New study sheds light on the growing practice of mobility driven by five distinct forces
Analysts share best practices on how to go about mobilising your business
THERE is no denying that the mobility trend has created significant disruptions in the today’s workforce.
After all, the proliferation of mobile devices coupled with fast, ubiquitous wireless networks, access to useful software apps and a new breed of younger, more socially connected work force are but the main reasons why this trend is expected to grow unabated.
According to a recent report by Forrester, there are specific forces created within the work place that is driving this dramatic change in how people work.
These forces in turn originate from the continuing trend driven by the consumerisation of IT, a broad term used to describe how IT is now no longer only used within the enterprise but by everyone who has a consumer device.
In its study co-authored by David Johnson and Michele Pelino entitled ‘Five Seismic Forces Reshuffle The Workforce Vendor Ecosystem,’ the two principal analysts for Forrester noted that a technically savvy mobile workforce is driving new IT requirements within the enterprise.
“Many savvy employees are proactively accessing technology such as mobile devices, smartphones, and even laptops without the official approval of the IT department. And many employees expect the corporate IT department to provide them with the flexibility to use their own devices for work-related activities,” said the Forrester analysts.
“That change, combined with new cloud and virtualisation technology, is driving a shift in the way companies think about delivering and managing PCs, applications, and devices for their workforce.”
Among the five highlighted forces the analyst firm said are redefining how IT is used within the enterprise are:
Employees increasingly work in public places, on the road, and at home;
Employees using multiple devices to complete work activities amidst the increasing proliferation of the tablet and smartphone;
Employees increasingly willing to contribute their own money to choose devices; notably, the more career-focused employees are, the more freedom they seek;
Employees using various apps and services for work on multiple devices; and
The notion that traditional technology costs don’t scale globally.
Five forces dissected
According to data from Forrester’s ‘Workforce Employee Survey, Q4 2012,’ 26% of worldwide information workers conduct work from home at least one day a week.
“Twelve percent work in public places, such as coffee shops, at least one day a week, which is double the number who reported doing so in 2010 (see Figure 1, click to enlarge). Some workers even use their devices while they’re commuting or travelling.”
The authors also noted that employees are increasingly using many different devices for work each day, including laptops, desktops, smartphones, and tablets.
In Q4 2012, 85% of worldwide information workers used desktops, 48% used smartphones (up from 41% in 2011), and 21% used tablets for work (up from 15% in 2011), the report noted.
“Many employees also spend a significant amount of time using various devices for work each day. For example, 77% of worldwide information workers use desktops, 51% use laptops, 28% use smartphones, and 12% use tablets at least one hour a day for work activities,” said Johnson and Pelino.
Besides this, many workers are willing to pay for personally selected devices that they also use for work. Thirty six per cent of worldwide information workers who use laptops or desktops, and 48% of workers who use tablets, are willing to pay for some or all of these devices that they also use for work (see Figure 2, click to enlarge).
What’s more interesting is that career-focused employees who describe themselves as putting a lot of time and energy into their jobs are four times more willing to pay for a device of their choice that they use for work than employees who are not career-focused (see below, Figure 3, click to enlarge).
The study also highlighted the fact that employee application (app) adoption extends well beyond widely deployed word processing or spreadsheets on work computers or email and calendar applications on smartphones.
“Twenty seven per cent of employees access a line of business application (for sales, marketing, field service) for work on a computer; 25% use a tablet; and 16% use a smartphone.
“Also, Forrester’s survey shows that 17% to 30% of global information workers access file-sync apps from smartphones, computers, or tablets for work, and 19% to 31% use public social networks such as Facebook or LinkedIn on these devices for work.”
Lastly, most firms have large teams of people filling PC management and support roles, leading to a life-cycle cost of nearly US$1,800 per PC — and that doesn’t cover the cost of all of the business applications, the report said.
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