The recently concluded Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona attracted a large number of mobile industry leaders as well as more than 109,000 attendees and 2,400 exhibitors. Headlines at the MWC 2019 included the introduction of new-age mobile phones and smart devices and practical use cases for robotics, virtual reality (VR) and machine learning. The theme of the event was “Intelligent Connectivity” and event programming featured discussions about artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality/virtual reality (AR/VR) and big data with 5G network connectivity and smart internet of things (IoT) devices. As the consumerization of these technologies increases, the possibility of them entering the enterprise also increases.
Key highlights of MWC2019 include the following:
- 5G network and services unveiled: Exhibitors at MWC showcased solutions and services that leverage 5G network to improve network connectivity and speed. With the combination of intelligent technologies, it can also deliver highly customized and contextualized content over faster networks irrespective of the device, location or platform.
Attendees at the event were invited to experience hands-on the latest technological innovations and explore multiple possible 5G use cases. For instance, with the extremely low latency of the 5G network, AR headsets can provide a highly interactive virtual experience. Programmable robots flawlessly perform continuous learning and self-improvement processes using data stored in the cloud and delivered via high-speed 5G network. VR and 5G networking can be leveraged to project a high-resolution hologram of an actual person to a remote location.
- New devices introduced: Like past years, leading mobile device OEMs and network services providers unveiled their latest innovations. Major OEMs like Samsung and Huawei introduced foldable phones and made announcements about their 5G-supported mobile devices. Equal attention was given to new devices and solutions that leverage AR and IoT. Microsoft introduced Hololens2, a new AR device that is primarily targeted at non-knowledge workers. Xiaomi also rose to the occasion by introducing smart and intelligent home security control solutions.
- Enterprise mobility plans announced: Samsung announced its support for Android OEMConfig, a Google initiative aimed at enabling OEMs to update their APIs along with Android Enterprise OS. This will allow Samsung to create device-specific APIs as soon as Android APIs are updated. OEMConfig would automatically push those updates to devices, and enterprise mobility management (EMM) vendors managing Samsung Android devices will no longer have to create custom APIs. Samsung has named its OEMConfig app Knox Service Plugin. Samsung also announced its mobile security solution called Knox Platform for Enterprises that will cover all types of devices.
From a mobile security perspective, Google announced that Android is now Fast Identity Online (FIDO2) certified. With security as a key concern, modern identity management solutions focus on methods other than passwords. FIDO is an initiative to reduce the dependency on passwords and leverage the latest authentication technologies like biometric, fingerprint and facial recognition. The MWC event itself had a facial recognition entry system called BREEZ that helped attendees save time by avoiding long queues.
Impact from an Enterprise Mobility Perspective
With respect to the growing interest in 5G, enterprises may be inclined to consider large-scale virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) deployment. The virtual desktop market recently witnessed significant developments in concepts like desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) or cloud-based VDI. Latency or keystroke reaction time is one of the key performance measurement criteria for VDI, which depends strongly on network speed. As the 5G network offers extremely minimum latency, it can provide an enhanced user experience and may prompt enterprises to consider VDI adoption.
From a device management perspective, mobile device management (MDM) has evolved to EMM to extend the management beyond devices to the management of mobile information. Leading EMM solutions have the capability to manage Android devices and content, but they have to keep up with updates for device APIs and Android OS. Initiatives like OEMConfig are addressing this limitation and enable EMM solutions to provide hassle-free Android device management. With the announcement of OEMConfig support from Samsung, the most prominent and popular Android phone manufacturer, the adoption of Android phones from an EMM perspective is expected to increase.
Modern EMM should also provide a unified console to include not just laptops, mobile phones and tablets but also smart IoT devices. As smart devices are adopted for business cases like secure homes, facilities or smart cities, the need for a unified endpoint management (UEM) strategy will escalate. As identified in the ISG Provider Lens quadrant report on Unified Endpoint Management, existing EMM solution vendors have a strong and growing focus on UEM. Until now, key differentiators for UEM vendors depended on how well they integrated with PCs, more specifically Microsoft SCCM, and mobile management. With the proliferation of smart devices and a growing interest in 5G, UEM solutions also aim to cover any and all network-connected devices.
Technologies on display at the MWC promise relevant use cases for enterprises and offer avenues to securely manage them. As leading vendors and OEMs are continuously upgrading their offerings while exploring alliances, consortiums and certifications, investments in enterprise mobility are expected to increase.