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If your office seems a little emptier these days, you’re not alone. Employees equipped with smartphones, laptops and wireless Internet connections are increasingly ditching their desks for their homes, cars or cafés.

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If your office seems a little emptier these days, you’re not alone. Employees equipped with smartphones, laptops and wireless Internet connections are increasingly ditching their desks for their homes, cars or cafés. Framingham, Mass.-based market research firm IDC predicts that by 2013, mobile workers—be they work-at-home types, part-time office denizens or on-the-go specialists—will number almost 1.2 billion, or 35% of the global workforce, up from 919 million in 2008. And a recent joint survey by Microsoft Canada and Ipsos-Reid found that 87% of Canadians are seeking technology that helps them do their job in any location.

“People are looking for ways to get more done, so there has been a shift in how we look at productivity,” says Ken Nickerson, Toronto-based CEO of tech research and investment firm iBinary LLC. “If you’re awake and have a computer in your hand, you might be able to do something of value—regardless of where you are.”

Employers need help managing the shift to mobile. Bruce Dow, an associate partner with IBM in Toronto specializing in mobility and change management, says this requires making changes in culture, technology, processes and real estate: “If entrepreneurs can understand those four areas and find where companies have gaps, they’ll find opportunity.”

Build a better app

Mobile workers need software that lets them carry out important tasks wherever they are. Yet, for the past few years, app developers have largely focused on the consumer side. They’ve left plenty of room for user-friendly, professional-grade business offerings to help on-the-go staff in areas such as HR (e.g., software they can use to update vacation or sick days remotely at the touch of a button), accounts payable, procurement and sales management. In general, the more tailored an app is toward a specific industry or function, the better it will be received, says Gene Signorini, vice-president at Boston-based Yankee Group, a consultancy specializing in technology-enabled mobility.

Jonathan Defoy, CEO of Montreal-based Biztree Inc.—which recently created a web-based app for Business-in-a-Box, its business-document development software—says there’s also an opening for app developers to piggyback off the giants. “Instead of trying to replace something like Skype, create an app that can really improve the Skype experience for remote workers in specific industries,” he suggests. This will give you an automatic channel through which to sell your wares—and, if you’re successful, there’s a good chance you can sell your firm to the company your app supports.

Sell services to the small guys

Daniel Burrus, Milwaukee-based author of Flash Foresight: How to See the Invisible and Do the Impossible, says the ascent of the mobile workforce has been made possible by increased processing power, data storage and bandwidth. So, it’s no surprise that wireless infrastructure development is white-hot, with virtually every player in the sector in serious expansion mode. Upinder Saini, vice-president of new product development at Rogers Wireless Inc., says that when it comes to supporting the extreme popularity of data-guzzling, web-connected devices like smartphones and tablet PCs, “It’s difficult to keep up with the demand that’s out there.” That’s why wireless operators are undertaking huge upgrades to, among other things, expand coverage areas and prepare for 4G mobile devices. This will ratchet up demand for subcontractors for everything from tower repair to installation. Getting in on this game is no mean feat; most of the large wireless carriers that dominate the sector turn to a small group of trusted suppliers to do their fieldwork, says Iain Grant, Montreal-based principal analyst at the SeaBoard Group, a telecommunications consultancy. Still, he says, there is an opportunity for smaller firms: providing services to these suppliers. That could be anything from software to track the status of wireless towers in remote areas to new technology consultation services.

Even more promising opportunities lie with the new carriers launched since the CRTC’s major auction of wireless spectrum in 2008. Lacking the 20 years-plus head start of Rogers, Bell and Telus, the upstarts are working to expand their networks at a breakneck pace, says Grant, and need support in both hardware and software.

What are their specific needs? That varies so widely by carrier that you’ll need to develop individual relationships with them to figure that out. But, with far fewer in-house resources than the big players, they need an array of help. And, with another spectrum auction expected in 2012, now is a good time to position your firm as a friend of smaller carriers.

Support the virtual workplace

Professional-services firms can profit by meeting the multiple support needs of firms with mobile workers. Expect high demand for training firms that help bosses learn to manage workers who aren’t in front of them, and for consultants who can help revise business-continuity plans, such as what to do if a wireless network goes down.

Flexible IT services will also be hot, says Nickerson, as companies look to replace 9-to-5 IT departments with 24-hour remote on-demand support. He adds that there will be a greater need for mobile-friendly security services—including remote disablement and backup storage—since employees are far more likely to compromise or lose data on a smartphone or laptop than on a desktop.

Another possibility is to help firms reorganize and reconfigure their office space to accommodate fewer people in the building. Many companies are moving toward “hotelling,” replacing defined cubicles with communal workspaces; when a teleworker does come into the office, she picks an open space and works from it. Dow says this “space on demand” model saves on real estate costs. “When companies really look at it, they see that their space is only 40% to 50% utilized, because people are working offsite,” he says. “There is room for design firms to help them create highly collaborative and open spaces.”

If you have expertise in several of these areas, you’re in luck. Richard Worzel, a Toronto-based futurist, says that many larger companies are interested in hiring “integrators” to coordinate their entire mobile-workforce transformation, from software to training to real estate. “Many companies need assistance putting all the pieces together,” says Worzel. “And that’s worth something.”

 

If your office seems a little emptier these days, you’re not alone. Employees equipped with smartphones, laptops and wireless Internet connections are increasingly ditching their desks for their homes, cars or cafés. Framingham, Mass.-based market research firm IDC predicts that by 2013, mobile workers—be they work-at-home types, part-time office denizens or on-the-go specialists—will number almost 1.2 billion, or 35% of the global workforce, up from 919 million in 2008. And a recent joint survey by Microsoft Canada and Ipsos-Reid found that 87% of Canadians are seeking technology that helps them do their job in any location.

“People are looking for ways to get more done, so there has been a shift in how we look at productivity,” says Ken Nickerson, Toronto-based CEO of tech research and investment firm iBinary LLC. “If you’re awake and have a computer in your hand, you might be able to do something of value—regardless of where you are.”

Employers need help managing the shift to mobile. Bruce Dow, an associate partner with IBM in Toronto specializing in mobility and change management, says this requires making changes in culture, technology, processes and real estate: “If entrepreneurs can understand those four areas and find where companies have gaps, they’ll find opportunity.”

Build a better app

Mobile workers need software that lets them carry out important tasks wherever they are. Yet, for the past few years, app developers have largely focused on the consumer side. They’ve left plenty of room for user-friendly, professional-grade business offerings to help on-the-go staff in areas such as HR (e.g., software they can use to update vacation or sick days remotely at the touch of a button), accounts payable, procurement and sales management. In general, the more tailored an app is toward a specific industry or function, the better it will be received, says Gene Signorini, vice-president at Boston-based Yankee Group, a consultancy specializing in technology-enabled mobility.

Jonathan Defoy, CEO of Montreal-based Biztree Inc.—which recently created a web-based app for Business-in-a-Box, its business-document development software—says there’s also an opening for app developers to piggyback off the giants. “Instead of trying to replace something like Skype, create an app that can really improve the Skype experience for remote workers in specific industries,” he suggests. This will give you an automatic channel through which to sell your wares—and, if you’re successful, there’s a good chance you can sell your firm to the company your app supports.

