[Myth] Mobile Devices Are Peripheral to Business


OK, it’s early days yet, so it’s understandable that we don’t yet believe just how central mobile devices will become in our lives. But look at how much of our data is moving to ‘the cloud’ already; that’s an inexorable trend that will enable better integration of mobile devices. Services like Dropbox, Sugarsync and Apple’s iCloud are just the beginning.

Mobile devices are actually becoming central – not peripheral at all. We will come to wonder how we ever lived in an era when the ‘desktop computer’ acted like a ball and chain, preventing us from leaving the office, even from moving away from a desk! We will discover that we are able to—and will want to—do work wherever and whenever it is best or is needed. In the park, at home, on the beach, in the office, in the countryside. Our office and building designs will change to accommodate this.

Mobile devices enable people to do significant things. We assume that, because of the constraints of mobile devices, people are not willing to do complex things with them. But Luke Wroblewski amongst others has pointed out that people try to do all kinds of unexpected, complicated things with their mobile devices. It’s natural for people to take the capabilities of a new enabling device and explore the limits. Exploration also represents latent needs and opportunities for innovation.

Mobile devices will move from the periphery to being central to the way we do work, play and everything in-between.

Also recognize that organizations take a while to adapt to a new status quo. People are already taking their mobile devices into workplaces. They are using them for personal activities, but also for work, and to circumvent security and social media policies. This is because they are valuable to people, can enable them to get work done when policies stand in the way, and provide them with power and autonomy.

When the PC was introduced, it enabled first managers then workers to be able to wrench computing power from the hands of the IT ‘priesthood’ who patrolled the clean rooms that contained the business computers. Eventually, PCs became integrated into the organization, and IT departments developed processes and policies to recognize that fact and to manage it cost-effectively. Mobile devices will do the same.