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The Effect of Mobile Computing on Modern IT May 2, 2013

Posted by brltkd in Modern IT.

The rapid advances in computing have led to the evolution of technologies that are changing the face of information technology. Computers are no longer pieces of equipment preforming their tasks in a solitary environment. They are now interconnected and pervasive in society, allowing people to access and share information from nearly anywhere. The advent of mobile computing is a primary driver of the shift in IT.

There has been tremendous growth in the sales and use of mobile devices and that trend is not showing any signs of slowing. People are transitioning away from PCs, as mobile devices, especially tablets, are becoming their primary computing devices. Last year, about 4.3 billion people around the world, about 60% of the total population, had mobile devices [1]. Gartner is predicting that the sales of PCs, including laptops, will decline by 7.6% from 2012 to 2013 while sales of mobile devices will increase 12% [2]. The expected growth of tablet sales is even greater, nearly 70%, as users are increasingly satisfied with the experience they get from tablets [2]. This demonstrates how integrated mobile computing has become in today’s society. This widespread adoption creates a huge impact on all areas of information technology as people expect their mobile device to have the capability to perform most of the computing tasks they require.

One of the hallmarks of mobile computing is the ability to access data and information from anywhere at any time. This is not limited to searching for information about a specific topic. Users actually want to access their own personal data like their pictures, music, and documents. This is facilitated by the use of cloud computing. Approximately a billion people are expected to subscribe to mobile cloud applications by 2014 [3]. These applications provide seamless access to information from multiple devices. The user can transition from a desktop computer to their smartphone or tablet without concern to the version of a particular file on each device. In addition to the productivity aspects, the cloud enhances the reliability of data as well. Mobile devices are more susceptible to loss, theft, and damage than desktop computers. Storing data in the cloud, rather than on the mobile device itself, can help protect against data loss in these scenarios [4].

Social computing is an important aspect of modern information technology and mobile computing has played a large role in this area. Social computing is all about relationships between people, places, and things in which they are interested. It also creates the ability for anyone to have their own presence in the Internet to post information about anything they deem relevant, and most of them are using mobile computing for it. On Facebook, the world’s most popular social networking site [5], approximately two-thirds of their 1.11 billion active monthly users are using their mobile products [6]. Mobile computing allows people to share information about where they are or what they are doing in real-time. Some people do this automatically by “checking in” at places when the location sensors in their device determine they are at a specific location.

Combining mobile computing with social computing produces a treasure trove of information containing people’s thoughts on a wide variety of topics, and societal trends, and interests. The sheer number of people using these services produces a massive amount of data. The use of mobile devices increases this information. Many popular mobile applications collect, use, and transmit to third parties, information such as the user’s current city, GPS location, age, gender, and unique phone identifier [7] in addition to the information the user explicitly enters. Considering that over three quarters of Internet users between the ages of 18-49, a prime marketing demographic, use social media [8], this information would be extremely valuable to corporations, politicians, and others.

Analyzing this data to extract meaning can prove to be difficult. Besides the volume of information, the format of the information is as different as video, text, images, and sensor data. The velocity of data growth is staggering as well. The current digital universe of 2.72 zettabytes is expected to double every two years [9]. To add further complication, the information is generally in unstructured and disparate formats depending on the platform that produced it. Technologies such as Apache Hadoop use distributed computing clusters to allow cost-effective analysis of this data, and non-relational databases are often used to accommodate the variety of data types [9].

In addition to the contributions mobile computing makes to these big data sets, it is also a valuable resource for consuming the results of the analysis. Many companies use business intelligence (BI) platforms to analyze their business operations and use the data to drive strategic decisions. Measuring and analyzing data are primary functions of BI platforms. While dashboards and scorecards provide a general overview of key performance indicators, there is also the ability create customized views containing specific information of interest. Online analytical processing allows users to drill into data and interactive visualization helps stakeholders better understand the workflow through a visual representation and most major BI vendors have or are developing mobile applications to support this functionality [10]. This allows the decision makers to have up-to-date information at any time so they are able to make informed decisions.