Sell services to the small guys

Daniel Burrus, Milwaukee-based author of Flash Foresight: How to See the Invisible and Do the Impossible, says the ascent of the mobile workforce has been made possible by increased processing power, data storage and bandwidth. So, it’s no surprise that wireless infrastructure development is white-hot, with virtually every player in the sector in serious expansion mode. Upinder Saini, vice-president of new product development at Rogers Wireless Inc., says that when it comes to supporting the extreme popularity of data-guzzling, web-connected devices like smartphones and tablet PCs, “It’s difficult to keep up with the demand that’s out there.” That’s why wireless operators are undertaking huge upgrades to, among other things, expand coverage areas and prepare for 4G mobile devices. This will ratchet up demand for subcontractors for everything from tower repair to installation. Getting in on this game is no mean feat; most of the large wireless carriers that dominate the sector turn to a small group of trusted suppliers to do their fieldwork, says Iain Grant, Montreal-based principal analyst at the SeaBoard Group, a telecommunications consultancy. Still, he says, there is an opportunity for smaller firms: providing services to these suppliers. That could be anything from software to track the status of wireless towers in remote areas to new technology consultation services.

Even more promising opportunities lie with the new carriers launched since the CRTC’s major auction of wireless spectrum in 2008. Lacking the 20 years-plus head start of Rogers, Bell and Telus, the upstarts are working to expand their networks at a breakneck pace, says Grant, and need support in both hardware and software.

What are their specific needs? That varies so widely by carrier that you’ll need to develop individual relationships with them to figure that out. But, with far fewer in-house resources than the big players, they need an array of help. And, with another spectrum auction expected in 2012, now is a good time to position your firm as a friend of smaller carriers.

Support the virtual workplace

Professional-services firms can profit by meeting the multiple support needs of firms with mobile workers. Expect high demand for training firms that help bosses learn to manage workers who aren’t in front of them, and for consultants who can help revise business-continuity plans, such as what to do if a wireless network goes down.

Flexible IT services will also be hot, says Nickerson, as companies look to replace 9-to-5 IT departments with 24-hour remote on-demand support. He adds that there will be a greater need for mobile-friendly security services—including remote disablement and backup storage—since employees are far more likely to compromise or lose data on a smartphone or laptop than on a desktop.

Another possibility is to help firms reorganize and reconfigure their office space to accommodate fewer people in the building. Many companies are moving toward “hotelling,” replacing defined cubicles with communal workspaces; when a teleworker does come into the office, she picks an open space and works from it. Dow says this “space on demand” model saves on real estate costs. “When companies really look at it, they see that their space is only 40% to 50% utilized, because people are working offsite,” he says. “There is room for design firms to help them create highly collaborative and open spaces.”

If you have expertise in several of these areas, you’re in luck. Richard Worzel, a Toronto-based futurist, says that many larger companies are interested in hiring “integrators” to coordinate their entire mobile-workforce transformation, from software to training to real estate. “Many companies need assistance putting all the pieces together,” says Worzel. “And that’s worth something.”

 

If your office seems a little emptier these days, you’re not alone. Employees equipped with smartphones, laptops and wireless Internet connections are increasingly ditching their desks for their homes, cars or cafés. Framingham, Mass.-based market research firm IDC predicts that by 2013, mobile workers—be they work-at-home types, part-time office denizens or on-the-go specialists—will number almost 1.2 billion, or 35% of the global workforce, up from 919 million in 2008. And a recent joint survey by Microsoft Canada and Ipsos-Reid found that 87% of Canadians are seeking technology that helps them do their job in any location.

“People are looking for ways to get more done, so there has been a shift in how we look at productivity,” says Ken Nickerson, Toronto-based CEO of tech research and investment firm iBinary LLC. “If you’re awake and have a computer in your hand, you might be able to do something of value—regardless of where you are.”

Employers need help managing the shift to mobile. Bruce Dow, an associate partner with IBM in Toronto specializing in mobility and change management, says this requires making changes in culture, technology, processes and real estate: “If entrepreneurs can understand those four areas and find where companies have gaps, they’ll find opportunity.”

Build a better app

Mobile workers need software that lets them carry out important tasks wherever they are. Yet, for the past few years, app developers have largely focused on the consumer side. They’ve left plenty of room for user-friendly, professional-grade business offerings to help on-the-go staff in areas such as HR (e.g., software they can use to update vacation or sick days remotely at the touch of a button), accounts payable, procurement and sales management. In general, the more tailored an app is toward a specific industry or function, the better it will be received, says Gene Signorini, vice-president at Boston-based Yankee Group, a consultancy specializing in technology-enabled mobility.

Jonathan Defoy, CEO of Montreal-based Biztree Inc.—which recently created a web-based app for Business-in-a-Box, its business-document development software—says there’s also an opening for app developers to piggyback off the giants. “Instead of trying to replace something like Skype, create an app that can really improve the Skype experience for remote workers in specific industries,” he suggests. This will give you an automatic channel through which to sell your wares—and, if you’re successful, there’s a good chance you can sell your firm to the company your app supports.

Sell services to the small guys

Daniel Burrus, Milwaukee-based author of Flash Foresight: How to See the Invisible and Do the Impossible, says the ascent of the mobile workforce has been made possible by increased processing power, data storage and bandwidth. So, it’s no surprise that wireless infrastructure development is white-hot, with virtually every player in the sector in serious expansion mode. Upinder Saini, vice-president of new product development at Rogers Wireless Inc., says that when it comes to supporting the extreme popularity of data-guzzling, web-connected devices like smartphones and tablet PCs, “It’s difficult to keep up with the demand that’s out there.” That’s why wireless operators are undertaking huge upgrades to, among other things, expand coverage areas and prepare for 4G mobile devices. This will ratchet up demand for subcontractors for everything from tower repair to installation. Getting in on this game is no mean feat; most of the large wireless carriers that dominate the sector turn to a small group of trusted suppliers to do their fieldwork, says Iain Grant, Montreal-based principal analyst at the SeaBoard Group, a telecommunications consultancy. Still, he says, there is an opportunity for smaller firms: providing services to these suppliers. That could be anything from software to track the status of wireless towers in remote areas to new technology consultation services.

Even more promising opportunities lie with the new carriers launched since the CRTC’s major auction of wireless spectrum in 2008. Lacking the 20 years-plus head start of Rogers, Bell and Telus, the upstarts are working to expand their networks at a breakneck pace, says Grant, and need support in both hardware and software.

What are their specific needs? That varies so widely by carrier that you’ll need to develop individual relationships with them to figure that out. But, with far fewer in-house resources than the big players, they need an array of help. And, with another spectrum auction expected in 2012, now is a good time to position your firm as a friend of smaller carriers.

Support the virtual workplace

Professional-services firms can profit by meeting the multiple support needs of firms with mobile workers. Expect high demand for training firms that help bosses learn to manage workers who aren’t in front of them, and for consultants who can help revise business-continuity plans, such as what to do if a wireless network goes down.

Flexible IT services will also be hot, says Nickerson, as companies look to replace 9-to-5 IT departments with 24-hour remote on-demand support. He adds that there will be a greater need for mobile-friendly security services—including remote disablement and backup storage—since employees are far more likely to compromise or lose data on a smartphone or laptop than on a desktop.

Another possibility is to help firms reorganize and reconfigure their office space to accommodate fewer people in the building. Many companies are moving toward “hotelling,” replacing defined cubicles with communal workspaces; when a teleworker does come into the office, she picks an open space and works from it. Dow says this “space on demand” model saves on real estate costs. “When companies really look at it, they see that their space is only 40% to 50% utilized, because people are working offsite,” he says. “There is room for design firms to help them create highly collaborative and open spaces.”

If you have expertise in several of these areas, you’re in luck. Richard Worzel, a Toronto-based futurist, says that many larger companies are interested in hiring “integrators” to coordinate their entire mobile-workforce transformation, from software to training to real estate. “Many companies need assistance putting all the pieces together,” says Worzel. “And that’s worth something.”

