Mobile Trends 2016 – What Next for Mobile?

Three Business Blog Team
On: 20 May 2016
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Spotting trends and predicting the future is littered with risks. While research companies such as Gartner, analyse the market and forecast areas of technology growth, another approach is simply listening to customers and partners to understand what mobile and network developments are increasingly driving businesses forward.

As CIO I would be remiss not to share my own views on the trends that are gathering pace. While this list isn’t exhaustive, it’s certainly reflective of the top three trends I see gathering pace in the coming year. And although some, such as Virtual Reality, may take longer to find their commercial application, you can be assured that the potential is there.

1. Internet of Things (IoT)

IoT has moved on. A lot. As an industry it’s taken a big jump from last year. The evidence of its growing importance is reflected by the breadth and depth of conversations I’ve had with customers and partners over the past year. We’ve seen new products developed and brought to market with commercial and consumer applications that weren’t dreamed possible 10 years ago.

With increased product availability and tangible delivery of products, we’re realising the benefits of IoT for the first time. Look at the growth in connected cars. Volvo has announced its first driverless car trial in the UK and Apple, among others, are rumoured to have a car in production. It’s these real applications of IoT that are creating an industry.

As a result of these innovations, we can see more thought being given to the eco-system and an understanding of what it takes to make IoT deliverable. It’s here that real innovation is occurring. With so much change afoot, the challenge for mobile operators is to understand and define their role within IoT.

2. Virtual Reality (VR)

While VR still feels like the stuff of science fiction, the industry is embracing technology’s capabilities and turning its sights on how it can benefit business. Clearly VR still has a long way to go but it’s a technology that is gaining momentum. As with many technologies, VR had its start with the bedroom gamers, who embraced it for play. However, as they move up and into the boardroom, those same schoolboys become developers and real world, commercial business applications follow. They’re on the same trajectory as other consumer technology, such as wearables. While watches and headsets were initially for geeks, wearables and their application in the real world are now our day to day, and VR looks set to follow.

The challenge for operators is the need for real time, latency free bandwidth to deliver against the promise of VR. Networks are moving through a step change currently to support the growth in new applications, and this has been demonstrated by the development of network virtualisation and software defined networks.

3. Demand for Data

According to a recent report by The Commission for Communications Regulation, we’re using more data than ever. In fact, in Ireland specifically, our use of data has skyrocketed up 260% in just two years. This insatiable appetite for data continues to grow year on year, driven in the main by new apps, media streaming, and photo and video sharing.

As users demand more data, the industry responds with improved services across the board. This thirst for high quality data connectivity has in many ways acted as a disruptive force in different industries. Music and video streaming challenged the business models of the movie, TV and music industries. Traditional TV viewership continues to fall while streaming subscriptions are increasing rapidly. As data demand grows, operators are faced with the challenge of increasing investment into networks and network capacity.

So what’s next? It’s possible that we’ll see an ongoing evolution of the mobile digital industry that is most likely to be reflected in a new phase of consolidation – one where media companies creating content merge with mobile companies that deliver that content.

I have really only scratched the surface of all the exciting developments happening right now in the mobile space. Mobile continues to dominate the business agenda and we’ll increasingly see consumer mobile technologies move into the office space but only if the industry is able to continue to deliver investments in networks that keep pace with demand.