Apple and Android have been the consistent focus of enterprise mobility since the fall of BlackBerry, so this might surprise you: if you want to see the future of enterprise mobility, look to the history of enterprise IT: Microsoft. Yes, Microsoft. The Windows 10 keynote took place in the first week of October, amid much speculation whether Microsoft’s keynote could measure up to Apple’s keynote in September. And you could say it went great.
Microsoft’s new device announcements were received with enthusiasm, including a standing ovation for the latest Surface devices (some of which have already sold out online). Considering some of the features and functionality of Microsoft’s latest devices, more fanfare could be in store from the enterprise.
Microsoft is further blurring the line between mobile devices and computers with their new Surface Book, as well as the updated Surface Pro 4. Both of these high performance devices can be used as either a laptop or a tablet, with the Surface Book operating like a laptop that you can detach the monitor from, and take with you. The Surface Book’s high performance specs, light weight, and sleek design look like they’ll more than meet enterprise requirements for powerful processing and easy mobility.
For those who prefer a desktop experience to a tablet or laptop, Microsoft has announced the exciting Display Dock - a piece of hardware a little bigger than a pack of Post-It Notes that turns your Windows Phone into a miniature PC. While this might not be a huge push for Microsoft in the consumer market, since Windows Phones generally lack the sleek designs and popularity of iOS or Android devices, the Display Dock has huge potential for enterprise use. That is, if organizations find the functionality valuable enough to disrupt iPhone’s enterprise mobility lead and get employees to embrace the Lumia (let alone the lesser known Windows Phone models – we’re looking at you, Acer Liquid M220).
Where the Display Dock extends the Windows Phone’s functionality to a larger screen, the new Microsoft Band 2 extends limited functionality to a smart watch. But unlike the Display Dock, or even the first generation Microsoft Band, the Microsoft Band 2 is cross-compatible and plays nicely with Android and iOS, in addition to Windows Phone – something many other popular wearables can’t boast.
With much of its marketing emphasizing health tracking features, Microsoft Band’s target market appears to be the consumer, but that doesn’t mean enterprises should ignore it. First, and most immediately, it’s important to understand what corporate information – if any – can become available on the device, and whether it poses a security risk for potential information theft, viruses or other exploits. In the longer term, perhaps the Microsoft Band’s cross-compatibility could herald bigger things to come. It could be premature to expect Microsoft will launch a Display Dock that’s compatible with Windows Phone, Android and iOS, but the possibility is something to consider when planning future mobility strategy.
These devices have yet to actually hit the shelf – let alone gain mainstream popularity – but they’re a sign of what’s to come. Tablet-laptops, a desktop dock for your smartphone and a wearable that is approaching the versatility of a phone are a reality, and that means The Quiet Revolution we’ve mentioned in a previous post is happening faster than you may have realized.
Can your company keep pace with the swiftly changing face of mobile?