By Sanjay Govil

According to Cisco, 5.5 billion people—about 70% of the world’s population—will have a mobile device by 2020. The number of people with mobile phones will outnumber those with a car, running water, and electrical service. In several parts of the world, this will mean that people will have a connected device ahead of access to basic municipal and transportation services.

These are dramatic projections. What they do not immediately reveal is the equally powerful impact mobile growth will have on how businesses are run.

Already, mobility is altering the definition of what is possible. Connected devices are enabling employees across domains to access work files, documents, and other office resources online from any location at any time. This is leading to several beneficial outcomes. One, it is boosting productivity. With employees gaining time and flexibility in their work schedules, more is getting done. With less time and money spent on travel, employees are working in ways more conducive to their personal commitments. PwC says when employees are given the opportunity to work flexibly, they are nearly 50% more likely to report being highly satisfied with their jobs.

Two, as companies prepare to scale, they do not have to factor in overhead costs that they would have incurred in opening branches in new locations. Research conducted in 2013 by Vodafone UK revealed that British businesses could save up to £34bil by instituting flexible work practices that helps save resources spent on office rentals, furniture and other related investments.

Three, with mobility enabling businesses to have easy access to a global talent pool, organizations can hire the best talent from practically anywhere in the world. This is ensuring a far better fit between skillsets and vacancies. For instance, The Washington Post uses a digital platform called The Talent Network to help its editors and writers find skilled journalists from anywhere in the world. This delivers to the American daily valuable inputs sourced credibly without the additional costs of hiring new staff.

Four, customers are leveraging enhanced mobility and anytime availability that businesses are now equipped to offer by transmitting their requirements digitally. They are expecting to be understood better, quickly and when possible in real time. Salesforce’ recent creation, Einstein, promises to help meet this need. Powered by AI, Einstein enables its customer relationship managers to know in advance how their contacts are ‘feeling’ by classifying their email message or customer review for patterns of ‘Intent’ and ‘Sentiment’ before even opening it.

Together, these changes are having a cascading effect on businesses. For one, they are offering companies across industries a landmark opportunity to revisit their business models and plans. Those whose future lies in roping in a full-fledged mobile strategy would be well advised to start investing in enterprise mobility platform technologies and solutions on priority.

However, there are a couple of factors they must keep in mind. To ensure minimal disruption in everyday business processes, they must ensure that the enterprise mobility solutions they select are iterative. This ensures they fit in easily with an organization’s legacy IT systems while also enlarging their scope and reach.

Another important factor is assessing its ability to co-exist with emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Deep Learning, Natural Language Processing and IoT. This is because each of these technologies has the capacity to dramatically improve and enhance the functionality of enterprise mobility. For instance, when an enterprise mobility platform is empowered with IoT, it can provide employees and customers with up-to-date information that can be vital to expedite decision-making in potentially high-risk scenarios such as construction sites, senior living facilities or international shipping ports.

Given the various advantages a well-thought mobile enterprise strategy delivers, I have no doubt that enterprise mobile apps will emerge to drive the next phase of enterprise mobility. These specialized apps will not only make it possible for a workforce to access contacts, email, and calendars, but also provide businesses with collaborative tools to coordinate business operations while on the go, safely, online. Our collaboration platform, based on Zyter™, is a case in point. Its Intelligent Chat module enables employees, customers and partners to stay in touch with one another via the privacy of ‘one-to-one’ instant chats while providing the security and intimacy of in-person meetings. Powerful 256-bit encryption ensures that these interactions are secure including for the exchange of confidential files, documents, images and videos. Further, the Zyter™ messaging feature provides businesses seamless multi-channel access to customized enterprise messaging services over any device allowing employees to stay connected and access enterprise data from anywhere securely.

In my view, it is just a matter of time before enterprise mobility platforms and applications form the core of businesses. By inter-operating with multiple platforms and applications, they will deliver added value to both employees and customers in ways that will change forever how business is done.

In the short-run, I foresee the imperative to ‘keep up’ with numerous operating systems, device configurations, and technology improvements posing a few challenges. However, I have no doubt that organizations which invest in a robust enterprise mobile strategy, in alignment with their business outlook, can be assured of certain growth.