Mobile Internet – The Number One Disruptive Technology

If you read the McKinsy Global Institutes report, “Disruptive technologies: Advances that will transform life, business, and the global economy”, you will note that of all the disruptive technologies the very most disruptive will be the growth of the “mobile Internet”. In truth they are simply saying that the Internet we have always known now has fully absorbed mobility and the PC is no longer the preferred device for accessing it.

It is important to note that McKinsey looks at disruption in technology with the respect that it should stating, “Technology is moving so quickly, and in so many directions, that it becomes challenging to even pay attention—we are victims of ‘next new thing’ fatigue. Yet technology advancement continues to drive economic growth and, in some cases, unleash disruptive change. Economically disruptive technologies—like the semiconductor microchip, the Internet, or steam power in the Industrial Revolution—transform the way we live and work, enable new business models, and provide an opening for new players to upset the established order. Business leaders and policy makers need to identify potentially disruptive technologies, and carefully consider their potential, before these technologies begin to exert their disruptive powers in the economy and society.”

As an argument for picking mobile Internet for the number one spot included “the rate of technology improvement and diffusion”, which compared the cost of a super computer in 1975 ($5 million) versus the cost of a 2007 iPhone-4 ($400) with the same computing performance (MFLOPS). Add to that the growth of smartphones and tablets since iPhone’s launch, a growth rate of 6 times the revenue (as of May 2013), very nearly doubling every year. At that speed it is certain that the dominant method for using the Internet, whether through a home network and landline access or while away via Wi-Fi or Mobile access, will be a mobile device.

The report also mentions that there are 4.3 billion people remaining who are not connected and most likely they will eventually connect by way of mobile Internet access. It also noted that 1 billion transaction and interaction workers are engaged by way of the Internet (nearly 40% of the total global workforce), $1.7 trillion in GDP (globally) are related to the net, and that net-based interaction and transaction workers represent 70% of global employment costs.

These later stats are considered “illustrative pools of economic value” that longer term could be impacted by the growth of mobile Internet access, access devices and mobile based services.

As an example; mobile business intelligence (Mobile BI), up until a handful of years ago, was seldom considered. Most thought that business intelligence would always be a small group of analysts sitting in front of big PC monitors spitting out dashboards that no one understands. Any form of mobility was thought to be a luxury and what did exist didn’t exactly drive end-user adoption beyond those data scientists. Today most of the traditional BI systems and platforms have introduced mobile and software offerings to provide for BI on mobile devices.

According the TEC’s 2014 Mobile BI Buyers Guide, citing an earlier Citrix report, mobile is important now and will be more important in the future. In it it states; “mobile BI apps nowadays occupy a significant fourth place among other productivity apps in an organization. Information workers, ranging from top decision makers to middle management and operation workers, are increasingly using mobile BI apps for reviewing and analyzing data, thus replacing the traditional paradigm for performing data slicing and dicing using a PC or laptop.”

“Moreover, it appears that mobile BI apps are a natural fit with other mobile systems within the corporate mobile ecosystem. Due to their visual nature and ability to provide consistent and intensive interaction with other business systems, mobile BI applications enable users to perform data discovery and analysis using a user-friendly interface, while providing extensive collaboration features and enabling the sharing of rich content (e.g., voice, images, and text). Mobile BI capabilities can either be embedded within mobile BI offerings, or can sit nicely on top of enterprise collaboration platforms. The latter case is seen with platforms such as Microsoft SharePoint and TIBCO tibbr, which enable rich embedding of mobile BI and analytics as part of their collaborative offerings.”

Businesses of all sizes will need to evaluate carefully the disruptive nature of mobile and consider, like the BI community is, what other systems, end-users and opportunities there are to bring the power of mobile access to. There are many excellent firms across the globe already down this path and having a comprehensive understanding of the road ahead. Accessing one of these to aid you in evaluating how emerging technologies can be maximized for your business and harnessing the disruption may set you ahead of your competition.

However it is very clear that mobile is not just here but going to be a disruptive and world changing technology across many domains for a long time to come.