By Marcus Leach

It has been another busy year in the world of business, complete with the ups and downs we have come to expect, but nevertheless a year that ends with seeds of positivity hoping to flourish in the new year.

And so, as another action-packed year comes to an end, we take a look ahead to 2013. In this new series, 2013 Trends: What can we expect, Fresh Business Thinking examines different industry sectors, and what can be expected from each.

Alan Laing, Vice President EMEA, Acronis, examines the mobile revolution which is expected to hit businesses in 2013...

Mobility has been one of the fastest growing areas we have ever seen in the enterprise technology space, said Laing/ And believe it or not, it’s still in the very early days. But this accelerated growth moves way beyond simply the number of devices being sold. The mobile revolution in the enterprise will have a profound impact in 2013 and beyond. As the cliché goes, the best is yet to come. But let’s not forget that this will not come without its own set of challenges.

The past year was definitely an inflection point for mobile in the enterprise. Apple kept cranking out iPads, Android continued to make a more solid foray into the enterprise, and Microsoft introduced its Surface tablet. More importantly, from the enterprise perspective, enterprises started moving beyond the idea of simply viewing tablets as “just another device,” to using them as a true business platform.

For many users, including myself, smartphones and tablets have almost become their primary computing platforms. The more things they can do with their mobile devices, the better. I see that sentiment mirrored in a lot of our customers, as well as throughout my day-to-day ‘travels’ — at work, on the train, in coffee shops, etc.

So what will we see in 2013 and beyond?

Proliferation of mobile devices: Blackberry takes a final nosedive from enterprise dominance, giving rise to Apple and Android and necessitating a seamless and secure way of integrating many different platforms into the enterprise network, while at the same time BYOD, smartphone growth and the exponential adoption of tablets in business and at home will continue to grow. In fact, Juniper research predicts that by 2014, employee-owned smartphones and tablets used for business will more than double to nearly 350 million.

BYOD becomes the norm: Mobile devices are the ultimate hybrid consumer/corporate usage devices. So we think BYOD will become more of the norm, but that is predicated on IT departments being able to provide key business capabilities to their users, whether it’s on corporate liable or employee liable devices. For example, securely accessing corporate file resources that may reside on Windows servers, NAS devices or SharePoint — how does IT provide a simple solution for their end-users while giving them (IT) the security and management they require?

Enterprises clamp down on consumer services: Security issues were big for Dropbox users in 2012, and we hear all the time from companies that want to solve that “Dropbox problem.” Now that is not to say that Dropbox isn’t good for consumers, but for many enterprises, especially those in regulated industries, they need a secure file sharing solution that protects an organisation’s critical assets. What is needed is a solution with consumer-grade simplicity and enterprise-grade security and management. 2013 will see an increase in enterprise syncing solutions as Dropbox begins to recede its presence back to the consumer market, where it belongs.

Consolidation continues to make mobility like the Wild, Wild West: I describe the market like this all the time. Things are moving very fast and there are few rules. But there is universal recognition that mobility is changing the way people are conducting business. So the market, while expanding with new ideas, products and companies, will also consolidate as more established vendors realise they need a piece of it. In 2013, these subsectors will become mainstream and the larger players will continue to evaluate opportunities on build/buy/partner basis–and many of them will end up on the buy side of this decision.

Of course there will surely be some surprises in store for the marketplace — new solutions, new entrants, and new customer demands. The mobility market is fluid and dynamic and there are still so many different directions to go in as we find new ways to deploy these devices into the corporate environment.

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