If your office seems a little emptier these days, you’re not alone. Employees equipped with smartphones, laptops and wireless Internet connections are increasingly ditching their desks for their homes, cars or cafés. Framingham, Mass.-based market research firm IDC predicts that by 2013, mobile workers—be they work-at-home types, part-time office denizens or on-the-go specialists—will number almost 1.2 billion, or 35% of the global workforce, up from 919 million in 2008. And a recent joint survey by Microsoft Canada and Ipsos-Reid found that 87% of Canadians are seeking technology that helps them do their job in any location.

“People are looking for ways to get more done, so there has been a shift in how we look at productivity,” says Ken Nickerson, Toronto-based CEO of tech research and investment firm iBinary LLC. “If you’re awake and have a computer in your hand, you might be able to do something of value—regardless of where you are.”

Employers need help managing the shift to mobile. Bruce Dow, an associate partner with IBM in Toronto specializing in mobility and change management, says this requires making changes in culture, technology, processes and real estate: “If entrepreneurs can understand those four areas and find where companies have gaps, they’ll find opportunity.”

Build a better app

Mobile workers need software that lets them carry out important tasks wherever they are. Yet, for the past few years, app developers have largely focused on the consumer side. They’ve left plenty of room for user-friendly, professional-grade business offerings to help on-the-go staff in areas such as HR (e.g., software they can use to update vacation or sick days remotely at the touch of a button), accounts payable, procurement and sales management. In general, the more tailored an app is toward a specific industry or function, the better it will be received, says Gene Signorini, vice-president at Boston-based Yankee Group, a consultancy specializing in technology-enabled mobility.

Jonathan Defoy, CEO of Montreal-based Biztree Inc.—which recently created a web-based app for Business-in-a-Box, its business-document development software—says there’s also an opening for app developers to piggyback off the giants. “Instead of trying to replace something like Skype, create an app that can really improve the Skype experience for remote workers in specific industries,” he suggests. This will give you an automatic channel through which to sell your wares—and, if you’re successful, there’s a good chance you can sell your firm to the company your app supports.

Sell services to the small guys

Daniel Burrus, Milwaukee-based author of Flash Foresight: How to See the Invisible and Do the Impossible, says the ascent of the mobile workforce has been made possible by increased processing power, data storage and bandwidth. So, it’s no surprise that wireless infrastructure development is white-hot, with virtually every player in the sector in serious expansion mode. Upinder Saini, vice-president of new product development at Rogers Wireless Inc., says that when it comes to supporting the extreme popularity of data-guzzling, web-connected devices like smartphones and tablet PCs, “It’s difficult to keep up with the demand that’s out there.” That’s why wireless operators are undertaking huge upgrades to, among other things, expand coverage areas and prepare for 4G mobile devices. This will ratchet up demand for subcontractors for everything from tower repair to installation. Getting in on this game is no mean feat; most of the large wireless carriers that dominate the sector turn to a small group of trusted suppliers to do their fieldwork, says Iain Grant, Montreal-based principal analyst at the SeaBoard Group, a telecommunications consultancy. Still, he says, there is an opportunity for smaller firms: providing services to these suppliers. That could be anything from software to track the status of wireless towers in remote areas to new technology consultation services.

Even more promising opportunities lie with the new carriers launched since the CRTC’s major auction of wireless spectrum in 2008. Lacking the 20 years-plus head start of Rogers, Bell and Telus, the upstarts are working to expand their networks at a breakneck pace, says Grant, and need support in both hardware and software.

What are their specific needs? That varies so widely by carrier that you’ll need to develop individual relationships with them to figure that out. But, with far fewer in-house resources than the big players, they need an array of help. And, with another spectrum auction expected in 2012, now is a good time to position your firm as a friend of smaller carriers.

Support the virtual workplace

Professional-services firms can profit by meeting the multiple support needs of firms with mobile workers. Expect high demand for training firms that help bosses learn to manage workers who aren’t in front of them, and for consultants who can help revise business-continuity plans, such as what to do if a wireless network goes down.

Flexible IT services will also be hot, says Nickerson, as companies look to replace 9-to-5 IT departments with 24-hour remote on-demand support. He adds that there will be a greater need for mobile-friendly security services—including remote disablement and backup storage—since employees are far more likely to compromise or lose data on a smartphone or laptop than on a desktop.

Another possibility is to help firms reorganize and reconfigure their office space to accommodate fewer people in the building. Many companies are moving toward “hotelling,” replacing defined cubicles with communal workspaces; when a teleworker does come into the office, she picks an open space and works from it. Dow says this “space on demand” model saves on real estate costs. “When companies really look at it, they see that their space is only 40% to 50% utilized, because people are working offsite,” he says. “There is room for design firms to help them create highly collaborative and open spaces.”

If you have expertise in several of these areas, you’re in luck. Richard Worzel, a Toronto-based futurist, says that many larger companies are interested in hiring “integrators” to coordinate their entire mobile-workforce transformation, from software to training to real estate. “Many companies need assistance putting all the pieces together,” says Worzel. “And that’s worth something.”

 

If your office seems a little emptier these days, you’re not alone. Employees equipped with smartphones, laptops and wireless Internet connections are increasingly ditching their desks for their homes, cars or cafés. Framingham, Mass.-based market research firm IDC predicts that by 2013, mobile workers—be they work-at-home types, part-time office denizens or on-the-go specialists—will number almost 1.2 billion, or 35% of the global workforce, up from 919 million in 2008. And a recent joint survey by Microsoft Canada and Ipsos-Reid found that 87% of Canadians are seeking technology that helps them do their job in any location.

“People are looking for ways to get more done, so there has been a shift in how we look at productivity,” says Ken Nickerson, Toronto-based CEO of tech research and investment firm iBinary LLC. “If you’re awake and have a computer in your hand, you might be able to do something of value—regardless of where you are.”

Employers need help managing the shift to mobile. Bruce Dow, an associate partner with IBM in Toronto specializing in mobility and change management, says this requires making changes in culture, technology, processes and real estate: “If entrepreneurs can understand those four areas and find where companies have gaps, they’ll find opportunity.”

Build a better app

Mobile workers need software that lets them carry out important tasks wherever they are. Yet, for the past few years, app developers have largely focused on the consumer side. They’ve left plenty of room for user-friendly, professional-grade business offerings to help on-the-go staff in areas such as HR (e.g., software they can use to update vacation or sick days remotely at the touch of a button), accounts payable, procurement and sales management. In general, the more tailored an app is toward a specific industry or function, the better it will be received, says Gene Signorini, vice-president at Boston-based Yankee Group, a consultancy specializing in technology-enabled mobility.

Jonathan Defoy, CEO of Montreal-based Biztree Inc.—which recently created a web-based app for Business-in-a-Box, its business-document development software—says there’s also an opening for app developers to piggyback off the giants. “Instead of trying to replace something like Skype, create an app that can really improve the Skype experience for remote workers in specific industries,” he suggests. This will give you an automatic channel through which to sell your wares—and, if you’re successful, there’s a good chance you can sell your firm to the company your app supports.

