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Industry Outlook: 5 Mobile Usage Trends for 2019 and Beyond

In the digital world, changes come fast and furious, making it important to stop every once in a while and contemplate where we came from and where we might be going – and what better time to do so than the start of a new year?

So with that, here are the five mobile usage trends to watch for in 2019 – and beyond.

1 – Devices and applications must be agnostic. Perhaps the biggest rising trend for 2019 is that people now want to use whatever device they have in front of them to accomplish a task and have the same experience translate seamlessly from device to device.

One reason for this is because people don’t think of themselves as having one role. One individual might work a day job as an insurance adjuster, volunteer as the neighborhood association leader, and freelance as a graphic designer on weekends. Whether at a work computer, at home on a personal laptop, on the couch with a tablet, or in line at the grocery with phone in hand, users want to be able to access their data, documents, files and applications from anywhere; accomplish their desired task; and use the device that’s most convenient to do so.

The gig economy also plays a role in making this a trend. Gallup estimates that 36 percent of all workers in the United States participate in the gig economy in some capacity, and as that number grows, it will become more critical to ensure people don’t need to switch out their devices as they switch out whatever hat they’re wearing at the time.

While this largely points to the need for mobile devices to mimic the functionalities of traditional tethered devices like desktop computers – for example, having the ability to print and scan from a mobile phone – it goes both ways; someone sitting at a laptop or desktop also wants to access the photos or documents stored on their phone. Devices and applications must shift to ensure they can meet users wherever they are, providing enough versatility to work for all of an individual’s personas.

2 – Software will be based on the user, not the device. The idea that someone would have to install a particular piece of software on a device to complete a task is going away.

A decade ago, if you wanted to use a word-processing program, you needed to be at the computer where the program was installed. Now, with licensing tied to the user instead of the device, someone can access a program and all of their data from anywhere – a computer in a hotel business center, a friend’s tablet, a coworker’s phone – by logging in to a cloud-based system.

3 – BYOD is now plural. In the workplace, BYOD is not going away; in fact, it’s becoming increasingly common, and now it’s pluralized – that is, it’s “bring your own devices.” Employees now expect to be able to use any combination of company-issued or personal computers, tablets, smartphones or smartwatches for work activities, and have the same access and functionalities.

This ties into trend No. 1 – a desire for more versatility – and drives the need for trend No. 2 – software licenses tied to a person, not a device. Many companies are solving both of these challenges with increased use of the cloud.

4 – Expectations from the home are permeating the workplace. People bring their expectations from home to the workplace, and become frustrated if a task that’s easy enough to do in their personal lives – accessing email, printing, scanning, etc. – is difficult at work.

Usually there are good reasons for this – for example, enterprises use heightened security measures that people don’t use in their homes to protect the business’s intellectual property– but from the employee’s perspective, those good reasons translate into annoyances and extra steps.

That means it’s up to the enterprise to put measures into place that allow employees to be efficient and productive while using their devices and applications, balancing security with ease of use.

5 – Print and scan remain crucial – and need to be mobile, too. Mobile scan and printing are becoming even more relevant as content moves back and forth between the physical and digital realms.

Photos are a consumer example of this. People used to take photos on a physical camera and get printed copies; now, they take digital photos on a phone, but still crave the physicality of a printed photo to put in a frame on the mantel or hang in a locker or cubicle. Yet at the same time, users also want to be able to take old hard-copy photos and digitize them.

In the workplace, most finalized content now is converted to digital to be stored and archived – yet paper remains an integral part of workers’ transaction-based, temporary processes. You almost never see employees archiving paper documents anymore, but neither do you see them working in real time entirely off digital documents.

Mobile scan and print provide the necessary link between the digital and physical realms, allowing consumers and workplaces to seamlessly move back and forth between the two.

Moving Into the Future

Innovations and new ideas change the way people work and live every year. The ability to go mobile with just about everything means that we can do things that weren’t possible even a few years ago. Mobility is driving the need for greater versatility of devices and products – we now desire a frictionless experience from screen to screen and from application to application.

As these mobile usage trends evolve throughout the year, they will drive further changes in the enterprise, business and consumer behaviors, and advances in design and manufacturing – keeping the wheels of innovation turning and laying the groundwork for future disruption.


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Mike Scrutton
Mike Scrutton is Director of Print Technology and Strategy for Adobe and Steering Committee Chair for the Mopria Alliance.
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