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The opportunity of mobility

The seemingly insatiable appetite for mobility in Australia shows no signs of slowing both at home and in the workplace. As employers and employees realize the opportunities of mobile working the demand for mobile devices continues to grow.

Phones have always dominated the mobile market, with mobile phone ownership in Australia now equating to more than one active phone per person. But the real growth is in the tablet market, with tablet adoption in Australia amongst the highest in the world. I believe that in two years we could be looking at the mobile device being the primary tool from which people operate.

Australia has been seen by the world as one of the leading adopters of mobile and digital technology for a long time. Britain’s communications regulator, Ofcom, recently completed a survey that revealed Australia saw the fastest growth in mobile broadband penetration between 2008 and 2011. At the same time, social networking on a mobile phone or smartphone has risen to around four in ten users in the US, the UK, and Australia. The report stated that the popularity of mobile social networking is likely to be a reflection of the high take-up of smartphones in these countries.

The take-up of 4G and the rollout of the National Broadband Network (NBN) will further enable the successful utilization of mobile devices. It will also encourage companies to look at how they help foster efficient working practices through the uptake of mobile devices.

This appetite for mobility will inevitably have both implications for the mobile workforce and opportunities for entrepreneurs of mobile devices and content. Content consumption ‘on the go’ is going up and increasingly the content is video. There is also a knock-on effect for data centers in terms of content that needs to be stored.

Mobile Workforce

The rise of the mobile workforce is now an obvious benefit to many companies and their employees, as it can often lead to cost savings and a better work-life balance. As companies aid remote and mobile working they must consider which devices will best aid their workforce. Currently, there is a big trend towards ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD) and as companies get a handle on the possibilities and technologies available to them, we should see a more uniform approach to devices within a company. Increasingly, companies will pick a device and give their employee the flexibility to tailor apps and programs, rather than choose their own handset.

In a recent guest blog on Forbes, Steve Wozniak wrote that to give people the ability to work from anywhere, companies would move from ‘lite’ collaboration apps towards “all-in-one tools that fit nicely into their existing structures.” Wozniak also stated that he expects to see the “data Centre really stepping up to share the limelight alongside the cloud and consumerization of IT trends that have been so hot these past few years .”

Companies are increasingly moving towards a cloud model, either as a hybrid model or a private cloud. This model also aids a productive mobile workforce and the take up of 4G and the NBN within Australia will maximize the capabilities.

Small business success

In Australia, the rise of mobility will create greater opportunities for new businesses. Australia has always been a country that nurtures small business development, creating opportunities for the entrepreneur in all of us, and mobility has created the next wave of entrepreneurial ideas. If you can think of an app and possess the basic developer skills then it is likely it can be created with minimal investment.

Depending on what these apps and businesses offer, and whether the app created is a cloud or device-based one, entrepreneurs will need to ensure they have the ability to cope with volumes of traffic. As an example, recent extreme temperatures in Sydney prompted a spike in the number of people checking certain weather apps on their phones over a short period of time during the early afternoon, as opposed to a normal spike when people are getting up in the morning and preparing for their day. The preparedness of the app’s creator meant that the app remained stable and the information was always accessible.

I think we will see more startups begin their life in a data Centre where they can easily grow and also take advantage of interconnection opportunities down the track.

Mobile and the media

On a consumer level, there is now far greater consumption of content – increasingly in the form of video content. Whether it’s a commuter catching up with their favorite TV series on their phones or tablets on the way to work, or a family member watching TV and accessing additional program content on their tablet at the same time (twin screening), content is being consumed everywhere we look.

This is driving the creation of video content, primarily by media companies but increasingly by other organizations, in turn, driving the success of video creation and hosting sites like Viocorp. Online influenced companies – I’m primarily making reference to media companies – have to consider their mobile viewers as well as their more traditional online viewers by creating an interface that can easily be viewed on mobile devices. A website that does not successfully transition to be read on a mobile device may be skipped over in favor of a more device-friendly site. Like any business needs to be flexible to succeed, it also needs to be flexible in how it gets its messages to its key audiences. The ability to access information anywhere, anytime means sites are dealing with greater and more constant consumption of data.

Laying the foundations

The availability of apps such as Skype on our mobile phones means that less of our mobile phone calls are going through traditional telco channels. Instead, more and more people are favoring VOIP connections, again increasing data consumption and the need for services such as Skype to hold up high call quality standards and data transfer speeds. Recent articles highlighting massive phone bills – ‘bill shock’ – point out a need for these individuals and their organizations to adopt VOIP capabilities and local data options and for telcos to ensure their customers know the data they are using when they access large content such as video.

The Data Centre market in Australia is reaping the benefits of the growth in mobility. Speed and a friendly interface is the key for keeping customers and other key audiences engaged.

The extra content being created means extra storage is needed, particularly with the rise of video content. Increased data consumption on the go will also increase as mobile devices increase their prevalence and companies need to ensure they are set up and flexible enough as demand increases.

Australia has always been a country for grabbing hold of the next opportunity. We are early adopters, great inventors, and an incubator for many entrepreneurial ideas that have turned into some of the world’s most successful companies. Mobility in Australia has opened up the next opportunity and we are already seeing the benefits and successes that this is bringing.

Tony Simonsen is the managing director of Equinix Australia.

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