It’ll be a subtle change at first. As we get used to the wider capabilities of 4G, we’ll find we’re collaborating more readily with technologies optimised for working anywhere. Microsoft Office 365. Microsoft Lync 2013. These are just some of the tools that we’ll use as readily as we currently use the phone and email.
And 4G will move the idea of business mobility from what is essentially an individual phenomenon, to a collective one.
3G enables you to work pretty flexibly on the move. Check your email or download the odd file. But that’s only for one person. 4G not only enables you to work on the move, but in groups. When that starts happening, we’re going to see real culture change.
We’ll be able to set up instant temporary offices in all kinds of scenarios. Like sharing a 4G connection at a customer site before a sales meeting where there’s no wifi. Setting up a hotspot at a construction site until a fixed connection is installed. Or providing back-up connections for retailers, so core systems can run even if they lose all their fixed lines. And we’ll probably see applications we haven’t even thought of yet.
Whatever happens, 4G will accelerate the ease with which mobility can be embedded in work cultures. But that also means having practical managed mobility solutions and policies in place too.
It’s the perennial paradox of freedom versus control: if people want the freedom to work as flexibly as 4G allows, they need the protection of the corporate network extended to them wherever they happen to be – and on a broad range of mobile devices. Again, on an individual level this can be controlled. But as more people have the ability to work flexibly it means using Mobile Device Management (MDM) solutions such as MaaS360 from Fiberlink to protect data and secure the corporate network.
We’ve been doing a lot of work with our customers, helping them to prepare for the new era of work as more and more people work and access the corporate network remotely. And we have experience to share from introducing our own flexible working and mobility policies.
It’s a fascinating time. No one can really tell exactly how 4G will change things. All we can say is that change is already happening. And I think we’ll be amazed when we look back in five years’ time and see how far we’ve come.
If you’d like to find out more about 4G from O2, go to o2.co.uk/enterprise/4g, or call 01235 433 507 to arrange a 4G Discovery session.