Corporate IT managers and vendors are badly underestimating the future demand for mobility devices and services in the enterprise arena, overlooking a new emerging class of mobile workers that rely on smart phones. Underestimating these new mobile users could have a significant impact on device manufacturers, application vendors, middleware providers and network operators aiming to capture a share of the mobile market.
Dubbed as mobile “wannabes” by Forrester Research, this new class of workers represents just 6 percent of the present work force, but Forrester estimates that they will grow to 25 percent of workers within the next four years. In fact, Forrester estimates 73 percent of the work force will be considered some sort of mobile worker by 2012.
“Mobility, as we know it today, is about to be eclipsed by demand from all types of workers who want to use their personal mobile devices to access corporate applications,” writes analyst Michele Pelino in a new Forrester report.
Pelino says today’s IT managers too narrowly define mobile workers as on-the-road executives or managers, telecommuters or field service employees. They currently represent approximately 20 percent of the work force.
“Many mobile information workers often bring their personal devices into the workplace and generally pay for these devices on their own,” states the report. “In addition, these individuals expect to receive support for their mobility requirements from the corporate IT team.”
While these employees purchase their own devices, Forrester surveys show nearly a third of smart phone users expense all or some of their monthly bills for wireless voice services to their employers, while 40 percent expense the cost of their wireless data access to their company.
Enter the Millennials
According to Forrester, mobile wannabes include executive assistants, human resource workers and finance department employees who are generally at their desks most of the day but use smart phones to access e-mail and other corporate applications while commuting to work or while away from their desks. Adding to these workers are Millennials, workers younger than 30 years of age who have come to expect mobile support.
“These Millennials are technology natives who enter the work force with the expectation that companies will support their mobile application needs whether they are formally classified as mobile workers or not,” writes Pelino.
This dramatic growth of mobile workers, whatever the definition, over the next few years presents opportunities for vendors, device makers, application developers and network operators alike.
Since most of this growing class purchase their own devices, Pelino says network operators should market their services to appeal to both consumers and mobile workers. Mobile network operators, for instance, should offer pricing plans with a variety of price points for mobile and data service plans.
“These service plans enable mobile worker wannabes who get mobile and/or data plans reimbursed by the company to select a plan that fits their usage profile and corporate reimbursement requirements,” the report states. “Wannabes without a corporate reimbursement plan can use lower price point service options.”
Device makers, the report contends, must consider dual usage needs during the device development process as it has “implications for battery life, keyboard requirements, device size and form factors.”
Finally, enterprise application and software vendors should make mobile-friendly models.
“We believe that corporate IT departments are going to provide only minimal support to mobile wannabes because these individuals are not the high-priority mobile users in the organization,” the report states. “As a result, application developers must design user-friendly, easy-to-use applications for wannabes and prepare to provide additional customer service and support for these application users.”