Enterprises are putting mobility first. MNOs must stay ahead and give them the communications tools they deserve.

Mobile first is becoming the mantra of many, but a deeper mobile experience is fast emerging, as enterprise users shift to mobile applications as their primary touchpoint with services they use, across a wide range of industries. Mobile operators need to lead the way, by offering fully mobile UC services that complement and enhance the app-based experience.

We’re all familiar with how applications have come to dominate our daily lives. At the same time, they have become extensions of familiar enterprise desktop functionality. As a recent article in the ‘Startup’ by Vicki Peng points out, the mobile screen has become an interface through which business users access and manipulate data that they need for their daily tasks. Today, almost all business applications have a ‘companion’ app on a smart device, the authors note, which acts as an extension of the desktop experience.

Indeed, many users, in our increasingly mobile work, default to the apps in preference to the desktop, because it’s more in tune with the realities of their daily lives. They, part of the growing population of mobile workers (1.3 billion and counting, according to the same article), put ‘mobile first’

However, it seems we must be ready for the next phase of development – the rise of ‘deep mobile first’ approaches in which the rich capabilities of smart devices – location, cameras, sensors are more closely integrated with the applications and offer more functionality than can be supported in desktop versions. As a result, the enterprise mobile-first opportunity is only expected to expand, as more workers in more vertical industries capitalise on the devices in their pockets.

This is likely to lead to even greater decoupling of the business population from their desks. In this context, we have to consider what this means for communications – if the opportunity is shifting to the mobile, why is UC still often tethered through desk phones that are increasingly less likely to be used?

Mobile network operators need to be aware of this shift and to take steps to address the resulting growth opportunities. It means delivering a truly mobile first approach, using the advantages afforded by SIM connections to mobile networks. They need to bring mobile UC to the masses, not simply using the mobile as a device to which calls might be forwarded from an enterprise system but rather as the primary interface, alongside other applications.

This means that MNOs must offer the rich UC capabilities that users need, not simply through an application but also with the deep integration to mobile network capabilities that they can achieve – but which other providers lacking the advantage of the SIM cannot.

Ignoring this opportunity is a serious mistake. MNOs are well-placed to deliver a richer communications experience that capitalise on existing strengths but which complements other applications. However, the momentum might shift towards other providers, so there is a risk that the opportunity will pass them by. If the enterprise goes mobile, MNOs must lead the way.

BYOD, Unified Communications, Fixed Mobile Convergence, MNO, MNO differentiation, Mobile First, Mobile Network Operators, Mobility UC

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