With uncertain times and technology opportunities on the horizon, Panasonic Toughbook’s European Head says 2024 should be a year for mobility partnerships. 


written by: Steven Vindevogel, Head of PANASONIC Mobile Solutions Business Division Europe

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I’ve always thought speculating on next year’s business trends is much like predicting the weather. We can make an educated guess but the minute you decide that you don’t need your umbrella is the moment you get caught in a downpour. 

However, what I can say confidently as we enter 2024 is that businesses are facing a period of uncertainty. On the one hand, social-economic clouds continue to hang across Europe in the form of higher costs, supply chain challenges and skilled labour shortages. But there are also encouraging beams of sunlight breaking through in the shape of technologies, such as 5G and AI, that promise to transform the way we do business in the mobility space.

Although the pathway is somewhat unclear and things are fast moving, it promises to be an exciting year of change for 2024. At these times, more than ever, businesses should remain agile and work closely with their trusted partners to guide them through this period.

Increasing adoption of 5G and AI

In the world of mobile workforces, 5G in the form of private networks promises to unlock a new wave of productivity. The uninterrupted connectivity, high bandwidth and additional security of 5G private networks will be transformative for business and education campuses, transport hubs like airports and ports, and for those hyper mobile workers in fields such as emergency services, logistics and maintenance and repairs. Devices that can take advantage of these networks are, of course, something that Panasonic TOUGHBOOK is already well prepared for. 

I won’t win any prizes for predicting that AI will continue to have a big impact in 2024 but its effect on the mobile workforce is still only just beginning to take shape. However, the potential opportunities look exciting. Imagine, for example, the learnings of a maintenance and repair team in the field instantly being made available via an AI app on a mobile device for everyone in the workforce to call upon and benefit from. 

Fast growth sectors

As well as exciting technology opportunities, there are also fast growth industry sectors where business in 2024 will continue to drive innovation. Areas such as the impact of battery-power in the automotive industry, the utility sectors move to renewables from legacy systems, goods tracking in the logistics and retail industries and advanced communications in the emergency services.



A mobility partner for built-in flexibility

As opportunities arise, businesses will increasingly rely on a mobility partner to help them respond and take advantages of these innovation sectors and applications such as 5G and AI. As a result, I believe 2024 will also be the year of the mobility partner. it’s no longer enough to be a rugged device manufacturer. Mobility is complex and will become increasingly so. It’s why our focus is to continue to evolve our services to become a true mobility partner for customers. 

Let me give you some examples. As different personas in the mobile workforce continue to rise, support in specifying the right device and peripherals to meet varying team needs is becoming ever more important.

Flexibility on how customers can buy their devices is another popular talking point. Businesses desire flexibility, such as an OPEX monthly finance solution, as well as the traditional CAPEX purchase option.

But it doesn’t end there. Once the rugged devices have been chosen, already busy in-house teams often want staging and roll-out support. As new opportunities arise, a partner that can offer ongoing management, development and support to optimise the deployment is important. And of course, when devices do fail, mobile workers require a replacement device immediately to avoid costly downtime while the issue can be resolved using a 48-hour repair and replacement service from a European-based configuration and repair centre.

Lastly, as we move into 2024 there will be a continued focus on sustainability. It’s a year when I believe our REVIVE programme will come into its own. When TOUGHBOOK devices are ready for replacement, this innovative scheme enables customers to send them back to us. We then refurbish and repurpose their TOUGHBOOK devices for sale or donation in the secondary market or recycle them responsibly.

So, although there may be uncertainty as we enter 2024, there are still plenty of bright spots on the horizon in the form of growth industry sectors, transformative new technologies and advances in mobility support. As a realistic optimist I’m hoping for bright weather – but remember – don’t forget your umbrella!

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