The link between mobile working and desktop working has never been closer and this was reinforced last week with the announcement that Microsoft is to buy Nokia’s devices and services business for €5.4bn. A total of 32,000 of the Finnish company’s employees will transfer to Microsoft, including Stephen Elop, Nokia’s CEO and a former Microsoft software exec.

The move signals just how important Microsoft views the mobile market to its future success. The global multinational software company has had a close relationship with Nokia since 2011, when Nokia designated Windows Phone as Microsoft’s primary smartphone operating system. The Lumia line of Windows Phone has helped to increase sales for Windows Phone systems and been credited with boosting the platform ahead of BlackBerry into the No. 3 smartphone spot.

Although Windows Phone may be third in the mobile platform market, it is only equal to 3.7 percent of the market. In comparison Apple iOS’s has 13.2 percent with Android dominant at 79.3 percent so Microsoft’s investment in Nokia is a strategic move to gain market share in the mobile market. With current smartphone users estimated to exceed 60% of all mobile users by the end of the year, Microsoft are expected to focus on bringing top of the range devices to market and begin to eat away at Apple and Andrioid’s sizeable user base.

Over the last few years we have seen an evolution of the relationship between mobile and desktop use with remote working becoming a way of life for many employees. Indeed, it has become increasingly important to the overall efficiency, working practices and productivity of many organisations. However there is more to remote working than just a good wireless or mobile phone connection. As well as accessing and responding to email, employees need to be able to view and modify documents on the move and remain connected with colleagues and customers.

This is an area that we see as being key for Northern Ireland SMEs. The opportunity to make cost savings on efficiency, travel and infrastructure is huge. With the right IT and mobile solutions, businesses can turn cumbersome work procedures into simple tasks and free up time for staff members to move to the next task.

With Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia we will expect to see further innovative ICT/telecoms integration with video-calling and documents on the go via ‘Skydrive’ or Office 365, all accessed through the Smartphone.

The current mobile market is a very competitive stage and with many suggesting Blackberry may be on the hunt for a buyer, it is clear to see that staying ahead of the curve is increasingly difficult. What Microsoft sees in Nokia is a way to do this and over the following months it will be fascinating for all involved in the mobile and IT world to see the devices and platforms that could form crucial parts of our everyday working lives as these relationships evolve.

From Patrick Leggett, Director at Xperience Group – published in the Irish News Tuesday 17th September 2013.

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