The way PCs and mobile devices are configured and managed has come together with modern tools and processes — and the trend will likely accelerate.
Unified management will gain momentum on the enterprise-mobility agenda, coinciding with the various technologies that will appear or start to proliferate. Among them are the long-awaited, but very formative rollout of 5G wireless networks; broader implementations of biometric and multifactor authentication fueled by a higher priority on improving device and remote network security; and broader AI and speech-recognition capabilities on devices ranging from traditional PCs to smart speakers.
As these technologies continue to surface, the case for a common approach to managing and securing any device or service that has access to the enterprise will be harder to dispute either technically or economically.
Along those lines, Microsoft has played an influential role over the past year in pressing customers to shift from the current model of distinct PC and mobile-device configuration and management to a unified approach. That alignment is possible because Windows 10 is built to support modern mobile-device enrollment and security.
Windows 10 migration continues to grow, and with Microsoft’s end of mainstream support for Windows 7 slightly more than a year away, that momentum is expected to peak in 2019. The continued Windows 10 migration and underlying management APIs shared with ecosystem partners including Citrix, Jamf, MobileIron and VMware, are making this transition all but inevitable.
While unifying connected and mobile-device management and security will be a key focus in the months ahead, the type of mobile devices will continue to diversify with the growing footprint of Macs and Chromebooks used in the workplace.
“There is a growing realization that having multiple endpoint asset classes and having a tool for each of those asset classes is probably not an ideal scenario anymore,” said Evan Tomlin, director of solution architecture at Insight, the large systems reseller and service provider
Tomlin, who oversees the company’s Insight Managed Mobility solutions practice for its Connected Workforce program, said that will help fuel the growth of Macs in enterprises.
“We’re very bullish on this,” he said. “Apple has seen that can take significant share from the PC market to the enterprise, which is truthfully one of their last major growth opportunities in the space and the endpoint space.”
As Macs and even Chromebooks start to gain share in the workplace, Tomlin added that doesn’t spell the demise of Windows. Tomlin said Windows 10 upgrades are fueling PC growth.
“While we’ve got more hybrid scenarios, we've got clearly still a robust laptop market,” he said. “Even though a lot of people think we're in a post-PC area, we're actually not.”
Meanwhile, expanded presence of AI and use of speech recognition supported the latest crop of PCs and devices, ranging from phones to smart speakers, such as Amazon’s expanding line of Echo devices and the Google Assistant.
“A lot of the semiconductor vendors – obviously ARM – and then the people who license ARM like Qualcomm and others, have made a big deal of the additional AI silicon that they've put in there,” said Bob O’Donnell, president and chief analyst with TECHnalysis Research. “I think you're going to see a lot of people start to do some mobile AI apps.”
After years of hype over 5G wireless networks, they will start to emerge in 2019, though on a small scale, likely in limited markets for testing and evaluation purposes.
“The networks are going to come to fruition next year,” said Mary Beth Hall, director of wireless strategy at Panasonic, which expects to see some early pilots with its partner, AT&T, next year.
“They’re creating the chip sets and the modules now, and we can start doing our testing and antenna testing and things like that,” Hall added. “It’s going to be all-new product, all-new testing requirements, all-new network requirements; there’s a lot to do for 5G. It’s a very different technology.”
Amazon, Google and Microsoft will take the lead in extending their AI capabilities. Expect Amazon to become especially aggressive in this space, building on this year’s Alexa for Business announcement. The company last week opened a path for device-maker partners with the launch of its new Alexa Voice Service (AVS), allowing them to integrate their various offerings with Alexa for Business. AVS will let customers manage third-party devices as shared devices and private skills from the Alexa for Business console.
The latest updates from Google AI include such releases as AutoML Natural Language, AutoML Translation and Duplex, the search giant’s latest technology that's designed to enable natural-language conversations to complete specific tasks. Microsoft has made similar efforts with the latest updates to its Bot Framework and Cortana Conversational AI, improving natural language on web apps, Microsoft Teams, Skype and its own Cortana interface, as well as third-party platforms including Facebook Messenger and Slack.
In this slide show, numerous experts in enterprise mobility provide 11 advances they anticipate will impact the mobile devices, services and management landscape in the months ahead.