Work Force Mobility on the Rise, Survey Says

Cost-conscious companies are finding a mobile work force is increasingly beneficial to their business, a report by Kelton Research finds.

A survey of 500 U.S.- and U.K.-based small and midsize businesses by market research consultancy Kelton found midmarket companies are increasingly valuing mobility and 96 percent said they view their information technology departments as a strategic part of their business. Sixty-three percent of non-IT managers say remote access services make their staff more productive, and a majority said IT is not just for business devices anymore, with 68 percent of IT managers saying they provide support for personal technology, including computers and smartphones.

Despite the current global economy, the survey suggests things are looking up for some SMBs. For instance, nearly one in three (32 percent) managers surveyed report that revenue has increased in the past year. Moreover, 64 percent of SMBs report revenue growth taking priority over cost cutting. The survey was conducted in the third quarter of 2009 by Kelton on behalf of LogMeIn, a provider of remote connectivity solutions for midmarket businesses. The respondents were evenly split between non-IT and IT managers in the U.S. and UK.

Business mobility was of great importance to those businesses surveyed: More than six in ten (63 percent) managers and seven in ten (71 percent) IT managers agree that remote access services make their staff more productive. The survey also found that nearly a quarter (23 percent) of SMB employees work off-site at least once a week and about 12 percent of them work virtually. More than half (51 percent) of SMBs surveyed said they plan to increase their use of remote access services over the next six months.

"Our first SMB IT Pulse survey indicates that information technology is not only a requirement for small and medium sized businesses, it's a strategic enabler," said Andrew Burton, vice president of products for LogMeIn. "Whether end users are remaining productive while outside the office through remote access technologies or IT departments are expanding their support for consumer devices, business managers and IT providers are working together to make their organizations more productive and competitive every day."

IT managers in the survey believe that their department is viewed as a strategic part of the business by management, and that it has the resources it needs to function (96 percent and 88 percent respectively). Similarly, more than half (57 percent) of non-IT managers rate the quality of internal IT services provided as above average to excellent. One third of IT managers (30 percent) surveyed find explaining technical terms or programs the most difficult part about working with non-IT. Conversely, nearly the same number (28 percent) of non-IT managers felt turnaround time and responsiveness to be the most difficult part about working with their IT staff.

With regards to IT staff, the survey found more than six in ten (64 percent) non-IT managers say their companies operate without self-sufficient internal IT departments and 44 percent of IT managers say they use outsourced services to augment IT service delivery. Finally, the research discovered an adoption gap exists for some technologies. For example, adoption of virtual private networks (VPNs) is significantly lower among non-IT managers, suggesting a technical barrier may exist when it comes to traditional VPN technology.