Sell services to the small guys

Daniel Burrus, Milwaukee-based author of Flash Foresight: How to See the Invisible and Do the Impossible, says the ascent of the mobile workforce has been made possible by increased processing power, data storage and bandwidth. So, it’s no surprise that wireless infrastructure development is white-hot, with virtually every player in the sector in serious expansion mode. Upinder Saini, vice-president of new product development at Rogers Wireless Inc., says that when it comes to supporting the extreme popularity of data-guzzling, web-connected devices like smartphones and tablet PCs, “It’s difficult to keep up with the demand that’s out there.” That’s why wireless operators are undertaking huge upgrades to, among other things, expand coverage areas and prepare for 4G mobile devices. This will ratchet up demand for subcontractors for everything from tower repair to installation. Getting in on this game is no mean feat; most of the large wireless carriers that dominate the sector turn to a small group of trusted suppliers to do their fieldwork, says Iain Grant, Montreal-based principal analyst at the SeaBoard Group, a telecommunications consultancy. Still, he says, there is an opportunity for smaller firms: providing services to these suppliers. That could be anything from software to track the status of wireless towers in remote areas to new technology consultation services.

Even more promising opportunities lie with the new carriers launched since the CRTC’s major auction of wireless spectrum in 2008. Lacking the 20 years-plus head start of Rogers, Bell and Telus, the upstarts are working to expand their networks at a breakneck pace, says Grant, and need support in both hardware and software.

What are their specific needs? That varies so widely by carrier that you’ll need to develop individual relationships with them to figure that out. But, with far fewer in-house resources than the big players, they need an array of help. And, with another spectrum auction expected in 2012, now is a good time to position your firm as a friend of smaller carriers.

Support the virtual workplace

Professional-services firms can profit by meeting the multiple support needs of firms with mobile workers. Expect high demand for training firms that help bosses learn to manage workers who aren’t in front of them, and for consultants who can help revise business-continuity plans, such as what to do if a wireless network goes down.

Flexible IT services will also be hot, says Nickerson, as companies look to replace 9-to-5 IT departments with 24-hour remote on-demand support. He adds that there will be a greater need for mobile-friendly security services—including remote disablement and backup storage—since employees are far more likely to compromise or lose data on a smartphone or laptop than on a desktop.

Another possibility is to help firms reorganize and reconfigure their office space to accommodate fewer people in the building. Many companies are moving toward “hotelling,” replacing defined cubicles with communal workspaces; when a teleworker does come into the office, she picks an open space and works from it. Dow says this “space on demand” model saves on real estate costs. “When companies really look at it, they see that their space is only 40% to 50% utilized, because people are working offsite,” he says. “There is room for design firms to help them create highly collaborative and open spaces.”

If you have expertise in several of these areas, you’re in luck. Richard Worzel, a Toronto-based futurist, says that many larger companies are interested in hiring “integrators” to coordinate their entire mobile-workforce transformation, from software to training to real estate. “Many companies need assistance putting all the pieces together,” says Worzel. “And that’s worth something.”

 

If your office seems a little emptier these days, you’re not alone. Employees equipped with smartphones, laptops and wireless Internet connections are increasingly ditching their desks for their homes, cars or cafés. Framingham, Mass.-based market research firm IDC predicts that by 2013, mobile workers—be they work-at-home types, part-time office denizens or on-the-go specialists—will number almost 1.2 billion, or 35% of the global workforce, up from 919 million in 2008. And a recent joint survey by Microsoft Canada and Ipsos-Reid found that 87% of Canadians are seeking technology that helps them do their job in any location.

“People are looking for ways to get more done, so there has been a shift in how we look at productivity,” says Ken Nickerson, Toronto-based CEO of tech research and investment firm iBinary LLC. “If you’re awake and have a computer in your hand, you might be able to do something of value—regardless of where you are.”

Employers need help managing the shift to mobile. Bruce Dow, an associate partner with IBM in Toronto specializing in mobility and change management, says this requires making changes in culture, technology, processes and real estate: “If entrepreneurs can understand those four areas and find where companies have gaps, they’ll find opportunity.”

Build a better app

Mobile workers need software that lets them carry out important tasks wherever they are. Yet, for the past few years, app developers have largely focused on the consumer side. They’ve left plenty of room for user-friendly, professional-grade business offerings to help on-the-go staff in areas such as HR (e.g., software they can use to update vacation or sick days remotely at the touch of a button), accounts payable, procurement and sales management. In general, the more tailored an app is toward a specific industry or function, the better it will be received, says Gene Signorini, vice-president at Boston-based Yankee Group, a consultancy specializing in technology-enabled mobility.

Jonathan Defoy, CEO of Montreal-based Biztree Inc.—which recently created a web-based app for Business-in-a-Box, its business-document development software—says there’s also an opening for app developers to piggyback off the giants. “Instead of trying to replace something like Skype, create an app that can really improve the Skype experience for remote workers in specific industries,” he suggests. This will give you an automatic channel through which to sell your wares—and, if you’re successful, there’s a good chance you can sell your firm to the company your app supports.

Sell services to the small guys

Daniel Burrus, Milwaukee-based author of Flash Foresight: How to See the Invisible and Do the Impossible, says the ascent of the mobile workforce has been made possible by increased processing power, data storage and bandwidth. So, it’s no surprise that wireless infrastructure development is white-hot, with virtually every player in the sector in serious expansion mode. Upinder Saini, vice-president of new product development at Rogers Wireless Inc., says that when it comes to supporting the extreme popularity of data-guzzling, web-connected devices like smartphones and tablet PCs, “It’s difficult to keep up with the demand that’s out there.” That’s why wireless operators are undertaking huge upgrades to, among other things, expand coverage areas and prepare for 4G mobile devices. This will ratchet up demand for subcontractors for everything from tower repair to installation. Getting in on this game is no mean feat; most of the large wireless carriers that dominate the sector turn to a small group of trusted suppliers to do their fieldwork, says Iain Grant, Montreal-based principal analyst at the SeaBoard Group, a telecommunications consultancy. Still, he says, there is an opportunity for smaller firms: providing services to these suppliers. That could be anything from software to track the status of wireless towers in remote areas to new technology consultation services.

Even more promising opportunities lie with the new carriers launched since the CRTC’s major auction of wireless spectrum in 2008. Lacking the 20 years-plus head start of Rogers, Bell and Telus, the upstarts are working to expand their networks at a breakneck pace, says Grant, and need support in both hardware and software.

What are their specific needs? That varies so widely by carrier that you’ll need to develop individual relationships with them to figure that out. But, with far fewer in-house resources than the big players, they need an array of help. And, with another spectrum auction expected in 2012, now is a good time to position your firm as a friend of smaller carriers.

Support the virtual workplace

Professional-services firms can profit by meeting the multiple support needs of firms with mobile workers. Expect high demand for training firms that help bosses learn to manage workers who aren’t in front of them, and for consultants who can help revise business-continuity plans, such as what to do if a wireless network goes down.

Flexible IT services will also be hot, says Nickerson, as companies look to replace 9-to-5 IT departments with 24-hour remote on-demand support. He adds that there will be a greater need for mobile-friendly security services—including remote disablement and backup storage—since employees are far more likely to compromise or lose data on a smartphone or laptop than on a desktop.

Another possibility is to help firms reorganize and reconfigure their office space to accommodate fewer people in the building. Many companies are moving toward “hotelling,” replacing defined cubicles with communal workspaces; when a teleworker does come into the office, she picks an open space and works from it. Dow says this “space on demand” model saves on real estate costs. “When companies really look at it, they see that their space is only 40% to 50% utilized, because people are working offsite,” he says. “There is room for design firms to help them create highly collaborative and open spaces.”

If you have expertise in several of these areas, you’re in luck. Richard Worzel, a Toronto-based futurist, says that many larger companies are interested in hiring “integrators” to coordinate their entire mobile-workforce transformation, from software to training to real estate. “Many companies need assistance putting all the pieces together,” says Worzel. “And that’s worth something.”

