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Brown's Bigger Byte - Smartphones, Apple, Windows 10. Unified Comms, Foldable phones

Brown’s Bigger Byte 2019

Mobliciti CTO, Andy Brown, writes a regular blog called Brown’s Bytes – a weekly reflection on the latest hot topics in the world of cloud and mobility. At VIEW 2019, Andy presented Brown’s Bigger Byte, looking at the biggest technology trends of 2019 and the must-deliver projects of 2020, covering everything from Windows 10 and Apple to foldable smartphones and unified comms.

2019 reflections

Apple launched the brand new ‘iCamera’
Apple iPhone 11 Pro smartphone

The iPhone 11’s unveiling echoed a general slowdown in the evolution of mobile phones. Where once each new instalment heralded a number of new features and capabilities, it feels like smartphones are now only evolving in small increments and are becoming increasingly difficult to differentiate. All too often now, the marketing hype around the launch of a new device is based around non-enterprise features such as its camera.

Foldable phones became a ‘reality’
Samsung Fold - foldable smartphone

2019 saw the launch of foldable smartphones such as Samsung’s Galaxy Fold and Huawei’s Mate X. These devices are far from without their flaws, and a number of high-profile incidents with the foldable screens have left them currently feeling more like engineering prototypes. However, foldable screens are a genuinely exciting prospect for the enterprise. They would bring with them the benefit of much more screen real estate and be capable of running business applications far more effectively than current smartphones… all with the added bonus of being able to fold them up and put them in your pocket at the end of the day! Foldable phones within the enterprise space will be one to watch in 2020.

iOS 13 has arrived
iOS 13 - Apple smartphone OS

Released on the 19th September, iOS 13 has had 10 further updates since it arrived – meaning that Apple has been pushing updates nearly once a week. This is controversial in itself and has led many to ask whether iOS 13 is the buggiest release from Apple ever? For enterprise customers, the answer would generally be yes – iOS 13 has been putting added pressure on support desks, especially for native email on iOS. Prior to iOS 13, Apple had diverse code ecosystems, with the iPhone separate from the Mac and so on. iOS 13 has seen this change, with Apple combining ecosystems. The result? The interaction of all these various services is creating a testing nightmare for Apple. Before the introduction of iOS 13, Apple always had a fantastic reputation for code quality and control – iOS 13 is tarnishing this reputation and Apple needs to do something about it.

Office 365
Office 365

A project that has been dominating many enterprises for years, Office 365 is now becoming a reality for a lot of businesses. The enterprise embracing Office 365 is great news for mobile users and remote workers. Smartphones are internet-connected devices and the ability to consume cloud services such as Office 365 can transform the user experience.

Innovation vs Invention

This is an interesting challenge that is starting to build and is certainly one to keep an eye on in 2020 as the pace of change accelerates. Microsoft alone is driving innovation within organisations – as businesses start to use Microsoft’s services, they are automatically inheriting many new features and capabilities. Whilst this can be seen as a good thing, it is essential that businesses keep on top of these new developments. The traditional approach of implementing something and moving onto the next project is redundant – there needs to be a continuous amount of monitoring and control over these cloud services.

The threat to mobile & cloud
Mobile smartphone and cloud

In recent years, attackers have taken the approach of targeting either where data is located, or where the user is most susceptible. Mobile phones are one such place, with users three times more likely to fall for a phishing attack when on a mobile device compared to a desktop. As a result, attackers are specifically targeting mobile devices, aware of their vulnerability. Users are being targeted in such a way that security defences are bypassed… businesses spend a fortune on an email protection system, and the attacker will just send a text with a malicious link in it! Alternatively, clever attacks that would fool most people are occasionally making their way through traditional defences. Ultimately, attackers are after user credentials; the key to accessing business systems and cloud services. Protecting the user when they’re using their smartphones outside of the traditional workplace, as well as the networks they’re on is a must.

Phone use is changing
Smartphone Office 365

A common point of conversation is how powerful smartphones now are, and what they are actually being used for in the enterprise. Generally, most organisations are still just using them for emails, essentially turning an expensive iPhone into a BlackBerry. 2019 has been the year in which changes to this approach have been seen. Gradually, users are beginning to use their phones for much more, particularly in the Office space. The act of simply deploying Word, Excel, and PowerPoint onto mobile devices creates a great user experience, with users often finding ways to use these apps that admins won’t even have thought of. This move is incredibly popular with users and sends a clear message – give users Microsoft Office.   

Windows 10
Windows 10

This has been a must-deliver project for 2019 due to the major deadline for the end of support of Windows 7 quickly approaching in 2020. Windows 10 is far from new, having been released in July of 2015. Many organisations are reverting to a tried-and-trusted approach, using traditional tools to deploy Windows 10 in their environment. It’s not uncommon for companies to breathe a sigh of relief once Windows 10 has been delivered and move onto the next project. However, this shouldn’t be the approach, as Windows 10 should be continuing as a project – Microsoft is increasingly looking for Windows 10 to become a mobile endpoint.

When it comes to Windows 10, admins are looking at a cloud-provided device management platform. For better or worse, Windows becomes like a mobile phone, and consequently, everything that mobile administrators deal with is coming to world of Windows. Things like patching become a whole different ball game… as admins must now deal with something that is an internet connected, cloud-first device, rather than a private network device. Don’t view this with the approach of ‘here is my traditional Windows 10, I’m going to port all of that across to the new world’. This approach won’t work, as the backlog of 23 years of “stuff” which has built up over time will not replicate effectively.

Starting with the principles is essential – one of the reasons that iOS was such a challenge in the enterprise was that admins couldn’t pull a hundred different levers, there was only a few. So, admins had to go back to really basic security principles and management principles and ask “is this enough?” The best approach is to build it up from scratch.

It’s important to remember that this is not a greenfield site. As businesses deploy Windows 10 in the modern world using modern tools and services, users will still be trying to connect back to something that is still on your data centre – this is usually something obscure that will no longer work. This is one of the areas which requires hard work and time to solve.

Unified Comms
Unified Comms

How much technology is required in the modern workplace for multiple participants: some in the room, others globally in workplaces, and those remote workers who are connecting on smartphones? Despite a wealth of technology at their hands, the un-unified nature of these collaboration tools often leads to users employing a muddled combination of video communication software, voice calls when video technology fails, messaging services as users try to work out how to get onto the call, and screen sharing technology.

This is gradually changing, as unified comms are now finally all coming together. Zoom is one such technology, a video communications tool which actually works, as is Microsoft Teams, which comes bundled into Microsoft licenses. Combining Microsoft Teams and Zoom can create a powerful option – two very different applications which perfectly complement one another. The combination of the two gives a powerful solution which enables both internal collaboration (e.g. working on a document together) but also for meeting spaces and external collaboration.

2019 saw a year of change in the world of mobility and cloud. What will 2020 hold? If you would like to discuss any of the points in more detail, get in touch.