Enterprise Mobility: The Future is Now

by Brian Duckering of Symantec

Throughout the modern history of business, there have been countless technological innovations that have improved the way companies work. However, a few stand out from the rest in their capacity to disrupt the status quo. Perhaps the most obvious recent examples of such technological advances are the PC and the Internet. For younger generations, it is nearly impossible to imagine doing business (or anything for that matter) without these technologies, and for older generations, it is painful to imagine ever going back to the way things were before them.

We call these “disruptive technologies” and we are now witnessing another such technology firmly entrench itself in the business world: mobile devices. Smartphones are now being used by hundreds of millions of people throughout the world to access corporate information to keep up with today’s 24/7 business cycle. Indeed, the current generation entering the workforce and future generations will wonder how business was ever done without such devices.

To learn the extent of mobility’s reach into the enterprise and organizations’ perception of the benefits and challenges of the ever increasing swarm of devices flowing into and out of their infrastructures, Symantec recently fielded a survey of 6,275 organizations of all sizes in 43 countries. The survey shows that we have reached a tipping point in the business use of mobile devices. However, this all comes with a price, both in terms of resources and risks. Despite this, most organizations feel the benefits are worth the risks.

The enterprise mobility tipping point

The survey highlights how mobile devices have become essential tools for doing business. Employees are seeing significantly improved productivity by being able to access business resources from anywhere at any time and as a result, 59 percent of respondents to the survey said their companies are now making line-of-business applications accessible from mobile devices.

Even more impressive is that mobile device enablement is commonplace enough that nearly three out of four businesses are now looking at implementing a corporate “app store” for mobile applications.

Just why is it that so many organizations are going all-in on mobility?

The survey asked about the most important business benefits companies hope to achieve from mobility and the top answers were a desire for increased efficiency, increased workplace effectiveness, and reduced time required to accomplish tasks. Taken together, these represent major business agility gains.

Ask any IT manager and they will tell you that such expectations of implementing a new technology are rarely ever matched by the results. Amazingly though, when it comes to mobility the survey shows that expectations much more closely match reality. For example, about three-quarters of businesses expected to increase efficiency through mobile computing and 73 percent actually realized that gain.

Interestingly, the survey showed that these results largely held true for both small businesses and enterprises alike; with efficiency being the top goal across the board. Enterprises were slightly more optimistic in the benefits they would realize but did do as well as they expected. SMBs, on the other hand, had slightly lower expectations that were exceeded. The main difference was that smaller businesses were less likely than enterprises to have plans regarding custom apps or corporate app stores.