Technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace, transforming the way people work.

By Ronald Ravel, director: B2B South Africa at Toshiba South Africa

The ongoing rise of mobile working is one of the most notable results of how this trend is impacting the professional world, with the number of mobile workers predicted to climb from 1,45-billion in 2016 to 1,87-billion by 2022 – accounting for 42,5% of the global workforce.

Given the widespread scale of, and numerous benefits to, mobile working, the majority of organisations already have a mobility strategy in place.

An EY study found that over 50% of companies are tuned into mobile working to the extent that their mobile strategy is implemented every day. Yet the fast-paced nature of technological innovation, coupled with rapid data explosion driven by the Internet of Things (IoT), mean that such strategies constantly need to be reviewed and refreshed to meet the latest demands.


Relentless security threats

The exposure of working remotely, coupled with the value attached to the ever-multiplying swathes of data which are so integral to business operations today, is creating greater opportunities for cyber criminals than ever before. The more data available to mine and the more entry points there are providing access to the network, the bigger the risk.

This makes data security a major priority for IT leaders in 2018 – even more so with GDPR only a matter of months away – and a major part of this is ensuring mobile workers are secure, no matter where they are.

Meanwhile 55% of European organisations plan to implement a data loss prevention initiative this year, giving rise to a number of new solutions including mobile zero clients.

Such tools help to nullify the device-level threat by withdrawing data from it, instead enabling employees to access sensitive information held more securely under central storage and management.

Solutions like these, which can future-proof the IT infrastructure at a time when everything around it is moving at breakneck speed, can prove invaluable to a 2018 mobility strategy.


The edge and data proliferation

While security may be the most pressing IT and mobility-related concern for organisations right now, ensuring efficient and productive working while on the move is also becoming increasingly difficult – with data proliferation once again at the core of this problem.

Cloud solutions to date have served organisations well as a scalable and cost-effective method of managing business-sensitive data but, while the importance of the cloud won’t change, the way in which it is used may well do.

The impending arrival of 5G is set to instigate a further boom in the IoT, meaning this ongoing data rush of unprecedented levels is certain to continue. In order to relieve the strain this data will place on cloud services, a growing number of organisations are integrating an edge-focused element to their mobility infrastructure.

A report from BI Intelligence demonstrates this incline, estimating that 5,6-billion business-owned devices will be utilising edge computing for data collection and processing by 2020. By processing data at the edge of the network, businesses will be able to benefit from a reduced data overload and improved service quality.


Paving the way for wearables

As edge computing develops, so too will the solutions used to collect and manage this data. Global wearable device shipments will rise to 154-million in the enterprise by 2021, according to ABI Research, as various sectors including logistics, manufacturing, warehousing and healthcare, are recognising how they can utilise such technology to enhance mobile productivity, as well as build new capabilities and competencies.

This includes the adoption of long-mooted solutions such as Assisted Reality (AR) smart glasses, which can be used in the field to provide remote expertise to engineers repairing faulty machines, or, in healthcare, to record patient information in real-time during an examination.

While the vast majority of organisations have already embraced mobile working, how this looks from one business to the next varies significantly. What is common throughout the professional world is that an effective and secure mobility strategy is essential to ensuring organisations can compete and be successful in their sector, meeting the expectations of customers, partners and employees.

Yet building, managing and maintaining this strategy is more complex now than ever before, from choosing trusted devices to integrating bespoke security solutions at a network level. In order to achieve this, IT leaders must constantly assess their architecture and integrate the right solutions to ensure security, productivity and mobility in equal measure.