6 mobile trends IT leaders should watch

What mobile issues demand IT leaders’ attention now? Let’s start with measuring mobile app success, bringing in AI, and minding mobile data privacy
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It’s hard to believe that smartphones entered the enterprise just about a decade ago – because it’s now hard to imagine doing business without them. During the last ten years, IT leaders have watched mobile technology and capabilities evolve and become critical tools for enterprise users and customers of all kinds. That mobile innovation will continue in the coming years, creating opportunities and challenges for the technology organization.

We asked mobile industry watchers for the mobile trends smart CIOs are likely to encounter in 2019 and beyond:

1. Measuring app success in new ways

App-based marketing is coming into its own. Looking forward, however, companies will need to redefine the way they measure customer interaction and engagement on their mobile apps, says Peggy Anne Salz, lead analyst and founder of MobileGroove.

Apps came from the gaming industry, where success meant measuring how often a user engaged with them each month. “If you’re talking about an app in the healthcare industry, for example, that model doesn’t apply,” Salz says. “Hopefully you’re not using a healthcare app every single day; you can’t say an app is a failure because people aren’t sick and self-diagnosing every day.” A food delivery company may want to measure weekly activity. “The way companies measure success is going to have to shift.”

[ Why do containers rewrite the rules for enterprise mobile apps? Read our related article, Why mobile and containers are better together. ]

2. Using artificial intelligence to reduce risk and complexity

AI will help companies better secure their mobile devices.

“2019 will be the year of AI in mobile, but it’s just the beginning,” says Jack E. Gold, president and principal analyst at J. Gold Associates. “It will have an effect on enterprises and users in a few different ways.” First, it will help companies better secure their mobile devices. “One of the issues is that there are so many different kinds of devices, so many different connections, so many apps. And if you start thinking about the Enterprise of Things (EoT), it gets even more complicated.”

Both AI companies and traditional device management vendors have been building AI-enabled Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) and Unified Endpoint Management (UEM) offerings. AI can also help companies with overall device management. “Many organizations buy these management suites and use only 10 percent of the capabilities. They don’t have the time to make the rest of it work,” Gold says. “AI coming in is a way to help IT manage devices and relieve IT of some of that burden of IT.”

Finally, AI can help users better navigate their mobile devices. “Look for this kind of assistive intelligence – not just Siri or Alexa, but a concierge that understands me and can help me make the most of the device,” he says.

[ How will AI reshape your team? Read also: AI in 2019: 8 trends to watch. ]

3. Harnessing mobile data responsibly

When it comes to mobile engagement, enterprises will also need to rethink how they engage with customers and what data they collect. “In the past, a lot of engagement was built around what was good for the company,” Salz says. “That’s going to change because they realize that could reflect negatively on the brand if they go too far. Users need to feel that it is appropriate and relevant and useful to them.”

“My phone has 50 sensors and counting, which is one source of data exhaust.”

One way to take greater advantage of mobile interactions without turning customers off is to make better use of what consultant and author Mickey McManus calls “exhaust data.” Some is in sensor networks. “My phone has 50 sensors and counting, which is one source of data exhaust that a company can gather without being disrespectful of my privacy,” says Salz. “It’s a matter of bringing it all together and using it to be genuinely helpful and useful to the customer.”

However, that will require companies to develop a platform for bringing together mobile and other customer data, analyzing it, and creating interactions based on that intelligence – all while minding privacy.

Stephanie Overby is an award-winning reporter and editor with more than twenty years of professional journalism experience. For the last decade, her work has focused on the intersection of business and technology. She lives in Boston, Mass.