If your office seems a little emptier these days, you’re not alone. Employees equipped with smartphones, laptops and wireless Internet connections are increasingly ditching their desks for their homes, cars or cafés. Framingham, Mass.-based market research firm IDC predicts that by 2013, mobile workers—be they work-at-home types, part-time office denizens or on-the-go specialists—will number almost 1.2 billion, or 35% of the global workforce, up from 919 million in 2008. And a recent joint survey by Microsoft Canada and Ipsos-Reid found that 87% of Canadians are seeking technology that helps them do their job in any location.

“People are looking for ways to get more done, so there has been a shift in how we look at productivity,” says Ken Nickerson, Toronto-based CEO of tech research and investment firm iBinary LLC. “If you’re awake and have a computer in your hand, you might be able to do something of value—regardless of where you are.”

Employers need help managing the shift to mobile. Bruce Dow, an associate partner with IBM in Toronto specializing in mobility and change management, says this requires making changes in culture, technology, processes and real estate: “If entrepreneurs can understand those four areas and find where companies have gaps, they’ll find opportunity.”

Build a better app

Mobile workers need software that lets them carry out important tasks wherever they are. Yet, for the past few years, app developers have largely focused on the consumer side. They’ve left plenty of room for user-friendly, professional-grade business offerings to help on-the-go staff in areas such as HR (e.g., software they can use to update vacation or sick days remotely at the touch of a button), accounts payable, procurement and sales management. In general, the more tailored an app is toward a specific industry or function, the better it will be received, says Gene Signorini, vice-president at Boston-based Yankee Group, a consultancy specializing in technology-enabled mobility.

Jonathan Defoy, CEO of Montreal-based Biztree Inc.—which recently created a web-based app for Business-in-a-Box, its business-document development software—says there’s also an opening for app developers to piggyback off the giants. “Instead of trying to replace something like Skype, create an app that can really improve the Skype experience for remote workers in specific industries,” he suggests. This will give you an automatic channel through which to sell your wares—and, if you’re successful, there’s a good chance you can sell your firm to the company your app supports.

Sell services to the small guys

Daniel Burrus, Milwaukee-based author of Flash Foresight: How to See the Invisible and Do the Impossible, says the ascent of the mobile workforce has been made possible by increased processing power, data storage and bandwidth. So, it’s no surprise that wireless infrastructure development is white-hot, with virtually every player in the sector in serious expansion mode. Upinder Saini, vice-president of new product development at Rogers Wireless Inc., says that when it comes to supporting the extreme popularity of data-guzzling, web-connected devices like smartphones and tablet PCs, “It’s difficult to keep up with the demand that’s out there.” That’s why wireless operators are undertaking huge upgrades to, among other things, expand coverage areas and prepare for 4G mobile devices. This will ratchet up demand for subcontractors for everything from tower repair to installation. Getting in on this game is no mean feat; most of the large wireless carriers that dominate the sector turn to a small group of trusted suppliers to do their fieldwork, says Iain Grant, Montreal-based principal analyst at the SeaBoard Group, a telecommunications consultancy. Still, he says, there is an opportunity for smaller firms: providing services to these suppliers. That could be anything from software to track the status of wireless towers in remote areas to new technology consultation services.

Even more promising opportunities lie with the new carriers launched since the CRTC’s major auction of wireless spectrum in 2008. Lacking the 20 years-plus head start of Rogers, Bell and Telus, the upstarts are working to expand their networks at a breakneck pace, says Grant, and need support in both hardware and software.

What are their specific needs? That varies so widely by carrier that you’ll need to develop individual relationships with them to figure that out. But, with far fewer in-house resources than the big players, they need an array of help. And, with another spectrum auction expected in 2012, now is a good time to position your firm as a friend of smaller carriers.

Support the virtual workplace

Professional-services firms can profit by meeting the multiple support needs of firms with mobile workers. Expect high demand for training firms that help bosses learn to manage workers who aren’t in front of them, and for consultants who can help revise business-continuity plans, such as what to do if a wireless network goes down.

Flexible IT services will also be hot, says Nickerson, as companies look to replace 9-to-5 IT departments with 24-hour remote on-demand support. He adds that there will be a greater need for mobile-friendly security services—including remote disablement and backup storage—since employees are far more likely to compromise or lose data on a smartphone or laptop than on a desktop.

Another possibility is to help firms reorganize and reconfigure their office space to accommodate fewer people in the building. Many companies are moving toward “hotelling,” replacing defined cubicles with communal workspaces; when a teleworker does come into the office, she picks an open space and works from it. Dow says this “space on demand” model saves on real estate costs. “When companies really look at it, they see that their space is only 40% to 50% utilized, because people are working offsite,” he says. “There is room for design firms to help them create highly collaborative and open spaces.”

If you have expertise in several of these areas, you’re in luck. Richard Worzel, a Toronto-based futurist, says that many larger companies are interested in hiring “integrators” to coordinate their entire mobile-workforce transformation, from software to training to real estate. “Many companies need assistance putting all the pieces together,” says Worzel. “And that’s worth something.”

 

If your office seems a little emptier these days, you’re not alone. Employees equipped with smartphones, laptops and wireless Internet connections are increasingly ditching their desks for their homes, cars or cafés. Framingham, Mass.-based market research firm IDC predicts that by 2013, mobile workers—be they work-at-home types, part-time office denizens or on-the-go specialists—will number almost 1.2 billion, or 35% of the global workforce, up from 919 million in 2008. And a recent joint survey by Microsoft Canada and Ipsos-Reid found that 87% of Canadians are seeking technology that helps them do their job in any location.

“People are looking for ways to get more done, so there has been a shift in how we look at productivity,” says Ken Nickerson, Toronto-based CEO of tech research and investment firm iBinary LLC. “If you’re awake and have a computer in your hand, you might be able to do something of value—regardless of where you are.”

Employers need help managing the shift to mobile. Bruce Dow, an associate partner with IBM in Toronto specializing in mobility and change management, says this requires making changes in culture, technology, processes and real estate: “If entrepreneurs can understand those four areas and find where companies have gaps, they’ll find opportunity.”

Build a better app

Mobile workers need software that lets them carry out important tasks wherever they are. Yet, for the past few years, app developers have largely focused on the consumer side. They’ve left plenty of room for user-friendly, professional-grade business offerings to help on-the-go staff in areas such as HR (e.g., software they can use to update vacation or sick days remotely at the touch of a button), accounts payable, procurement and sales management. In general, the more tailored an app is toward a specific industry or function, the better it will be received, says Gene Signorini, vice-president at Boston-based Yankee Group, a consultancy specializing in technology-enabled mobility.

Jonathan Defoy, CEO of Montreal-based Biztree Inc.—which recently created a web-based app for Business-in-a-Box, its business-document development software—says there’s also an opening for app developers to piggyback off the giants. “Instead of trying to replace something like Skype, create an app that can really improve the Skype experience for remote workers in specific industries,” he suggests. This will give you an automatic channel through which to sell your wares—and, if you’re successful, there’s a good chance you can sell your firm to the company your app supports.

