Mobility: On The Move And In Control (Part I)

Mobility as a solution has moved from being a voice-centric to a data-centric solution focusing on smartphones and tablets with access to corporate data, and this is creating a whole new set of challenges for CIOs and information technology managers.

This IDC White Paper, sponsored by IFS, explores how companies are embracing strategies for mobile ERP solutions. It also looks at the types of solutions they have and what direction their investments in mobility is taking compared with other IT areas.

The survey was carried out in nine countries with a total of 455 phone interviews and Web survey responses in a number of industry verticals across Europe, Australia, and the United States. In the survey, respondents indicated what current mobile capabilities they provide to their workforce, as well as specific drivers for investing in mobility solutions.

Mobility is Strategically Important

Mobility as a solution has moved from being a voice-centric to a data-centric solution focusing on smartphones and tablets with access to corporate data, and this is creating a whole new set of challenges for CIOs and IT managers. As can be seen in this paper, the use of mobile solutions has established itself as an interface to email solutions, but is growing steadily as a tool for collaborative solutions, other types of communications, and push information to mobile workers.

Over half of companies today have a strategy for their mobile ERP solutions. One in five companies has a strategy that it reviews regularly and includes return on investment (ROI) follow up in its work. This shows that organizations are preparing for a mobile workforce and the changes it brings. However, nearly a third of companies still have no plans at all.


It is worth noting that 14% have earmarked funds for mobile solutions in their budgets while not having plans on how to use that money. 

IT departments are the main owner of deciding, budgeting, and purchasing mobile solutions across the board. The integration of voice competences into traditional IT competences is a critical success factor for these departments.

IDC recommends that companies should develop a mobility plan as an internal roadmap and discuss this with their vendors. The roadmap should include key processes and systems to integrate as well as security and device management solutions.

Today's Use of Mobile ERP

Media tablets are becoming the new desktop and mobile collaboration devices. They are becoming increasingly popular as the enterprise end-user device of choice for accessing data on the move and collaborating with colleagues, especially among executives, professionals, and knowledge workers. Tablets can typically support voice and videoconferencing, email, IM, and social networking applications — all in one device. Along with cell phones and smartphones, IDC sees mobile devices eventually supplanting a sizeable portion of desktop IP phone revenue within the enterprise, which is remarkable considering the limited exposure the tablet has had in the market and the lack of specific unified communication features that are available today.

Apple is the leader in the tablet category, with the iPad having few competitors, but many are waiting to be launched. The hype around the iPad scrambled companies that work with mobile management to develop support for device management for the iPad. With the release of iOS 4 and 5, the features specifically for enterprise IT improved significantly, making the devices even more interesting for companies to deploy.

Worldwide media tablet shipments will grow from 19.4 million units in 2010 to more than 222 million units in 2016, according to IDC's Worldwide and U.S. Media Tablet 2012–2016 Forecast (IDC #235681, June 2012).

Media tablets remain a largely consumer-driven category. While there are a growing number of people utilizing tablets for work, the vast majority of those tablets were self-purchased. That is starting to change as more enterprises examine the productivity gains possible with the rollout of tablets.

According to IDC's Worldwide Smartphone 2012–2016 Forecast Update: June 2012 (IDC #235193), the worldwide smartphone market will reach 686 million units in 2012. Smartphones will continue to be emphasized by vendors and carriers, and broad device availability, lower price points, and strong end-user demand will continue to fuel smartphone growth in the short term. IDC believes that worldwide smartphone shipments will reach 1,246.0 million units in 2016.

In the survey, IFS and IDC asked respondents about how mobility is impacting the way they work. The survey shows that of the most common features used on mobile devices, email was the most popular, followed by collaboration solutions, including forums, team sites, online meetings and desktop sharing, and other communications such as instant messaging and voice over IP.

Email has been the core mobile application for a number of years. Collaborative features look like they will become the next wave of important features to include in tablets and smartphones.

