**This post is guest authored by Sumair Dutta of the Aberdeen Group.
Mobile devices and applications are changing the way we communicate, interact, learn and collaborate, both in our consumer and in our professional lives. With the aid of the enhanced capabilities built into smartphones and tablets, we are no longer tethered to a desktop or workstation to access vital content, share information or communicate across multiple channels. This reliance on mobility is creeping – nay, exploding – into our professional lives as well. We are transporting the behaviors exhibited as consumers into our work lives. On a basic level, we demand access to email and other communication while on the move. Beyond that, we desire ready access to enterprise applications for internal, HR-related work or external, customer-facing activities. Organizations are responding slowly. In a recent survey of over 200 organizations on the topic of enterprise mobility, 45 percent reported that they had a B2E mobile application strategy in place, primarily to improve employee productivity while enhancing communication and collaboration. More and more organizations are putting protocols in place for employees to access enterprise applications (via apps or the Web) on employer-supported or employee-owned devices.
In field service, where mobility plays a vital role in determining success, devices get all the love and publicity. We are inundated with information about how the latest devices (e.g., the Microsoft Surface, Blackberry 10 products, the iPad 128GB) will impact field service. The fact is, the form-factors (general size, shape and layout) inherent in these devices, as well as the applications available on them, have already transformed field service. Five years ago, there were two real options for mobile handhelds – either ruggedized mobile devices running on Windows, or the more consumer-oriented Blackberry or Palm devices. The functionality of these consumer devices was often limited to communication, and they offered very little to enable technicians to get work done. There were no real rich applications developed for these consumer devices, and most work was done on paper or a laptop.