Sell services to the small guys

Daniel Burrus, Milwaukee-based author of Flash Foresight: How to See the Invisible and Do the Impossible, says the ascent of the mobile workforce has been made possible by increased processing power, data storage and bandwidth. So, it’s no surprise that wireless infrastructure development is white-hot, with virtually every player in the sector in serious expansion mode. Upinder Saini, vice-president of new product development at Rogers Wireless Inc., says that when it comes to supporting the extreme popularity of data-guzzling, web-connected devices like smartphones and tablet PCs, “It’s difficult to keep up with the demand that’s out there.” That’s why wireless operators are undertaking huge upgrades to, among other things, expand coverage areas and prepare for 4G mobile devices. This will ratchet up demand for subcontractors for everything from tower repair to installation. Getting in on this game is no mean feat; most of the large wireless carriers that dominate the sector turn to a small group of trusted suppliers to do their fieldwork, says Iain Grant, Montreal-based principal analyst at the SeaBoard Group, a telecommunications consultancy. Still, he says, there is an opportunity for smaller firms: providing services to these suppliers. That could be anything from software to track the status of wireless towers in remote areas to new technology consultation services.

Even more promising opportunities lie with the new carriers launched since the CRTC’s major auction of wireless spectrum in 2008. Lacking the 20 years-plus head start of Rogers, Bell and Telus, the upstarts are working to expand their networks at a breakneck pace, says Grant, and need support in both hardware and software.

What are their specific needs? That varies so widely by carrier that you’ll need to develop individual relationships with them to figure that out. But, with far fewer in-house resources than the big players, they need an array of help. And, with another spectrum auction expected in 2012, now is a good time to position your firm as a friend of smaller carriers.

Support the virtual workplace

Professional-services firms can profit by meeting the multiple support needs of firms with mobile workers. Expect high demand for training firms that help bosses learn to manage workers who aren’t in front of them, and for consultants who can help revise business-continuity plans, such as what to do if a wireless network goes down.

Flexible IT services will also be hot, says Nickerson, as companies look to replace 9-to-5 IT departments with 24-hour remote on-demand support. He adds that there will be a greater need for mobile-friendly security services—including remote disablement and backup storage—since employees are far more likely to compromise or lose data on a smartphone or laptop than on a desktop.

Another possibility is to help firms reorganize and reconfigure their office space to accommodate fewer people in the building. Many companies are moving toward “hotelling,” replacing defined cubicles with communal workspaces; when a teleworker does come into the office, she picks an open space and works from it. Dow says this “space on demand” model saves on real estate costs. “When companies really look at it, they see that their space is only 40% to 50% utilized, because people are working offsite,” he says. “There is room for design firms to help them create highly collaborative and open spaces.”

If you have expertise in several of these areas, you’re in luck. Richard Worzel, a Toronto-based futurist, says that many larger companies are interested in hiring “integrators” to coordinate their entire mobile-workforce transformation, from software to training to real estate. “Many companies need assistance putting all the pieces together,” says Worzel. “And that’s worth something.”

 

If your office seems a little emptier these days, you’re not alone. Employees equipped with smartphones, laptops and wireless Internet connections are increasingly ditching their desks for their homes, cars or cafés. Framingham, Mass.-based market research firm IDC predicts that by 2013, mobile workers—be they work-at-home types, part-time office denizens or on-the-go specialists—will number almost 1.2 billion, or 35% of the global workforce, up from 919 million in 2008. And a recent joint survey by Microsoft Canada and Ipsos-Reid found that 87% of Canadians are seeking technology that helps them do their job in any location.

“People are looking for ways to get more done, so there has been a shift in how we look at productivity,” says Ken Nickerson, Toronto-based CEO of tech research and investment firm iBinary LLC. “If you’re awake and have a computer in your hand, you might be able to do something of value—regardless of where you are.”

Employers need help managing the shift to mobile. Bruce Dow, an associate partner with IBM in Toronto specializing in mobility and change management, says this requires making changes in culture, technology, processes and real estate: “If entrepreneurs can understand those four areas and find where companies have gaps, they’ll find opportunity.”

Build a better app

Mobile workers need software that lets them carry out important tasks wherever they are. Yet, for the past few years, app developers have largely focused on the consumer side. They’ve left plenty of room for user-friendly, professional-grade business offerings to help on-the-go staff in areas such as HR (e.g., software they can use to update vacation or sick days remotely at the touch of a button), accounts payable, procurement and sales management. In general, the more tailored an app is toward a specific industry or function, the better it will be received, says Gene Signorini, vice-president at Boston-based Yankee Group, a consultancy specializing in technology-enabled mobility.

Jonathan Defoy, CEO of Montreal-based Biztree Inc.—which recently created a web-based app for Business-in-a-Box, its business-document development software—says there’s also an opening for app developers to piggyback off the giants. “Instead of trying to replace something like Skype, create an app that can really improve the Skype experience for remote workers in specific industries,” he suggests. This will give you an automatic channel through which to sell your wares—and, if you’re successful, there’s a good chance you can sell your firm to the company your app supports.

Sell services to the small guys

Daniel Burrus, Milwaukee-based author of Flash Foresight: How to See the Invisible and Do the Impossible, says the ascent of the mobile workforce has been made possible by increased processing power, data storage and bandwidth. So, it’s no surprise that wireless infrastructure development is white-hot, with virtually every player in the sector in serious expansion mode. Upinder Saini, vice-president of new product development at Rogers Wireless Inc., says that when it comes to supporting the extreme popularity of data-guzzling, web-connected devices like smartphones and tablet PCs, “It’s difficult to keep up with the demand that’s out there.” That’s why wireless operators are undertaking huge upgrades to, among other things, expand coverage areas and prepare for 4G mobile devices. This will ratchet up demand for subcontractors for everything from tower repair to installation. Getting in on this game is no mean feat; most of the large wireless carriers that dominate the sector turn to a small group of trusted suppliers to do their fieldwork, says Iain Grant, Montreal-based principal analyst at the SeaBoard Group, a telecommunications consultancy. Still, he says, there is an opportunity for smaller firms: providing services to these suppliers. That could be anything from software to track the status of wireless towers in remote areas to new technology consultation services.

Even more promising opportunities lie with the new carriers launched since the CRTC’s major auction of wireless spectrum in 2008. Lacking the 20 years-plus head start of Rogers, Bell and Telus, the upstarts are working to expand their networks at a breakneck pace, says Grant, and need support in both hardware and software.

What are their specific needs? That varies so widely by carrier that you’ll need to develop individual relationships with them to figure that out. But, with far fewer in-house resources than the big players, they need an array of help. And, with another spectrum auction expected in 2012, now is a good time to position your firm as a friend of smaller carriers.

Support the virtual workplace

Professional-services firms can profit by meeting the multiple support needs of firms with mobile workers. Expect high demand for training firms that help bosses learn to manage workers who aren’t in front of them, and for consultants who can help revise business-continuity plans, such as what to do if a wireless network goes down.

Flexible IT services will also be hot, says Nickerson, as companies look to replace 9-to-5 IT departments with 24-hour remote on-demand support. He adds that there will be a greater need for mobile-friendly security services—including remote disablement and backup storage—since employees are far more likely to compromise or lose data on a smartphone or laptop than on a desktop.

Another possibility is to help firms reorganize and reconfigure their office space to accommodate fewer people in the building. Many companies are moving toward “hotelling,” replacing defined cubicles with communal workspaces; when a teleworker does come into the office, she picks an open space and works from it. Dow says this “space on demand” model saves on real estate costs. “When companies really look at it, they see that their space is only 40% to 50% utilized, because people are working offsite,” he says. “There is room for design firms to help them create highly collaborative and open spaces.”

If you have expertise in several of these areas, you’re in luck. Richard Worzel, a Toronto-based futurist, says that many larger companies are interested in hiring “integrators” to coordinate their entire mobile-workforce transformation, from software to training to real estate. “Many companies need assistance putting all the pieces together,” says Worzel. “And that’s worth something.”

