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Will your next laptop be a mobile device?

The idea isn’t as crazy as it sounds. The UK is in the vanguard of adoption of non-PC devices and ranks second only to Singapore in the use of the new devices for browsing the web. Currently in the UK, 67.6% of non-PC web browsing coming from mobiles, 24.7% from tablets and 7.7% by other devices such as games consoles and ereaders.

Three market shifts are driving this change – mobile, social and cloud. These trends change what we connect, how we connect and how we transact.

The world is becoming increasingly mobile and the era of the mobile app is upon us. The statistics speak for themselves with 40 billion apps being downloaded from the Android Market and iTunes App Store since they started. Impressive figures especially when you bear in mind that this is only the start of the mobile apps era. This trend doesn’t show any signs of diminishing, with research showing that mobile users are now spending an average of 3 hours a day looking at their mobile, with apps winning over web consumption.

The second trend, social, combines with mobile to change how businesses engage with its customers and employees. In 2011 global smartphones shipments topped those of clients PCs for the first time and companies started to see a change in how businesses stayed connected. In the workplace, consumers are now more willing to buy their own devices and use them for work. Companies in turn are embracing this trend, in some cases even offering employees monetary incentives. As a result companies can move from 15% of their workplace being mobile to over 80%.

This had lead to a shift from paper to glass. Sales representatives are increasingly using tablets to show product information to clients, to conduct presentations and banks and financial service firms have developed iPad compatible software applications to let clients check their accounts without logging into their PCs. With the rapid rise of web based applications it is not much of a stretch to suspect that iPad adoption will soon become widespread across industries. From a business perspective why would industries not embrace this change when the changes are allowing allowing employees to access corporate data anywhere and are improving communication with better social collaborative tools.

With changes in the ways companies do business and a growing number of devices we have seen the advent of the final market trend, Cloud Computing. When businesses build an application/website, they think about a global consumer base as consumers could come from any and all part of the world. When an application is accessed from all parts of the world, it cannot be efficiently served with a single server or even a set of static servers.With the front end application (UI) being present in multiple devices and users accessing it from all parts of the world, just one or a simple network of servers would not be enough to support this activity. Thus is the advent of Cloud Computing. Cloud computing offers the elasticity and scalability in the backend to support the exponentially growing front end activity.

The combination of these market trends means we are about to enter an exciting time of IT evolution. The trends we are seeing currently will combine to create the biggest technology shift since the internet. In 2011 the iPad illustrated that tablets could change the use of apps on mobile devices. In 2012, apps will make tablets more meaningful in business. The greater availability of mobile devices at lower prices, combined with increasing consumer appetite for Internet browsing, content consumption and app engagement will drive forward this growing trend. In order to succeed companies will have to use these technologies to transform their businesses.

Suddenly our original question doesn’t seem so crazy after all.