As technology becomes smarter and capable of more connections and interactions, we will begin to see certain trends arise in the mobility industry. Trends such as, low-cost mobile devices will positively impact developing regions around the world, Internet of Things (IoT) partnerships will drive transformation of mobile networks and the proliferation of wearables will further increase the number of connected devices.

These trends and more are shaping the future of mobility, and what they mean for executives in today’s business landscape. In addition, the convergence of mobile, cloud and infrastructure is demanding that executives prepare for what will certainly be an evolutionary time in our history.

So looking ahead over the next twelve months, what mobility trends have immediate business implications for organizations and service providers?

Future of Mobility Podcast on iTunes
Listen to the Future of Mobility Podcast on iTunes

What do CXOs need to watch for?

Mobility Trend #1: Cheap Mobile Phones for the Developing World

Cisco’s recent VNI Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast predicts that by 2018, there will be nearly 5 billion users globally. Much of this growth is focused in developing regions. For example, in the Asia Pacific region, the number of mobile users is expected to increase from 2.2 billion to 2.6 billion over the next 5 years. In the Middle East and Africa, the number of mobile users is expected to increase from 565 million to 733 million over the next 5 years.

This growth and extension of mobility is going to be more ubiquitous and that provides great opportunity for businesses looking to extend their audience.

Mobility Trend #2: The Proliferation of Wearables

Cisco VNI also estimates there will be 177 million wearable devices globally, growing eight-fold from 22 million in 2013. This tells us that wearable devices are no longer outlier tech, they represent the future unfolding before us in real-time.

The wide variety and use cases for wearables from companies large and small, indicate that this is a category that’s not only beginning to gather steam, but also has staying power. In a recent Future of Mobility podcast, Cisco Chief Futurist, Dave Evans outlined that the future of wearable have immediate implications for our business and personal lives. This is not a trend to be underestimated or overlooked.

Mobility Trend #3: Next-Generation Mobile Network and Monetization Opportunities

A top imperative being expressed by mobile service providers is to drive profitability by monetizing new opportunities. Mobile network operators’ business models are changing rapidly. The decline in voice traffic, loss of messaging, and competition to their data business from over-the-top (OTT) providers and alternative access networks such as Wi-Fi, means that they desperately need to find new ways to make money.  Industry leaders must ask, “What does the next wave of monetization look like?” Simply put, it will include everything from mobile cloud, network enhanced services and new solutions and services on display.

Mobility Trend #4: The Convergence of Wi-Fi and Small Cells 2.0

Wi-Fi is now accepted as an integral part of the mobile network architecture.  Beyond delivering in-building coverage and offload relief, Wi-Fi is beginning to deliver alternative monetization opportunities. For example, sophisticated location-based, Wi-Fi-enabled solutions are enhancing the user experience and delivering benefits to the bottom-line. Operators are now seeking the same advanced monetization opportunities from licensed small cells.

The convergence of small cells and enterprise Wi-Fi networks are creating new models and are delivering mobility in a way that is meaningful to users through a converged network architecture. This means small cells and Wi-Fi have a place both outside and within the enterprise as a way to successfully meet current mobile demand – now and in the future. This can drive enterprise and service providers to work together to have a better outcome for the enterprise and a new monetization opportunity for service providers. It’s a win-win.

Mobility Trend #5: Mobile Carriers and Long-Term Evolution (LTE)

Another key trend CXOs should watch is how LTE is just starting to prove its worth to carriers and mobile devices makers worldwide. A key theme at this year’s Mobile World Congress was the ongoing 4G/LTE global ramp up, including the build-up of more network coverage, capacity and density, which can have tremendous impact on businesses and organizations worldwide.

These trends, along with the notion of what features can be virtualized, which ones were physical and how they all need to work together in a coherent architecture, will be the main drivers for organizations and SP’s moving forward. This time next year, I won’t be surprised to see a couple of great, new innovations based on these developments.

For more about where mobility will take us, check out a new Future of Mobility Podcast I recently participated in with Chris Nicoll, head of Analysys Mason’s Network Technologies and Enterprise and M2M research practices. A summary of the podcast can found on SlideShare.


For more information about the Future of Mobility, follow @Cisco_Mobility on Twitter and join the conversation #FutureOfMobility.

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Participate in Cisco's Innovation Grand Challenge  #IoT
Participate in Cisco’s Innovation Grand Challenge #IoT

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Doug Webster

Vice President