Few technologies have had such a profound impact as smartphones, being used to great effect by both consumers and businesses as tools to effectively communicate and collaborate without the need for cumbersome technologies.
As a result, use of these devices has skyrocketed in the past decade, along with heavy advancement in the handsets themselves. It's now common to find a smartphone with a full suite of email, document production and remote accessing capabilities, not to mention the ability to video conference with other devices and traditional computers.
The market has seen continued growth throughout 2014, and it's a certainty the devices will increasingly be taken on by companies across the globe.
This article will outline the continued growth of smartphones, along with the necessary measures to ensure the devices are effectively utilised within the structure of any company.
A look at smartphone growth
Smartphones are experiencing substantial growth around the world, with the market seeing shipments reach 295.3 million units in the second quarter of 2014. This represents year-over-year growth of 23.1 per cent, according to a recently released report from the International Data Corporation (IDC).
Growth was fuelled primarily by demand for mobile computing, along with an increasing number of low-cost smartphones, utilising cheaper components and instead relying of capable software in order to bring costs down. This dual combination of factors is expected to result in shipments surpassing 300 million units – the first time such a number has ever been reached.
"A record second quarter proves that the smartphone market has plenty of opportunity and momentum," said IDC Program Director Ryan Reith, who works with the worldwide quarterly mobile phone tracker.
A number of smartphone vendors are behind this growth, each offering devices with a range of different functionalities and feature sets. Android phones often offer larger screens and more choice when it comes to hardware, along with flexible software. Apple devices have the benefit of increased security, along with the added weight of the recent IBM deal to create specific enterprise level apps for businesses.
"As the death of the feature phone approaches more rapidly than before, it is the Chinese vendors that are ready to usher emerging market consumers into smartphones," said Senior Research Manager Melissa Chau, who also works with the mobile tracker.
Feature phones are devices with an extremely limited functionality set, often only reaching as high as basic email or internet browsing. In the modern business environment, feature phones can offer little in the way of improving organisation efficiency.
Smartphones are certainly where the IT market is positioned over the next few years, and it's essential that appropriate considerations are leant to how the devices can benefit organisations.
Ensuring effective governance
The underlying key to an effective smartphone strategy is IT governance – the overarching term used as a subset of corporate governance. IT governance can be broken down as the processes that ensure the effective and efficient use of IT in enabling a business to reach necessary goals. In this case, smartphones are the tool that need governing.
This can start with the establishment of clear and transparent smartphone policies that outline the specific uses for the devices, such as where they can be used and for what purpose.
Thereafter, IT governance training becomes the second most important consideration, establishing practices that can teach staff not just how to use the devices, but how to do so effectively. After all, there's no use in a business taking on expensive portable computing devices with the goal of simply using them to take calls.
With smartphones having a clearly defined role within the IT organisational structure, it's far easier for the business to see tangible value through adoption of the devices.
As smartphones see increasing shipments, it's only going to become more important to understand how these devices can benefit a business.