If your office seems a little emptier these days, you’re not alone. Employees equipped with smartphones, laptops and wireless Internet connections are increasingly ditching their desks for their homes, cars or cafés. Framingham, Mass.-based market research firm IDC predicts that by 2013, mobile workers—be they work-at-home types, part-time office denizens or on-the-go specialists—will number almost 1.2 billion, or 35% of the global workforce, up from 919 million in 2008. And a recent joint survey by Microsoft Canada and Ipsos-Reid found that 87% of Canadians are seeking technology that helps them do their job in any location.

“People are looking for ways to get more done, so there has been a shift in how we look at productivity,” says Ken Nickerson, Toronto-based CEO of tech research and investment firm iBinary LLC. “If you’re awake and have a computer in your hand, you might be able to do something of value—regardless of where you are.”

Employers need help managing the shift to mobile. Bruce Dow, an associate partner with IBM in Toronto specializing in mobility and change management, says this requires making changes in culture, technology, processes and real estate: “If entrepreneurs can understand those four areas and find where companies have gaps, they’ll find opportunity.”

Build a better app

Mobile workers need software that lets them carry out important tasks wherever they are. Yet, for the past few years, app developers have largely focused on the consumer side. They’ve left plenty of room for user-friendly, professional-grade business offerings to help on-the-go staff in areas such as HR (e.g., software they can use to update vacation or sick days remotely at the touch of a button), accounts payable, procurement and sales management. In general, the more tailored an app is toward a specific industry or function, the better it will be received, says Gene Signorini, vice-president at Boston-based Yankee Group, a consultancy specializing in technology-enabled mobility.

Jonathan Defoy, CEO of Montreal-based Biztree Inc.—which recently created a web-based app for Business-in-a-Box, its business-document development software—says there’s also an opening for app developers to piggyback off the giants. “Instead of trying to replace something like Skype, create an app that can really improve the Skype experience for remote workers in specific industries,” he suggests. This will give you an automatic channel through which to sell your wares—and, if you’re successful, there’s a good chance you can sell your firm to the company your app supports.

Sell services to the small guys

Daniel Burrus, Milwaukee-based author of Flash Foresight: How to See the Invisible and Do the Impossible, says the ascent of the mobile workforce has been made possible by increased processing power, data storage and bandwidth. So, it’s no surprise that wireless infrastructure development is white-hot, with virtually every player in the sector in serious expansion mode. Upinder Saini, vice-president of new product development at Rogers Wireless Inc., says that when it comes to supporting the extreme popularity of data-guzzling, web-connected devices like smartphones and tablet PCs, “It’s difficult to keep up with the demand that’s out there.” That’s why wireless operators are undertaking huge upgrades to, among other things, expand coverage areas and prepare for 4G mobile devices. This will ratchet up demand for subcontractors for everything from tower repair to installation. Getting in on this game is no mean feat; most of the large wireless carriers that dominate the sector turn to a small group of trusted suppliers to do their fieldwork, says Iain Grant, Montreal-based principal analyst at the SeaBoard Group, a telecommunications consultancy. Still, he says, there is an opportunity for smaller firms: providing services to these suppliers. That could be anything from software to track the status of wireless towers in remote areas to new technology consultation services.

Even more promising opportunities lie with the new carriers launched since the CRTC’s major auction of wireless spectrum in 2008. Lacking the 20 years-plus head start of Rogers, Bell and Telus, the upstarts are working to expand their networks at a breakneck pace, says Grant, and need support in both hardware and software.

What are their specific needs? That varies so widely by carrier that you’ll need to develop individual relationships with them to figure that out. But, with far fewer in-house resources than the big players, they need an array of help. And, with another spectrum auction expected in 2012, now is a good time to position your firm as a friend of smaller carriers.

Support the virtual workplace

Professional-services firms can profit by meeting the multiple support needs of firms with mobile workers. Expect high demand for training firms that help bosses learn to manage workers who aren’t in front of them, and for consultants who can help revise business-continuity plans, such as what to do if a wireless network goes down.

Flexible IT services will also be hot, says Nickerson, as companies look to replace 9-to-5 IT departments with 24-hour remote on-demand support. He adds that there will be a greater need for mobile-friendly security services—including remote disablement and backup storage—since employees are far more likely to compromise or lose data on a smartphone or laptop than on a desktop.

Another possibility is to help firms reorganize and reconfigure their office space to accommodate fewer people in the building. Many companies are moving toward “hotelling,” replacing defined cubicles with communal workspaces; when a teleworker does come into the office, she picks an open space and works from it. Dow says this “space on demand” model saves on real estate costs. “When companies really look at it, they see that their space is only 40% to 50% utilized, because people are working offsite,” he says. “There is room for design firms to help them create highly collaborative and open spaces.”

If you have expertise in several of these areas, you’re in luck. Richard Worzel, a Toronto-based futurist, says that many larger companies are interested in hiring “integrators” to coordinate their entire mobile-workforce transformation, from software to training to real estate. “Many companies need assistance putting all the pieces together,” says Worzel. “And that’s worth something.”

 

If your office seems a little emptier these days, you’re not alone. Employees equipped with smartphones, laptops and wireless Internet connections are increasingly ditching their desks for their homes, cars or cafés. Framingham, Mass.-based market research firm IDC predicts that by 2013, mobile workers—be they work-at-home types, part-time office denizens or on-the-go specialists—will number almost 1.2 billion, or 35% of the global workforce, up from 919 million in 2008. And a recent joint survey by Microsoft Canada and Ipsos-Reid found that 87% of Canadians are seeking technology that helps them do their job in any location.

“People are looking for ways to get more done, so there has been a shift in how we look at productivity,” says Ken Nickerson, Toronto-based CEO of tech research and investment firm iBinary LLC. “If you’re awake and have a computer in your hand, you might be able to do something of value—regardless of where you are.”

Employers need help managing the shift to mobile. Bruce Dow, an associate partner with IBM in Toronto specializing in mobility and change management, says this requires making changes in culture, technology, processes and real estate: “If entrepreneurs can understand those four areas and find where companies have gaps, they’ll find opportunity.”

Build a better app

Mobile workers need software that lets them carry out important tasks wherever they are. Yet, for the past few years, app developers have largely focused on the consumer side. They’ve left plenty of room for user-friendly, professional-grade business offerings to help on-the-go staff in areas such as HR (e.g., software they can use to update vacation or sick days remotely at the touch of a button), accounts payable, procurement and sales management. In general, the more tailored an app is toward a specific industry or function, the better it will be received, says Gene Signorini, vice-president at Boston-based Yankee Group, a consultancy specializing in technology-enabled mobility.

Jonathan Defoy, CEO of Montreal-based Biztree Inc.—which recently created a web-based app for Business-in-a-Box, its business-document development software—says there’s also an opening for app developers to piggyback off the giants. “Instead of trying to replace something like Skype, create an app that can really improve the Skype experience for remote workers in specific industries,” he suggests. This will give you an automatic channel through which to sell your wares—and, if you’re successful, there’s a good chance you can sell your firm to the company your app supports.

