices in the workplace, even if that workplace is 40,000 feet in the air. It’s not uncommon for flight attendants to use company-provided consumer devices to maintain travel schedules or process credit cards for in-flight purchases, such as beverages.

Consumer devices have lower purchase prices than commercial technology, but companies must factor downtime, failure rates, and repair costs into the purchase decisions, as consumer devices break more often than their commercial counterparts. Moreover, companies should understand that consumer devices require more frequent operating system updates, and they will need to track these updates carefully to ensure all devices are running on the same system to avoid compatibility issues.

While it is less common than using a company-provided consumer device, some employees are using their personal devices in the workplace. In these cases, the company provides an app that runs on their employees’ own devices. This scenario creates liability, HR, and security risks, so it’s crucial that businesses carefully weigh the benefits and risks before implementing this approach.

OEM’s are keen to this ideal as well, that users want to feel comfortable while using a device at work. More and more devices are being manufactured to provide a user experience to lessen training hours and user errors. In a recent interview with us, Dave Lowe (VP of Sales at Honeywell)  stated “Consumerization has finally reached the industrialized segment of the business world and we’ve noticed the tipping point where the Android operating system has moved from preferred to required.” read more from our discussion with Dave which further highlights OEM’s drive toward consumerization of their mobile devices offered on the enterprise level.

2) Wearable Technology on the Rise

Until recently, only a few OEM’s offered wearable mobile computing devices, but today more OEMs have entered the market to meet the increasing demand for this technology. The growing number of grocery stores offering pick-and-pack services are one reason for the rising popularity of wearable technology. The increase in warehouses and distribution centers, where employees fulfill orders, has also spurred greater interest in these devices.

Wearable technology, which can include scanning, voice recognition, and smart glasses capabilities, can boost productivity, reduce errors, and lower costs across the supply chain. These devices enable workers hands-free mobility as they review online orders, scan product barcodes, and pack shipping crates. The market for wearable technology is modest, but it’s growing, and as more and more companies look to automate and increase efficiencies across the supply chain, expect this upward trend to continue.

3) The Falling Costs of RFID Technology

RFID technology enables the automated scanning of hundreds of RFID tags simultaneously, which has distinct advantages in shipping, warehousing, and manufacturing environments. While the price points for RFID tags and scanners are falling, they are still three-to-ten times more expensive than barcode scanning technology. Because RFID is a very specialized area, the adoption rate is still relatively low, but falling prices might change that.

Macy’s is one retailer that is ramping up its RFID capabilities to ensure it has clothing inventory (including the right sizes and colors) on its shelves and not in the stockroom. Macy’s projected it would have 100 percent of all items in all its stores RFID tagged by the end of this year. While RFID isn’t practical for every company, it will likely generate greater interest as the price continues to fall and the technology improves.

4) Sunsetting of Window’s Mobile Platform

Microsoft announced that the company is no longer focusing on developing features and hardware for its Windows 10 mobile platform, leading many to interpret the platform is winding down. In a recent release, Microsoft says the “will continue to support the platform with bug fixes and security updates, but those using Windows-powered mobile devices aren’t going to see any new apps or innovations.”

This is a significant announcement for any companies using the Windows Mobile OS in their business. Those who are using the Microsoft OS are likely to begin looking at Android and iOS device alternatives to avoid disruptions to their operations. Major OEM’s such as Honeywell, Bluebird, Datalogic, and Zebra are heavily invested in providing Android options for those looking to make the move.

Emerging mobile technologies offer exciting potential for companies that want to increase efficiencies and lower costs, but just because it’s new doesn’t mean it’s a good fit for every organization. Carefully consider the pros and cons before implementing any technology and understand how it will impact your company’s existing process and tools.

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