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Mobile Access To Software: A Tremendous Opportunity

The following IFS survey offers an extensive projection on how manufacturing professionals will access enterprise data remotely.

This study was conducted by IFS North America and Mint Jutras, an independent research-based consulting firm that specializes in analyzing the business impact of enterprise applications. This is part one of a two-part survey. Part two will appear in Friday's Latewire.


In mid-2011, a study was conducted among manufacturing executives and professionals of middle market to large manufacturers to better understand their interest in and demand for mobile device access to enterprise applications.

This study illuminates:

  • How enterprise software is currently accessed via mobile devices,
  • What types of mobile applications and interfaces respondents are most interested in,
  • How mobile interfaces may change the way we work.

Major Areas Explored

  • Which mobile devices are used now and anticipated replacements
  • Where and how people access (or would like to access) enterprise software from a mobile device
  • Priority placed on the mobile interface
  • How much time respondents spend working remotely
  • The degree to which respondents work outside of normal business hours
  • How the amount of personal time spent may increase or decrease with mobile access to enterprise software

Key Findings

  • Manufacturing professionals view the mobile interface as an important consideration in enterprise software selection
  • Few respondents currently rate access to enterprise software from their mobile device highly and many have no access today
  • The mobile interface is more important to respondents who regularly work during personal time than to those who work primarily during business hours

Device Preference

Blackberry Dominates Now…

  • More than half of respondents (53 percent) indicated that the Blackberry was the mobile device currently used (followed by iPhone at 29 percent and Android at 20 percent)
  • But not for long…
  • “What mobile device(s) will you likely acquire for work when it is time to replace your current unit?”
  • Phone will take the lead (42 percent), followed by Blackberry (37 percent)
  • Android gains (26 percent) but won’t lead

Does Age Matter? Devices Currently Used

  • One might expect the Blackberry would be used more heavily by older respondents and Androids and iPhones more by younger respondents
  • True, but even among the 18-34 year age category, Blackberry is still dominant
  • This may be due to the fact that Blackberry is still the preferred company-issued smartphone
  • Where the choice of device is left to the individual… the Blackberry is less focused on consumer applications and more focused strictly on business use

Blending Business and Personal Time

  • Respondents that worked outside of business hours were more likely to use a Blackberry instead of an iPhone or Android
  • Think of it this way…
    • Does your device bring business to your personal life (often with a Blackberry)? Or…
    • Do you bring your personal life into the office via an Android or iPhone?

What about the new tablets?

  • iPads dominate over other tablets, but with still a relatively small percentage carrying them for business use
  • While the iPad appears to be poised for significant percentage growth, its small initial share among this sample means that even its projected 114 percent gain still means it lags smartphones in terms of actual use

Accessibility of Application From a Mobile Device

  • This small percentage (27 percent) is likely influenced by the limited mobile connectivity of the enterprise applications themselves
  • Connectivity requires a modern underlying technology not available on legacy applications and older versions of software
  • While a negligible few rate their level of accessibility as excellent, a third to almost one half (varying by application) have little or no access
  • Respondents accessing CRM via a mobile device are more likely to have access, but no more likely to rate it as excellent

Relative Priority of Mobile Functions

* 0 (would not use) 1 (would be useful) 2 (must have)

Survey respondents were asked to prioritize various tasks that could be performed with enterprise applications using a mobile device. A handful of tasks were rated more highly than others. One thing that these tasks have in common is that they all deliver real time data and facilitate time-sensitive processes and all allow the user to actively participate in business processes using the mobile device.

Again, the more personal time spent (outside business hours), the more importance was placed on being able to perform these tasks.

Tasks which were lower in priority were those less critical to actually conducting business transactions. While it might be a time saver to approve time off or other personnel requests remotely, there is no direct negative impact in delaying those activities.

Where people work outside the office has a bearing on the priority of mobile access. Those working at home, in hotels or on customer sites may have access to a reliable internet connection in these locations, as well as a suitable place to work on a laptop. But in public places, the lack of a stable wireless connection and the lack of a suitable work surface make mobile access more critical.

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