The use of mobile technology has caused a shift in the culture of IT within businesses as well. People are no longer tied to their desktop computers. They have access to a wealth of information virtually anywhere though their mobile device. The rapid adoption of mobile technology in the consumer market has fed a demand for this type of access in the enterprise as well [11]. Users want to receive their email and have access to critical business data no matter where they may be [12]. Employees, and especially executives, have a more sophisticated understanding of and familiarity with advanced information technologies than ever before [13]. This is contributing to the shift of IT from being holding a purely support role to being contributors towards business strategy. IT is innovating and presenting ways of using technology to enable new methods to engage customers or improve processes that simplify tasks for the employees.

As the world is becoming increasingly digital, it is critical that IT evolves to take on a leadership role. Technology is becoming the cornerstone of many businesses and they must have the ability to adapt to a rapidly changing marketplace. The relative simplicity of using mobile devices combined with their capabilities has driven their rapid adoption. Mobile computing is no longer something nice to have; it is an expectation that businesses tailor their products to these devices to satisfy their customer base.


[1] K. Kelleher, “Mobile growth is about to be staggering,” CNNMoney, 20 February 2013. [Online]. Available: http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2013/02/20/mobile-will-growth-is-about-to-be-staggering/. [Accessed 27 April 2013].
[2] J. Rivera and R. van der Meulen, “Gartner Says Worldwide PC, Tablet and Mobile Phone Combined Shipments to Reach 2.4 Billion Units in 2013,” Gartner, 4 April 2013. [Online]. Available: http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/2408515. [Accessed 27 April 2013].
[3] S. Cherry, “Cloud Computing Drives Mobile Data Growth,” IEEE, October 2009. [Online]. Available: http://spectrum.ieee.org/telecom/wireless/cloud-computing-drives-mobile-data-growth. [Accessed 27 April 2013].
[4] P. A. Cox, “Mobile cloud computing,” IBM Developer Works, 11 March 2011. [Online]. Available: http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/cloud/library/cl-mobilecloudcomputing/. [Accessed 27 April 2013].
[5] Silicon Republic, “Facebook world’s largest social network, followed by Google+,” Silicon Republic, 29 January 2013. [Online]. Available: http://www.siliconrepublic.com/new-media/item/31236-facebook-worlds-largest-so. [Accessed 27 April 2013].
[6] Facebook, “Key Facts,” Facebook, 31 March 2013. [Online]. Available: http://newsroom.fb.com/Key-Facts. [Accessed 27 April 2013].
[7] The Wall Street Journal, “What They Know – Mobile,” The Wall Street Journal, 17 December 2010. [Online]. Available: http://blogs.wsj.com/wtk-mobile/. [Accessed 27 April 2013].
[8] J. Brenner, “Pew Internet: Social Networking (full detail),” Pew Research, 14 February 2013. [Online]. Available: http://pewinternet.org/Commentary/2012/March/Pew-Internet-Social-Networking-full-detail.aspx. [Accessed 6 April 2013].
[9] Intel, “Big Data 101: Unstructured Data Analytics,” June 2012. [Online]. Available: http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/big-data/unstructured-data-analytics-paper.html. [Accessed 28 April 2013].
[10] J. Hagerty, R. L. Sallam and J. Richardson, “Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence Platforms,” Gartner, 6 February 2012. [Online]. Available: http://www.gartner.com/technology/reprints.do?id=1-196WFCB&ct=120207&st=sb. [Accessed 9 March 2013].
[11] M. West, “Here We Go Again: Ten More Expectations and Planning Positions for 2013 and Beyond,” Saugatuck Technology, 13 December 2012. [Online]. Available: http://saugatucktechnology.com/blog/entry/1152RA%20Here%20We%20Go%20Again-%20Ten%20More%20Expectations%20and%20Planning%20Positions%20for%202013%20and%20Beyond.html. [Accessed 23 March 2013].
[12] Deloitte, “What is the role of the CIO in the postdigital enterprise?,” Deloitte, 14 November 2012. [Online]. Available: http://deloitteblog.co.za/2012/11/14/what-is-the-role-of-the-cio-in-the-postdigital-enterpris/. [Accessed 23 March 2013].
[13] J. W. Verity, “Shifting boundaries,” in Defining Modern IT, Islandia, CA Industries, 2012, pp. 17-19.




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