-Submitted by Francois Ragnet, Managing Principal of Technology Innovation, ACS, A Xerox Company

Smart phones keep getting smarter. Tablet computer applications are emerging at dizzying speeds. And the cloud that links them all is limitless in scope. Mobile computing is no longer a technology trend, but rather, an integral component of our business and social lives.

Already, 83% of Americans own mobile phones and tablet PCs are expected to reach one-third of U.S. adults by 2015, thanks to a remarkable compounded annual growth rate of 51%. The market’s message is obvious—people want anytime, anywhere access to data and documents.

From Viewing to Doing

Although documents can be readily accessed via mobile devices, users are still grappling with issues related to readability, navigation, formats, security and lack of editing/manipulation capabilities.

Man using mobile phone in his car

Image Credit: Getty Images®

For example, a recent study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project revealed that one out of five cell owners experienced frustration over slow phone downloads, 16% had difficulty reading their phone’s small screen and 10% experienced problems entering text. (Depending on your age, those numbers may seem remarkably high or low.)

In short, we can access documents via mobile technologies, but we can’t do much once we get them. That’s about to change.

If Phase I of the mobile movement created a doorway to the remote document world, Phase II encourages us to step inside. That means we’ll soon be using mobile technologies to create, edit, share, print, track and otherwise manage documents and their content.

As technology vendors work to make these functions a reality, the mobile device is, in a sense, becoming the document itself. Take as an example, a retail chain that uses GPS technology to “push” a coupon to a customer’s phone while he is shopping. The phone’s screen is scanned by the sales clerk. The coupon is redeemed and a second offer is sent for future use. All without hard-copy materials ever changing hands.

The Challenge of Keeping Pace

There is no doubt about it—mobile technologies are here to stay, as well as to change and to grow. Furthermore, as new generations of employees enter the workforce, mobile devices will be mandatory.

In the Pew Research Center study mentioned earlier, 42% of young adults aged 18 to 29 reported having trouble doing something because they didn’t have their phone with them – just one small indication of our increasing dependence.

With the myriad of mobile opportunities, however, come obstacles, including privacy and security challenges. Finding trusted partners to help you address these issues will be critical and can help ensure that the mobile movement doesn’t leave your enterprise behind.

How will mobile technology innovation empower changes in your business?

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To learn more about Francois’ perspectives on document innovation visit his blog – The Future of Documents and visit his thought leadership site www.xerox.com/thoughtleadership_ragnet.

Stay tuned for more mobile-related posts as we explore mobility in the enterprise leading up to mNext – IDC’s MobileNext Forum – on Nov. 30-Dec. 1.