Accelerating your new normal: 2020’s workplace mobility trends

When 2020 started, few expected it to shape up the way it has. For many organizations, business was strong until the COVID-19 pandemic swept away all expectations, ushering in a time of extraordinary and rapid change. In some ways, the pandemic helped accelerate mobile-centric business trends to enable rapid digital transformation on a scale not previously imaginable. Mobility has played a major role in helping organizations tackle the massive shifts in work and life that have impacted everyone, everywhere these past eight months.

The recently released T-Mobile for Business 2020 Workplace Mobility Report details the key trends and insights that business and IT leaders can leverage to continue their journey to digital transformation, gain an edge over competitors, build differentiation for their customers, and increase efficiency beyond what was previously thought possible.

Trend 1: A mobile-first culture drives business transformation

While mobility has been with us for years, the number of people working from home today means they are more dependent on their mobile devices than ever before. This trend is likely to continue. According to a recent Gallup poll of workers, three-in-five said they would like to continue working remotely even after the pandemic passes.

The choice facing many companies going forward is whether or not to allow employees to use their own devices for work. Called bring-your-own-device, or BYOD, the debate around these policies has taken on new life. While Gartner predicts the market for BYOD solutions is expected to grow at 15% a year through 2025, 75% of IT directors worry about costs and security concerns as millions of new devices flood their networks.

That is why, over the next four years, technology research firm IDC expects companies to prioritize investments in security, collaboration, and basic office productivity tools to support work-from-home employees.

Wearables in the form of smartwatches and fitness devices, what Gartner dubs “bring your own enhancement”, also are getting CIO and CTO attention with 30% of companies exploring the idea of including these devices in their BYOD policies and strategies going forward.

Trend 2: Mobility requires a new approach to security

All of these mobile devices accessing corporate networks increases the exposure to security threats. The numbers don’t lie:

  • Over the last 10 years, 41% of all data breaches have been linked to a lost device such as a laptop, tablet, or smartphone.
  • Over half of all businesses (55%) say mobile devices are the most vulnerable points in their systems.
  • 1 in 36 mobile devices had high-risk apps installed.
  • 91% of cybercrime begins with a user clicking a malicious link in an email—something they’re three times more likely to do on a mobile device.

“[5G] has many enhanced security features over 4G, such as improved integrity protection mechanisms... Authorization and authentication of mobile devices is far stronger when implemented correctly [in 5G] than in 4G, leading to increased device identity protection.”

Paul McKay, Forrester cybersecurity analyst

The challenge for cybersecurity teams is to give employees the freedom to use the tools they want without allowing those same tools to become major security risks. To succeed with this high-wire act, security teams should, at a minimum, field three types of solutions:

  • Mobile device management (MDM) for managing security policies at the device level--this includes remediation of known threats and wiping a device of corporate data and apps.
  • Mobile threat detection (MTD) for identifying cyber threats to mobile devices before they lead to a major network breach.
  • Secure Wi-Fi for encrypting data.

When the use of 5G becomes more widespread, the job of securing devices could become easier. Companies will be able to leverage its eventually incredible speeds and near-zero latency to access cloud and AI-based cyber security solutions that will detect and remedy mobile cyber threats in near-real time.

According to Forrester cybersecurity analyst, Paul McKay, “[5G] has many enhanced security features over 4G, such as improved integrity protection mechanisms... Authorization and authentication of mobile devices is far stronger when implemented correctly [in 5G] than in 4G, leading to increased device identity protection.”

Trend 3: 5G enables new levels of innovation

Even though 5G devices are not yet common, T-Mobile’s 5G network is available nationwide today. Since the next generation of mobile devices will be 5G capable, now is the time for organizations to begin planning how they will leverage the massive increase in capability that 5G represents. T-Mobile customers will have access to average 5G speeds up to eight times faster than current LTE in just a few years and 15 times faster speeds in the next six years.

For example, according to Ericsson, the number of internet of things (IoT) devices already utilizing mobile networks to send data on meters, sensors, trackers, wearables, and many other types of commercial “massive IoT” devices reached nearly 100 million in 2019. IDC estimates that there will be 41.6 billion connected IoT devices generating 79.4 zettabytes (ZB) of data by 2025. The global 5G IoT market is expected to grow to $6.3 billion by 2025, a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 55.4%.

As businesses continue to explore IoT and what it can do for operational efficiency and the creation of net-new business opportunities, the capabilities 5G networks place at their disposal will only accelerate that planning. Some of the technologies and services IoT and 5G will enable include connecting autonomous vehicles as well as “extended reality”—a potent mix of augmented reality, virtual reality, and mixed reality technologies to create immersive digital experiences. Diverse industries from retail to real estate and manufacturing to medicine will all benefit as the IoT and 5G combine to create opportunities for innovation that have yet to be imagined.

How will you capitalize on the future of mobility?

Because mobility is key to how organizations will leverage the technologies of tomorrow today, they need to adopt, like cloud before it, a mobility-first mindset. With an increasingly distributed workforce, organizations must embrace the technologies the future will be built on. Mobile, 5G, and IoT are among the most important of those. But, if they are going to have the impact everyone expects, then air-tight cyber security is the foundation upon which they will be built.

All of this is possible and the time to start is now.

To learn more, get the full 2020 Workplace Mobility Report.

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