We in the current day world are getting to witness paradigm shifts and revolution in the information technology space. One such radical change is how computing techniques are changing and becoming unbelievably mobile. Such mobility is empowering end users stay connected with his/her work, family and friends at all given times. Are such connectivity and the power of mobile computing a boon or a bane to the us, the end users?
As stated above, connectivity is a huge boon. Mobile computing has brought the world together and made the society a close knit place. This has certainly shattered geographical bounds and has promoted the global economy. People in the medical field are more connected with their patients even in remote areas, thus serving a larger number of people at the right time, saving more lives. Students are able to take on courses at their convenience from the comfort of their own homes, not having to spend a lot of time and money travelling to physical places of education. It is helping under-developed countries get better access
to resources to fulfill their basic needs including health and education. Mobile apps are becoming increasingly popular, giving all information one can ask for, at their finger tips, within seconds. One can stay connected and carry on their professional practice, in cases of emergency, even when vacationing on the remotest island. Executives are able to take timely decisions, even when they are away from their offices, without being deprived of the information they need, helping save a lot of money for their businesses. With all of this power of mobile computing and surplus of information available through devices (smart phones, e readers and the like), applications and platforms (cloud in all its glory such as Infrastructure and Software as a Service), the opportunities to leverage these resources in ones everyday living, are literally endless.
With all of these advantages of mobile computing what could potentially go wrong? Isn’t it a boon to the human race and here to stay forever? Well, clearly the transition into the mobile computing world is inevitable. There was a recent study which said 48% of the world’s population owns a mobile phone (not necessarily a smart phone) and with newer features introduced with every version, by the technology giants such as Apple, Google, Amazon, Microsoft the penetration of the mobile computing devices and applications is increasing leaps and bounds.
On the flip side, the rate at which such devices are penetrating into the market are making them unmanageable, especially when they have been distributed at a corporate level. When personal computers were still dominant, it was a lot easier for the IT team to manage computers, distribute and control software updates, distribute security patches etc. Clearly, the product companies have anticipated such problems and are introducing solutions to mitigate them, but overall the complexity of managing such a multitude of devices in diverse locations is not easy and straight forward. From a security angle, since information is now accessible anywhere, anytime, there is an increased risk of secure data being leaked. Especially when people are in roles where they have access to highly personal information such as patient records, social security numbers, employee data etc.
Special care needs to be exercised in protecting such information. When such enterprise level devices are distributed for work as well as personal use of employees, clear protocols need to be established both for what information can be accessed as well as how to use them outside of work premises. The onus of making sure the device has been updated and is secure lies not just with the IT team but equally so with the owner of the device as well. Besides such enterprise level devices, personal users of such devices should also take extra care to ensure security through use of secure passwords, periodically change passwords, use of secure networks etc. to ensure they do their part in mitigating potential vulnerabilities. With an exodus of computing options available these days, the avenues to hack have increased manifold. So, it is in the best interest of the user and the community that the user should take due precautions to safeguard his/her device.
One other bane I see is how the user is connected yet disconnected. We talked about how connectivity has increased and one can be reached at almost all possible times. That said, in certain disciplines where in person/face to face meetings are very important, such mobile computing is doing some damage in reducing chances of such meetings. E.g. it does help to attend in person classes, medical sittings, meetings every now and then, to ensure the service is effective, accurate and has a personal touch. When I talk about being disconnected, I see that there is a risk of the *personal touch* being lost in services offered, when mobile computing dominates all interactions. To mitigate this the user really needs to evaluate scenarios carefully and ensure that at right times, such interactive face to face meetings are not compromised.
We talked about the exodus of information available to end users. This can at times turn out to be detrimental also and bring in damage not only to the end user but also to the community. For e.g. with mobile computing and social networking really picking steam, we see features such as location based tracking where one easily gets to know the whereabouts of various people. Users should be very careful about what information they share with whom as there have even been cases of theft, house breaking based on such information reaching wrong hands. At the very least a lot of time is wasted in accessing such information which may not be required at all for an end user. Time is money. Such time and effort, if productively used can bring in more revenue to both the end user and help improve the global economy.Granted, we’ve talked about how such access to information helps close deals, win new business and generate more money. However, there is this other side of the coin also that needs to be considered. In a nutshell, I look at mobile computing as molding clay. Whether one molds it constructively or otherwise, really depends on the user and when users at large leverage it productively, the community at large is going to benefit and we are sure to see the associated positive impacts in all walks of life.