Mobile application use to drive management needs

A sharp rise in mobile application and device usage within enterprises will fuel the need for better mobile device management tools, according to a recent survey.

A sharp increase in the use of mobile applications and mobile devices within enterprises means organizations will need a better way to manage their mobility going forward, a recent study found.

The study, sponsored by mobile management vendor Mformation Technologies Inc. and conducted by research firm Coleman Parkes, focused on 200 detailed interviews with CIOs and telecommunications directors within 500 global enterprises.

Over the next two years, enterprises will provide an increasing number of management and staff with devices equipped with access to corporate data and applications, according to the study, and they will dramatically increase the use of such applications as VoIP, instant messaging and picture/video messaging. The enterprises queried also noted that "improved mobile device management is a key priority to support mobilizing the workforce and to maintain and improve productivity levels of mobile workers."

According to Matt Bancroft, chief marketing officer for Mformation, the study found that 81% of respondents believed that device management would allow them to increase productivity within their organizations, and one-third of those reported productivity increases of 20% or higher.

Bancroft said the results show that more users in enterprises will be employing mobile devices. In the U.S., enterprises reported that more than half of managers and nearly one-third of staff are using company-supplied mobile devices, with 56% reporting increased usage among managers and 60% reporting increases in staff usage.

And while applications like mobile email, mobile Internet and calendaring are already widely used -- 90% of companies are using them, the study found -- enterprises are also going to increase significantly the use of other mobile applications such as sales force applications and company file-share systems.

Looking ahead, enterprises said they will expand the rollout of mobile VoIP, push-to-talk and picture/video messaging by 2009. Mobile VoIP is poised to grow from 27% to 70%; push-to-talk from 35% to 55%; and picture/video messaging from 35% to 63%.

"As you offer more and more applications to users, the level of support and technical assistance increases and can get costly," Bancroft said.

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Roughly four-fifths of CIOs interviewed look for improved management of mobile devices, applications and data to accelerate productivity. More than eight out of 10 CIOs in the U.S. said mobile operators should take the lead in providing device management services.

"Mobile devices are becoming even more smart, with the capability to do anything from using VoIP to business applications such as calendars and push email," Bancroft said. "We've reached the point in the market where mobile business applications are tried and tested, and now people are really starting to use them.

"However, this raises an interesting challenge for CIOs in terms of management and security," Bancroft continued. "While IT departments have the solutions in place to manage business applications that reside on laptops or PCs, doing this on mobile handsets presents a far greater challenge; for example, they'll need to start thinking about how to deploy applications, patches and updates over the air."

Companies surveyed also expect the growth rate of mobile applications to increase as much as 37% annually. The proliferation of devices and applications will necessitate better visibility and control over devices, meaning IT will need to keep tabs on them much as they do with laptops and notebooks.

"Smartphones are fast becoming as important to the business user as laptops," Bancroft said. "Businesspeople want to be able to use the same applications that are available on their laptops on their smartphones, and this is quickly becoming a reality. With CIOs reporting productivity increases of 20% or higher, it is clear that companies can greatly benefit by taking better control of their mobility infrastructure."

The survey found that 84% of U.S. companies believe the ability to manage devices more effectively will lead to higher productivity, and 84% also said it is the mobile operator's responsibility to improve network and device management.

"These statistics highlight how important it is for operators to offer effective mobile device management," Bancroft said. "With good support, new mobile applications will see a much higher uptake. Businesses need support with any technology they roll out, and this is no different with mobile devices. It's a great opportunity to provide a value-add and access new revenue streams through new applications."

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