The shift to mobile devices

The shift to mobile devices
Over recent years, the drive for technology has become increasingly focused towards mobile, with a growing need to consume services when and where it suits us. Thanks to the pervasiveness of mobile devices and the decreasing price of data services, this trend is set to continue its upward trajectory.

In fact, we seem to be reaching the tipping point where our need for mobility is so great, that demand for mobile apps is taking over our need for traditional desktop or non-mobile application development. As our latest Tech Cities Job Watch report reveals, mobile technology skills have become the industry’s most wanted for the first time, with demand for permanent IT staff with Mobile skills growing by nearly 40% in the past year (since Q3 2016).

Today, the primary means for us to access content is via mobile devices, rather than desktop computers or even tablets. This is because mobile technology, screen size and processing power has now reached a point where we’re able to get more done in previously unproductive pockets of time, using our mobile. For example, we can learn a new language on the train to work; manage our financial affairs in the café whilst waiting for a friend; check our heart rates as we ascend a challenging incline on our morning run; and much more. As a result, consumers are increasingly choosing not to be tethered to their desks by the services they use in both their personal and professional lives.

“Mobile first” approach

However, with the limited screen size of mobile devices, viewing the internet has changed from a desktop window to something that is more like a letterbox; and often, older websites don’t present well on these devices. This leads to a poor user experience, which can be costly to businesses, as increasingly fickle users give up and take their money elsewhere. Because of this, many organisations are continuously experimenting with re-developing their websites to ensure they are mobile-friendly.

Organisations need to finally accept that their strategy for websites must fundamentally shift to being “mobile first” as traffic levels for mobile surpass those of desktop.

Due to the advances and innovations of mobile devices, one of the big decisions organisations have to make when assessing the functionality they want to provide users is whether the user experience would be best through a mobile-responsive website or through a dedicated mobile application. However, cost differences between these options are currently quite significant, as responsive websites have become a standard offering whilst mobile applications are still quite expensive (as skills remain in high demand) to produce.

Some of the best mobile applications work well because they take advantage of native functionality of the device itself, like GPS or the camera. For now, mobile applications will provide a better user experience than a website, however the cost is not always justifiable for many businesses.

Will mobile devices replace desktop?

In many ways, mobile devices have already replaced desktops for web browsing, with social media now taking up a significant portion of time spent online.

However, whilst websites tend to be quite general in their offering, they are often still and will continue to be the first port of call for potential customers. At this stage, it is unlikely that an organisation will have an application and not a website.

Therefore, instead of choosing between developing a mobile application or a mobile-responsive website, many organisations often will decide to create both as they represent different types of user experiences, often driven by different user intentions.

However, it’s clear that the future is Mobile – and not just smartphones. Business disruption, the Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence will all positively impact the demand for Mobile skills. You can either wait for the market to pressure your organisation into action, or you can get ahead of the storm and take a proactive approach to growing your own Mobile talent.

Download our latest Tech Cities Job Watch Q3 2017 report to find out more.

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