The majority of IT managers aren't properly preparing for the growth of Apple's iPhone, handsets based on Google's Android and all manner of smartphone platforms in the enterprise, according to a new Forrester Research report.
Forrester Research analyst Michele Pelino polled 5,519 technology users in Canada, France, Germany, the U.K. and the United States from SMB (small and midsize businesses) and enterprise companies with 20 or more employees.
Pelino said most IT managers and even vendors are underestimating demand because they are failing to recognize two emerging segments of employees: mobile "wannabes" and mobile "mavericks," which together comprise 22 percent of all employees.
Mobile wannabes, Pelino explained, are often at their desks so IT does not count them as mobile workers even though they want to use their smartphones for work. Mobile wannabe workers can include executive assistants, human resource workers and customer service representatives.
Hewing to the classic example of the consumerization of IT, mobile maverick employees buy their own smartphones and download their own productivity and communications apps to do their jobs on the go.
What are corporate road warriors doing on these phones/computers?
They're using mobile apps for e-mail, calendar and voice, of course. However, half of the employees use navigation applications and instant messaging services, and one quarter of those surveyed admitted to using Twitter, LinkedIn and other social mobile apps for work.
Pelino said knowledge workers expect to receive support for from the corporate IT team as they use their smartphones to remain productive while they are on the road.
Fortunately for these worker groups, 55 percent of firms Forrester surveyed provide some level of support to mobile devices employees purchase.
"The expanded smartphone support by many enterprises is evident by the fact that 18 percent of employees use smartphones for work, up sharply from 13 percent just one year ago," Pelino wrote in her report Feb. 16. "We expect this momentum to continue as new flavors of smartphones like Android-based phones make their way into the hands of employees."
Classic examples of Android smartphone developed for the enterprise include the Motorola Droid Pro, which is heavily integrated with Microsoft Exchange, and the Motorola Atrix 4G, whose Webtop app and docking stations enable users to port their smartphone content to a larger computer display.
Pelino said businesses' IT departments need to accommodate the wannabes and mavericks, whose numbers she expects to hit 42 percent by 2015. Vendors must modify their solution building and marketing plans for these segments.
As popular as the army of Android handsets has become, vendors should perhaps start first with iPhone, the most popular singular smartphone in the world at this point.
Apple shipped 16.24 million iPhones alone in the December quarter and has been hiring enterprise experts from rival Research In Motion to boost its attractiveness to business buyers.