Cisco To Partners: Are You Ready For The Mobile Onslaught?

By 2019 there will be 5.2 billion people using mobile devices and 11.5 billion mobile connections, which will help drive a tenfold jump in global mobile data traffic, according to Cisco Systems. The opportunity for partners, according to the company, is enormous.

"For partner success in general, there are major opportunities in many areas like machine-to-machine, video and many others because no one company, no single entity can provide or cover all the different aspects associated with mobile. It's such a vast and broad industry, so partners have a giant role to play in this," said Thomas Barnett, director and leader of Cisco's Visual Networking Index Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast.

In its ninth annual mobile forecast, Cisco, San Jose, Calif., said mobile traffic -- from the number of users and devices to the speeds of the networks, use of Wi-Fi, and video and cellular traffic -- is going to sharply increase over the next four years.

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Mobile traffic will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 57 percent from 2014 to 2019, according to Cisco's forecast. The average mobile network connection speed will jump from 1.7 Mbits in 2014 to nearly 4.0 by 2019. Approximately 97 percent of mobile data traffic will come from smart devices, the company predicted.

"It’s coming like a landslide," said Scott Alexander, president of wireless at Alexander Open Systems, an Overland Park, Kan.-based Cisco Gold partner.

Alexander Open Systems can capitalize on this massive growth thorough consulting and infrastructure services, he said.

"There's a huge opportunity for making money in terms of working with customers and helping them build up the proper infrastructure," said Alexander.

In 2014, almost a half-billion mobile devices and connections were added, growing from 6.9 billion in 2013 to 7.4 billion, according to the forecast.

Jamie Shepard, senior vice president of strategy and health care at Lumenate, a Dallas-based solution provider and Cisco partner, said he sees Lumenate scaling at the same rate of growth, especially in the health-care space.

"Mobility is running rampant and clinicians are demanding fast access to patient records on any and all devices," said Shepard.

Lumenate has been "extremely" focused on building out its end-user experience practice, security teams and other ecosystem-supporting technologies to address mobility, he said. Cisco, he added, has helped Lumenate prepare for the boom.

"We have struggled in the past due to the fact that we had an immature product set to choose from, but with Cisco we are using our integrated delivery model to now finally bring mobility to the forefront and customers are finally embracing mobility," said Shepard. "Integration is huge and adding Cisco security along with core data center technologies has translated to new internal training, cross-training and growth for our technical consultants and engineers."

NEXT: What About Wi-Fi?

"Mobile device management [MDM] and Wi-Fi are growing," said Bill Smeltzer, CTO of Focus Technology Solutions, a Seabrook, N.H.-based Cisco partner.

Cisco is helping Focus Technology Solutions around Wi-Fi and WAN technologies, according to Smeltzer.

"I think cloud-based management like Meraki in Wi-Fi has helped," said Smeltzer. "Also Cisco security enhancements have helped."

The Middle East and Africa will see the strongest mobile data traffic growth of any region at 72 percent, followed by Central and Eastern Europe at 71 percent and Latin America at 59 percent, according to the forecast.

"This mobile-centric environment will give service providers a new landscape of challenges and opportunities to innovatively deliver a variety of mobile services and experiences to consumers and business users as the Internet of Everything continues to take shape," said Doug Webster, vice president of service provider products and solutions marketing at Cisco, in a statement.