Over the last few years, collaboration features have increased in popularity on mobile devices and vendors have increased their investments to provide access to these features for mobile users. With the growth of tablets, the benefits of collaboration features increased even more, and IDC expects this to increase over the coming years.

The focus for future integration into mobile environments lies in enabling better customer care and customer relationship management by integrating the company CRM solutions into the mobile solution, making the mobile devices a core component in companies' business development processes.

Almost a third (29%) of companies use email on their mobile devices today, but considering the benefits of mobile mail, this is fairly low. Using email on mobile devices is a global trend, but, based on the survey, many companies are still not enabling this feature for their employees.

Email is the most used mobile capability across the survey countries, peaking in France, Denmark, and Germany, with the lowest level reported in the United States. Australia and the U.K. report the highest number of companies that provide collaboration solutions for their employees' mobile devices.

Main Mobility Inhibitors

Mobility solutions are not easy to implement, control, and administer, and the survey highlights that there are many inhibitors that hinder the deployment of solutions that benefit from the qualities of the mobile device and tablets.

The number 1 inhibitor by far, when asked to identify the top three obstacles for investing in and using mobile solutions, was security aspects. Security concerns were selected by most respondents as their first and second top concern. Of the survey companies only France indicated that company policy was a bigger main inhibitor, followed by security aspects at number 2.

In general the countries are fairly homogenous in their views on what hinders them to invest in and deploy mobility solutions. Poland has the greatest variety in terms of the top concern, selecting mobile network infrastructure and work process not adapted to mobile solutions after security concerns.

Many companies report that they have not adapted their company policy to mobile working. This is an area in which many corporate CIOs and IT managers must focus their efforts. IT policies without clear support for mobile working are not future proof as more IT investments move to virtual solutions, cloud, and mobility.

Compared with concerns around security of mobile solutions, cost is not a major inhibitor for companies investing in mobile solutions, but it is in the top three concerns mentioned.

Taking all of the responses into account (first, second, and third mentioned obstacles), security was the largest inhibitor, as mentioned above. Cost followed security as a major obstacle, and vendors need to simplify how to integrate mobility solutions into existing back-end systems.

Overall, the third most picked concern (first, second, and third mentioned obstacles) was the lack of mobile solution adaption of current work processes. This is reflected as well in that companies have not adapted their policies to mobile working. This is a major challenge for company CIOs in the near future and will have a direct impact on the company's ability to compete, provide customer support, and recruit talent. 

To see Part 2 of this study, please click here.

About the Study

The survey was performed in nine countries (Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Poland, Germany, United Kingdom, Australia, United States, and France) with a total of 455 phone interviews and web survey responses in a number of industry verticals. The survey targeted CIO or IT Managers who were decision-makers regarding mobile solutions, budgets and strategies. The respondents indicated what current mobile capabilities they provide to their workforce, but also specific drivers for investing in mobility solutions. Over half of the responding companies (52%) belong to one of five industry verticals: Industrial manufacturing, Process manufacturing, Retail, Construction & Contracting and Service Provider.

About IDC

International Data Corporation (IDC) is the premier global provider of market intelligence, advisory services, and events for the information technology, telecommunications and consumer technology markets. IDC helps IT professionals, business executives, and the investment community make fact-based decisions on technology purchases and business strategy. More than 1000 IDC analysts provide global, regional, and local expertise on technology and industry opportunities and trends in over 110 countries worldwide. For more than 47 years, IDC has provided strategic insights to help our clients achieve their key business objectives. IDC is a subsidiary of IDG, the world's leading technology media, research, and events company. More information on IDC is available at

About IFS

IFS is a public company (OMX STO: IFS) founded in 1983 that develops, supplies, and implements IFS Applications™, a component-based extended ERP suite built on SOA technology and IFS Matrix Service Management. IFS focuses on industries where any of these four core processes are strategic: service & asset management, manufacturing, supply chain and projects. The company has 2,000 customers and is present in more than 60 countries with 2,800 employees in total. For more information about IFS, please visit: