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5 mobile workforce predictions for 2011. iPass Mobile peers into their crystal ball.

Mobility is one of the defining trends of today’s workforce.  More and more people are working on the go, outside of “normal” office hours, and from an increasing array of different kinds of mobile devices.

Today iPass Mobile has released their report titled The iPass Mobile Workforce Report, Year End Review and 2011 Predictions.  It outlines 5 trends from the past year, and makes 5 predictions for next year.

2010 Trends 

  1. Security, Cost, and Productivity Imbalance
  2. The Hyper-Connected Workforce
  3. The Post-PC Era is here
  4. Mobility is multi-generational and global
  5. Multiple devices rule the day
2011 Predictions 

  1. The rise of the mobilocracy
  2. The adoption of “bring your own mobile”
  3. Security will get a makeover
  4. The trivialization of place
  5. Redefinition of social boundaries

I had a chance to talk with the folks at iPass yesterday.  Some of the data is fascinating, especially if you’re in the mobile applications business, or if you provide mobile devices to employees.

In the same way that the consumerization of IT occurred, employees are driving the consumerization of mobility in enterprise.  That’s introducing headaches for IT.  91% of younger workers have smartphones, even though just 58% of them use them for work.  However, only 35% are issued by the workplace.  Increasingly, employees are simply bringing their devices to work and demanding the IT department hook them up.  Employers are agreeing because the statistic show that smartphone users work an average of 240 hours per year more than the average worker.  To put that into persective, think about the impact of an extra 6 weeks of selling time for a sales person.

Most people now use multiple devices – smartphones, tables, and laptops.  iPass characterizes this as the Post-PC era, but in my opinion that’s an inaccurate description.  The data suggests that people are augmenting PCs with these devices, not necessarily replacing them.  However, according to iPass, we’ve reached a time when the laptop stays plugged in most of the time, and the mobile device is a tablet or smartphone.  That’s certainly the way I work myself.

For the last five years, the story has been about youth – millennial adoption of text messaging, Facebook, Twitter, and so on.  In iPass’ survey, the average Facebook user is age 38, Twitter user age 39, and median age of a mobile worker is 46 years. We’re now in the mainstream of adoption of mobile devices and mobile web technologies.  The idea of the youth market as a trendsetter for mobile is now old news.

Amongst the predictions, the standout for me is the trivialization of place. This is the idea of the mobile and distributed workforce.  iPass says:

…you have to wonder how effective people are in the office. The office is a distracting place between interruptions and meetings – tons, and tons of meetings. However, working remotely gives employees a change of venue, often removes distractions, and can help them be more productive.

Work is something people do, not a place that they go. We believe that where people work will matter less and less.  For numerous reasons from improved productivity to decreased carbon footprint and reduced office expenditure –  a workforce that works anywhere, anytime is a boon to business.

The trivialization of place is a reality we live daily at iotum, and which our product Calliflower is designed to facilitate, and the core idea around which our company is built.

I had a chuckle, however, when we talked about their final prediction, titled the redefinition of social boundaries.  iPass is predicting a mini-revolt as people seek to re-establish work / life balance in response to the intrusion of mobile devices into their lives.  In my experience, everyone pays lip service to balance, but few actually make the necessary changes. Our social boundaries have already been redefined, and they now include the reality of an always-on, always-connected workplace.

Check out the report.  It’s a worthwhile read if you’re in the mobile space, and  you can download it free at http://www3.ipass.com/about/news-room/mobile-workforce-report/mwr-2010-review/.

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