When asked to rate the importance of technology trends for use by their mobile workforce, buyers rated Big Data (52 per cent) the most important, closely followed by IoT (51 per cent) and sensor technologies (41 per cent), including atmosphere, temperature and biological sensors. The main drivers for the technologies were improved business efficiency and productivity.
Unsurprisingly, the mobile device buyers thought that the IT Department would benefit most within the organisation from every technology trend. However, looking at the second department to benefit most threw up some interesting insights. Respondents believe business management would benefit from Big Data, the IoT and Wearable technology. Sales would benefit from virtual reality developments. Logistics from drone technology and Research and Development would benefit from augmented reality, sensor technology, blockchain and artificial intelligence.
Looking further into the future, over the next three years, buyers could clearly see the impact on their mobile workforces of Big Data to improve service offerings, improve processes and reduce costs. With IoT, they saw the mobile workforce benefits as improving processes, improving service offering and helping to improve the functionality of mobile devices.
Considering how mobile devices will need to change over the next five years to take advantage of these new technologies, buyers prioritised improvements in device and data security (43 per cent), processing power (31 per cent) and communications for faster data transfer (31 per cent).
Mobile device buyers also predicted the increasing importance of foldable tablets over the next five years and the continued rise of rugged devices as critical tools for mobile workforces. However, the largest group of buyers did not expect to change the type of mobile devices they were buying until two-to five years out.
Change already underway
However, the adoption of smart technologies for mobile workforces already looks well underway. Many buyers said that the implementation of smart watches, wrist bands and drone use had already been completed or was imminently planned for mobile workforces.
Cost (27 per cent) and reliability (19 per cent) were the biggest issues preventing organisations from adopting new technologies faster.
“Although a wide range of exciting future technologies are being watched closely, there is clear evidence from this research that businesses are adopting and looking to capitalise on the benefits of Big Data, IoT and Sensor technology for their mobile workforces,” said Jan Kaempfer, general manager for Marketing at Panasonic Computer Product Solutions. “As these technologies are deployed, we move ever closer to the age of Edge Computing, where processing power is required at the edge of the network, much closer to where data is collected. This means the role of the mobile workforce computing device becomes even more critical in the gathering, analysis and communication of data, and the provision of services and in improving productivity.
“These research findings underline Panasonic’s philosophy to continue to develop a range of rugged mobile computing devices that are increasingly more powerful, more connected and with a widening range of integrated applications, such as sensors, and increasing management and security functionality.”
A copy of the whitepaper, ‘Future Technologies and their Impact on Mobile Workforces and their Devices’, can be downloaded here.
The independent research, carried out by Opinion Matters and commissioned by Panasonic TOUGHBOOK, questioned 250 mobile technology buyers for businesses in the UK.