• January 2, 2007
  • By Coreen Bailor, (former) Associate Editor, CRM Magazine

The Continued March to Mobility

The potential of arming employees with real-time access to information is becoming increasingly harder to ignore, and is spurring companies to carve out a chunk of their telecom budgets for mobility strategies. Slightly more than a quarter (26 percent) of North American enterprises' 2006 telecom budgets were invested in mobile voice and data services, according to the Forrester Research report, "The State of North American Enterprise Mobility in 2006." More specifically, all mobile voice services accounted for 14 percent, while all mobile data services accounted for 12 percent. These figures are based on Forrester's March 2006 survey of 324 executives at North American enterprises. The primary reason for uptake "still is real-time access to information to help you either connect with your suppliers and partners or do better customer care," says Maribel Lopez, a vice president and principal analyst at Forester and author of the report. "It makes smaller companies look like big companies and it makes big companies more nimble." While mobile services are gaining traction, landline services still commanded most of the 2006 telecom and network services budgets of those surveyed--34 percent for all landline voice services and 40 percent for all landline data services. The report categorizes enterprise mobility into three usage models: information workers, mobile workers, and the instrumented enterprise. Information workers, according to the report, are employees who are away from their desks two to three days a week, and use email and calendar functionality and devices like smartphones and PDAs. Mobile workers are away from their desks four to five days week, use line-of-business applications and devices like more rugged handsets and PDAs. The instrumented enterprise "connects physical endpoints like sensors and RFID tags to backend systems to monitor, track, and control, a firm's assets," the report states. The report also drills into the adoption of specific mobile apps. Mobile email and personalized contacts and calendar applications are by far the most popular mobile apps with companies surveyed. Most companies (71 percent) have fully deployed or are upgrading mobile email functionality, while 64 percent noted that they have fully deployed personalized contacts and calendaring or have an upgrade under way. "What we're seeing now is the transition from just doing email and calendaring, which are really important for all sizes of organizations, but actually looking to move into mobile line-of-business apps--logistics, field service, any app that would be more specific to your business," Lopez says. Survey results indicate that 34 percent of respondents have fully deployed or are in the process of upgrading content/information for employees and 25 percent are evaluating or piloting. Trailing these were SMS alerts (33 percent fully deployed or in the process of upgrading, 16 percent evaluating or piloting), instant messaging (29 percent, 19 percent), and inventory management (28 percent, 16 percent). Other apps and their adoption include field service applications (24 percent, 20 percent), sales force applications (22 percent, 21 percent), customer-facing applications (21 percent, 19 percent), and logistics applications (18 percent, 20 percent). Lopez adds, though, that the biggest challenge to incorporating mobility is that "you just can't go to a vendor and buy an enterprise mobility strategy." She says there is "anywhere between five and fifteen different components you need." One piece of advice Lopez provides is to "select companies that have strong partnerships or an acquisition strategy to streamline the amount of things you need to buy from multiple vendors." Related articles: Europe Eyes Mobility
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