According to the Mobile Operators Association there are now 82.7 million mobile subscriptions in the UK. That's 94 percent of adults who have a mobile phone. Plus plenty of children too!
But what effect does all this have upon the relationships between business and customer, government and citizen, employer and employee? And how can small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) harness the opportunities and benefits of simple mobile enterprise without eroding our rights to privacy and destroying online trust and confidence?
These are some of the important questions being asked ahead of E RADAR's Mobile Enterprise Summit 2014 in London, organised in partnership with the Digital Policy Alliance, Bircham Dyson Bell LLP and ICT KTN.
Security in mobile technology is an ongoing issue for government, manufacturers and users. Whilst that's great and should remain a priority for us all, what does this mean in real terms for a small enterprise, say in rural Scotland, that's unlocking new opportunities by selling its goods or services online?
For example, will a mobile telephone number replace the email address as the primary target for direct marketing? Will suppliers forge contracts with their customers solely over mobile devices? Or will a mobile device simply remain a tool to access more substantial online business systems over which the real through-transactional processing takes place?
How do we manage our privacy? Mobile devices are now an electronic extension of ourselves - they go everywhere, including the bathroom. So, unlike e-commerce governments, businesses, charities, public sector bodies, debt collection agencies, criminals and almost everyone can now enter our own personal space, at any time. Who is regulating the fine balance between law enforcement and our personal autonomy?
Figures from the Mobile Operators Association suggest that the growth in the number of SMS sent per person slowed in 2012, an average of 201 were sent per person per month, an increase of one message a month compared to 2011. This is related to increasing smartphone take-up as these devices enable consumers to access email, instant messaging services and social networking sites.
Simple mobile enterprise
What's really important to SMEs is that any contract made online is legally binding and that there's access to justice if something goes wrong. That means ensuring the proper authentication of contracting parties as well as guaranteeing the integrity and confidentiality of the transaction. In essence, legislators need to ensure that there is legal certainty around the electronic contract, including when a mobile device is used as part of the through-transacting process.
Our Mobile Enterprise Summit in March will aim to cut through the hype of doing simple mobile enterprise and give SMEs the market intelligence that they really want.
How to stay competitive in extremely challenging times!