Sell services to the small guys

Daniel Burrus, Milwaukee-based author of Flash Foresight: How to See the Invisible and Do the Impossible, says the ascent of the mobile workforce has been made possible by increased processing power, data storage and bandwidth. So, it’s no surprise that wireless infrastructure development is white-hot, with virtually every player in the sector in serious expansion mode. Upinder Saini, vice-president of new product development at Rogers Wireless Inc., says that when it comes to supporting the extreme popularity of data-guzzling, web-connected devices like smartphones and tablet PCs, “It’s difficult to keep up with the demand that’s out there.” That’s why wireless operators are undertaking huge upgrades to, among other things, expand coverage areas and prepare for 4G mobile devices. This will ratchet up demand for subcontractors for everything from tower repair to installation. Getting in on this game is no mean feat; most of the large wireless carriers that dominate the sector turn to a small group of trusted suppliers to do their fieldwork, says Iain Grant, Montreal-based principal analyst at the SeaBoard Group, a telecommunications consultancy. Still, he says, there is an opportunity for smaller firms: providing services to these suppliers. That could be anything from software to track the status of wireless towers in remote areas to new technology consultation services.

Even more promising opportunities lie with the new carriers launched since the CRTC’s major auction of wireless spectrum in 2008. Lacking the 20 years-plus head start of Rogers, Bell and Telus, the upstarts are working to expand their networks at a breakneck pace, says Grant, and need support in both hardware and software.

What are their specific needs? That varies so widely by carrier that you’ll need to develop individual relationships with them to figure that out. But, with far fewer in-house resources than the big players, they need an array of help. And, with another spectrum auction expected in 2012, now is a good time to position your firm as a friend of smaller carriers.

Support the virtual workplace

Professional-services firms can profit by meeting the multiple support needs of firms with mobile workers. Expect high demand for training firms that help bosses learn to manage workers who aren’t in front of them, and for consultants who can help revise business-continuity plans, such as what to do if a wireless network goes down.

Flexible IT services will also be hot, says Nickerson, as companies look to replace 9-to-5 IT departments with 24-hour remote on-demand support. He adds that there will be a greater need for mobile-friendly security services—including remote disablement and backup storage—since employees are far more likely to compromise or lose data on a smartphone or laptop than on a desktop.

Another possibility is to help firms reorganize and reconfigure their office space to accommodate fewer people in the building. Many companies are moving toward “hotelling,” replacing defined cubicles with communal workspaces; when a teleworker does come into the office, she picks an open space and works from it. Dow says this “space on demand” model saves on real estate costs. “When companies really look at it, they see that their space is only 40% to 50% utilized, because people are working offsite,” he says. “There is room for design firms to help them create highly collaborative and open spaces.”

If you have expertise in several of these areas, you’re in luck. Richard Worzel, a Toronto-based futurist, says that many larger companies are interested in hiring “integrators” to coordinate their entire mobile-workforce transformation, from software to training to real estate. “Many companies need assistance putting all the pieces together,” says Worzel. “And that’s worth something.”

 

If your office seems a little emptier these days, you’re not alone. Employees equipped with smartphones, laptops and wireless Internet connections are increasingly ditching their desks for their homes, cars or cafés. Framingham, Mass.-based market research firm IDC predicts that by 2013, mobile workers—be they work-at-home types, part-time office denizens or on-the-go specialists—will number almost 1.2 billion, or 35% of the global workforce, up from 919 million in 2008. And a recent joint survey by Microsoft Canada and Ipsos-Reid found that 87% of Canadians are seeking technology that helps them do their job in any location.

“People are looking for ways to get more done, so there has been a shift in how we look at productivity,” says Ken Nickerson, Toronto-based CEO of tech research and investment firm iBinary LLC. “If you’re awake and have a computer in your hand, you might be able to do something of value—regardless of where you are.”

Employers need help managing the shift to mobile. Bruce Dow, an associate partner with IBM in Toronto specializing in mobility and change management, says this requires making changes in culture, technology, processes and real estate: “If entrepreneurs can understand those four areas and find where companies have gaps, they’ll find opportunity.”

Build a better app

Mobile workers need software that lets them carry out important tasks wherever they are. Yet, for the past few years, app developers have largely focused on the consumer side. They’ve left plenty of room for user-friendly, professional-grade business offerings to help on-the-go staff in areas such as HR (e.g., software they can use to update vacation or sick days remotely at the touch of a button), accounts payable, procurement and sales management. In general, the more tailored an app is toward a specific industry or function, the better it will be received, says Gene Signorini, vice-president at Boston-based Yankee Group, a consultancy specializing in technology-enabled mobility.

Jonathan Defoy, CEO of Montreal-based Biztree Inc.—which recently created a web-based app for Business-in-a-Box, its business-document development software—says there’s also an opening for app developers to piggyback off the giants. “Instead of trying to replace something like Skype, create an app that can really improve the Skype experience for remote workers in specific industries,” he suggests. This will give you an automatic channel through which to sell your wares—and, if you’re successful, there’s a good chance you can sell your firm to the company your app supports.

Sell services to the small guys

Daniel Burrus, Milwaukee-based author of Flash Foresight: How to See the Invisible and Do the Impossible, says the ascent of the mobile workforce has been made possible by increased processing power, data storage and bandwidth. So, it’s no surprise that wireless infrastructure development is white-hot, with virtually every player in the sector in serious expansion mode. Upinder Saini, vice-president of new product development at Rogers Wireless Inc., says that when it comes to supporting the extreme popularity of data-guzzling, web-connected devices like smartphones and tablet PCs, “It’s difficult to keep up with the demand that’s out there.” That’s why wireless operators are undertaking huge upgrades to, among other things, expand coverage areas and prepare for 4G mobile devices. This will ratchet up demand for subcontractors for everything from tower repair to installation. Getting in on this game is no mean feat; most of the large wireless carriers that dominate the sector turn to a small group of trusted suppliers to do their fieldwork, says Iain Grant, Montreal-based principal analyst at the SeaBoard Group, a telecommunications consultancy. Still, he says, there is an opportunity for smaller firms: providing services to these suppliers. That could be anything from software to track the status of wireless towers in remote areas to new technology consultation services.

Even more promising opportunities lie with the new carriers launched since the CRTC’s major auction of wireless spectrum in 2008. Lacking the 20 years-plus head start of Rogers, Bell and Telus, the upstarts are working to expand their networks at a breakneck pace, says Grant, and need support in both hardware and software.

What are their specific needs? That varies so widely by carrier that you’ll need to develop individual relationships with them to figure that out. But, with far fewer in-house resources than the big players, they need an array of help. And, with another spectrum auction expected in 2012, now is a good time to position your firm as a friend of smaller carriers.

Support the virtual workplace

Professional-services firms can profit by meeting the multiple support needs of firms with mobile workers. Expect high demand for training firms that help bosses learn to manage workers who aren’t in front of them, and for consultants who can help revise business-continuity plans, such as what to do if a wireless network goes down.

Flexible IT services will also be hot, says Nickerson, as companies look to replace 9-to-5 IT departments with 24-hour remote on-demand support. He adds that there will be a greater need for mobile-friendly security services—including remote disablement and backup storage—since employees are far more likely to compromise or lose data on a smartphone or laptop than on a desktop.

Another possibility is to help firms reorganize and reconfigure their office space to accommodate fewer people in the building. Many companies are moving toward “hotelling,” replacing defined cubicles with communal workspaces; when a teleworker does come into the office, she picks an open space and works from it. Dow says this “space on demand” model saves on real estate costs. “When companies really look at it, they see that their space is only 40% to 50% utilized, because people are working offsite,” he says. “There is room for design firms to help them create highly collaborative and open spaces.”

If you have expertise in several of these areas, you’re in luck. Richard Worzel, a Toronto-based futurist, says that many larger companies are interested in hiring “integrators” to coordinate their entire mobile-workforce transformation, from software to training to real estate. “Many companies need assistance putting all the pieces together,” says Worzel. “And that’s worth something.”