The way we work is changing and technology is the catalyst. Every day our lives become more and more dependent upon mobile devices, both in terms of the ways we socialize and the ways that we work. From the perspective of the latter, the increased mobility offered by such devices means that businesses can now offer employees the freedom to work flexibly.

No longer are we confined to our desks – mobile devices and applications effectively allow us to do our jobs from practically anywhere. Business software is extending beyond the realms of on-premise and into the cloud, and this move is just the next natural progression in the evolution of the world of working.

Don’t just take my word for it. Microsoft recently announced a new version of its flagship Windows operating system, Windows 8, which has been specifically designed to take advantage of the shift to mobile. The software giant has taken a certain degree of risk in doing so, altering iconic user interface features to make Windows 8 compatible with trends that favour moving apps and data to the cloud, rather than storing them locally.

The move might seem like a bold one, but it actually reflects a clear shift in the IT industry to a more mobile, application based framework – a world of “small apps, and big data” – where cloud-based apps will reign supreme, both on mobile and desktop devices. So, say goodbye to installing new software by CD and instead say hello to a situation where applications can be accessed easily and quickly from anywhere, regardless of device.

Gartner analyst Ian Finley recently claimed that enterprises will reach a “crucial tipping point” where there are more web-connected mobile devices in the workplace than there are PCs. He estimates that currently 38 percent of mobile devices are brought into the workplace by employees and called for a major shift to a more mobile app-based framework. This, he surmised, would allow for flexible yet consistent working from a multi-device platform, meeting the demands of the modern, ever-evolving enterprises.

The road to success

An important factor for the success of this move will be that applications work well across all devices, so, if an individual is updating financial accounts or sending an email they will have the same quality of service and functionality, regardless of the device they are using.

A mobile app based framework also means greater emphasis will be placed on developing software that takes advantage of the capabilities of individual mobile platforms: Windows, iOS, Android etc. Poor attention to detail here will have negative effects on the user experience, and if this trend is to truly take off the customer needs to be kept front of mind throughout.

Challenger to champion

Another interesting point around this transformation is how it will benefit smaller, more agile players in the software development market. This move means that they are able to compete with the big four such as CA technologies and IBM, flattening the playing field.

It will also be a golden era for customers, as it will change the purchasing dynamic for IT completely, eliminating the longwinded and complex process of procurement, integration and testing, and ushering in a new era of ‘try before you buy’ and enabling a greater level of flexibility and freedom to experiment.

Large enterprise IT firms will be forced to make a move quickly or risk getting left behind. And, with the burden of legacy software to deal with, these firms will have to make ground through acquisitions and partnerships – adding further cost and complexity to their existing software portfolios.

It’s clear that the future of IT will be versatile, mobile, and simple to access. Only time will tell whether the big four are agile enough to be a part of this world, or whether they end up going the way of the dodo, and the desktop.