• November 7, 2006
  • By Coreen Bailor, (former) Associate Editor, CRM Magazine

Europe Eyes Mobility

The mobility market continues to capture the interest of many European firms: They're devoting one third of their telecom and networking budgets to mobility, according to "The State of European Enterprise Mobility In 2006," a new Forrester Research report. Of that one third, 18 percent of budgets will go toward mobile voice services in 2006, with the remaining 15 percent being allocated to mobile data services. (These findings are based on Forrester's survey of 301 executives at European enterprises.)

"Mobility is no longer at the fringe of discussions; instead, it lies at the core of strategic agendas...because of the opportunity for greater productivity, cost savings, and boosted employee morale," the report states.

Despite mobility's increasing popularity, European firms still plan on spending most of their telecommunications and network services budgets on landline data services, representing 39 percent of their expected 2006 spend, according to the report. Twenty-nine percent of these budgets will be spent on landline voice services.

However, 32 percent of a smaller group (178 European executives) view setting mobile and wireless strategy and policy as a priority in 2006, while 16 percent classify it as a critical priority, according to the report. Still, 29 percent do not see setting mobile and wireless strategy and policy as a priority, and for 23 percent of respondents it's not on their agenda. "Mobile strategies will focus on mobile device choices and which mobile applications to roll out, with a clear idea about costs and benefits," the report states. "Mobile policies will include security policies, specifications of usage by employee function, and cost-control measures."

Several CRM companies have been bolstering their efforts to get their slice of the mobility pie. For example, Maximizer Software today introduced MaxMobile for Maximizer 9, a native application for the Windows Mobile platform. The application allows small business owners to access their customer data using Windows Mobile-compatible wireless devices like the Palm Treo 700w, Dell Axim X51 series, and the HP iPAQ, according to the company. Another feature is the ability to allow Maximizer 9 users to interact with their Maximizer address book, calendar, hotlist, notes, and user fields using a native Windows Mobile application.

Fifty-eight percent of companies have personalized contacts and calendars in production, an upgrade underway, or an initial rollout underway, while 21 percent are evaluating or piloting these applications. Remaining applications include SMS alerts (53 percent on the way, 17 percent evaluating), content/information for employees (41 percent, 18 percent), wireless or Blackberry (53 percent, 24 percent), sales force apps (25 percent, 16 percent), field force apps (21 percent, 17 percent), and instant messaging (24 percent, 25 percent), according to the report. (These findings are based on Forrester's survey of 191 mobile technology and services decision-makers at European enterprises).

Despite promising current and expected mobile services acceptance, some companies harbor cost and reliability concerns. Forty percent of companies are concerned about the cost of mobile voice, while 41 percent are most concerned with the cost of international mobile roaming services, according to the report. But for both mobile data services and mobile applications software, reliability trumps all concerns with 27 percent and 24 percent respectively. It's important to note, however, that reliability just slightly edged past cost (26 percent), when it comes to mobile data services. (These findings are based on Forrester's survey of 191 mobile technology and services decision-makers at European enterprises).

"It's good news that enterprises are strategically planning for mobility and benefiting from it," says Jenny Lau, Forrester analyst and author of the report. "However, there is a risk that mobility will remain a strategic agenda point that doesn't get realized. To turn strategy into reality, firms must devise a strategy and plan pilots with users, set handset policies early, and have contingency plans in place. In addition, it's best to start small. Firms should see how mobility can give existing infrastructure a boost rather than planning for an ERP overhaul at the outset."

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