Determining the Next Mobility Platform

By Guy Currier  |  Posted 2009-05-05 Print this article Print

Many IT organizations remain reactive when it comes to enterprise mobility strategies, leaving it up to business leaders to drive this cost-saving initiative. Baseline’s exclusive study with services firm Keane reveals the unintended consequences of this scenario.

Determining the Next Mobility Platform

Meanwhile, security risks increase as the technology advances and new options become available. But, unfortunately, no one knows which wireless mobility platform—if any—is going to be the new standard. While the more marginal DECT and more advanced LTE are currently attracting very little interest, the other high-speed platforms we looked at (UMTS, EDGE, Mobile WiMax, CDMA2000 and TD-CDMA) each showed between 20 percent and 30 percent adoption, with most still only partially deployed.

When we asked what share of their company’s mobile work force would ultimately be using each of the various 3G and high-speed options they were adopting, the majority of respondents estimated that, at most, it would be 60 percent of their users.

So, when evaluating the future of enterprise mobility, there are numerous options and little certainty. In fact, it doesn’t even seem as if applications are converging onto the ever-expanding smartphone platform. For example, though 78 percent of the companies surveyed support smartphones for their employees, 62 percent still support PDAs.

Meanwhile, pagers are still important in industries such as aerospace, defense and health care, and inventory tools like RFID and mobile optical scanners are used in manufacturing and health care. Netbooks are attracting interest in tech services industries and educational settings.

This uncertainty about mobile technologies and platforms explains why survey respondents voiced so many varied concerns related to high-speed mobile deployments. Security, as mentioned above, was the main concern with 39 percent, while equipment costs, network usage costs and vendor support levels all had more than 30 percent of respondents citing them as one of their top concerns. Five other areas—training, management, compliance, integration with older mobile technologies and international roaming costs—were cited as top concerns by at least 15 percent of respondents.

Watching the Budget

Another consequence of the reactive role IT is currently playing in enterprise mobility was revealed in budget structures. In 32 percent of the companies surveyed, mobile devices are strictly within IT’s purview, and in 46 percent of firms, mobile applications are an IT item. In another 30 percent to 35 percent of cases, budgeting is shared between IT and the business units. What’s telling is the degree to which this IT budget is still siloed outside other technology spending.

After all, isn’t a client device just a client device, whether it’s a smartphone or a PC? Astute IT organizations are increasingly looking at the infrastructure in this way—a trend that’s also driving the enormous interest in service-oriented architecture and cloud computing.

The goal should be to provide the right client for each user and use, but setting aside the mobility budget at a strategic level can hinder that. Among survey respondents, 79 percent keep separate IT budget lines for mobile devices, applications or both. That’s what managers do to maintain control over costs and procedures when they themselves are not driving the process.

Executive Director of Research for Ziff Davis Enterprise

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