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Mobility β€” On The Move And In Control (Part 2)

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.

Part 1 of this story can be read here.  

Increasing Mobility Investments Driven by Employee Productivity and Lower Costs

Globally the main driver across the board is the belief that mobile solutions will offer increased employee productivity and lower costs. There are of course costs involved in supporting a mobile workforce but some companies are able to work out a quick ROI based on cost savings on telecom expenses. For example, incorporating a UC client in mobile devices enables employees to contact their customers or business associates overseas without incurring costly international charges. There are also fixed/mobile convergence (FMC) solutions that allow users to roam seamlessly from the mobile networks to their corporate WiFi, thereby reducing mobile charges.

The U.S., Sweden, and Norway are the most optimistic about the mobile solution's ability to increase productivity and lower costs. These countries also report the highest usage of collaboration solutions on mobile devices. Their experience is clearly leading them to believe that there is much to gain from moving to mobile solutions.

Secondly, mobility is seen as a way to stay competitive in the industry that the company is active in. The combination of more efficient staff and lower costs can lead to a better competitive situation, until the whole industry uses the same type of solutions, then other drivers will be key.

Australia and the U.S. are most positive in their view of mobility as a competitive advantage. France is a mature mobile market where companies do not feel that mobility is a key competitive factor.

The third top area that drives investments in mobility solutions according to our survey is the possibility of entering real-time data into office systems to improve data quality. The industry is very innovative as to how companies can benefit from using mobile devices. This includes all industries, from the services industry, such as restaurants, to healthcare, where doctors and nurses use media tablets to access medical journals, to the transportation industry dispatching information using push technology to mobile devices across the globe. The automobile industry is increasingly integrating mobile solutions into cars and trucks to enable voice control, better hands-free solutions, and direct connection to the Internet for passengers.

Not many companies view mobile solutions as a means to expand geographically, nor do they view them as a way to enter into new go-to-market models. Rather the view is that mobility solutions will enable them to build better business practices, stay competitive, and benefit from real-time data entry.

Some mobility solutions are an HR challenge as well. It is interesting to note that even if mobile devices have penetrated the lives of most end users today, one in 10 companies still believe that a mobile solution will enable them to attract and retain talent. The possibility of allowing employees to use whatever device they want ("bring your own device," or BYOD) is a growing concern for many IT departments and solutions that support these are gaining traction.

On average, one in every 10 dollars spent on IT goes to mobility solutions today. This, however, looks like it will increase in the near future. On average the increase will be about 12%, but Poland and the U.S. are more bullish about future investments in mobile technology.

In general, companies in Poland are split between keeping the same level of investments and increasing them, and companies in the U.S. are more convinced that they will increase in the next three years but they both report the same level of increase.

France has the highest number of respondents indicating that they will lower their investments in mobile solutions. France also had the highest number of respondents selecting company policy as their main inhibitor. These results indicate that companies here are fairly satisfied with their current solutions and that their focus is now mainly internal.

Companies based in the U.K. are the most likely to keep current investment levels, while other countries are more likely to invest more than before.

Mobility implementations are not one-time solutions. They must evolve over time to take advantage of new developments. Integration opportunities will also develop over time as support systems are upgraded and new features added. Cloud and virtualization solutions will in addition enable a whole range of new possibilities for users of mobile devices.

Investments in the near future are going into improving employee productivity as well as improving sales and customer care to secure competitive advantage. Our survey found that customer care/sales with integration to the company's CRM system are the key focus of investment in the future. Ensuring a competitive advantage and enabling an even more productive workforce that gets access to correct data, even when they are on the move, is a critical success factor in the future and a major focus for mobility solutions.

Nearly one in five companies will focus their investments on enabling mobile solutions for field service management. This is particularly clear in Poland, France, and the U.S.

There are some regional differences to investments outside of the focus on investing in enabling mobile access to CRM solutions. Germany shows interest in mobile warehouse management, while Poland is also looking at field service management. Sweden, the U.K., Australia, and Norway show a wide spread of interest besides CRM, which indicates that they are prepared to invest in many mobile areas.

Strategic Direction of Mobile ERP Investments in the Next Three Years

Mobility solutions are an area that will continue to be the focus for many companies. The BYOD concept will shift some investments away from deploying devices to implementing systems to administer and secure privately owned devices so they will be safe to use for corporate data.

That said, the main focus of companies' mobile solution investments will still mainly be to roll out smartphone devices and tablets, followed by supporting enterprise apps for smartphones and tablets.

Mobile device management (MDM) will be a key functionality for mobility solutions to handle security, policy, and integration to back-office systems. Without a clear MDM solution it will be near impossible to secure a mobile device and enable full or partial wipe in case of theft or loss of device. These MDM solutions can be hosted or premises based and they enable a company to maintain and develop a policy for application, usage, and if necessary create a company specific app store. It is worth noting that only 7% said MDM will be the focus of their strategic investment in the next three years. It could be that this area is a target for outsourcing instead of direct investments as many telecom providers today offer MDM as a service practice to limit the direct investments necessary.

Looking specifically at the rollout of devices such as smartphones and tablets, companies show a clear preference for iOS devices such as the iPhone and iPad ahead of Android and Windows 8 based devices.

Even with the launch of devices with larger screens using Android, most organizations still focus on Apple's iPhone. It is also interesting to note that BlackBerry maintains a large share in the survey. Globally, according to IDC's Worldwide Smartphone 2012–2016 Forecast Update: June 2012 (IDC #235193), Research In Motion (which developed the BlackBerry) has a market share of 6.4%.

IT department investments are also focusing on cloud solutions in general and offer opportunities for a mobile workforce to gain access to desktop environments as if they were on traditional computers or laptops. Our survey found that new distribution models such as cloud are the focus of about 5 in every 100 companies' investments in mobility solutions. With smartphones and tablet devices, access to corporate data via virtual desktops and cloud-based applications employee productivity as well as support for BYOD can become even more pervasive. The concept of a private corporate app store is still in its very early stages for investments today. Distribution models for private or corporate apps will rely on other methods in the near future.

Companies are very clear on where they want mobility apps to go, namely in the same way as their near-term investments. 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. One in every four responses will focus on integrating CRM applications into a mobile solution using current budgets and this is also the killer app that almost three out of 10 are saying they would want as a killer mobile app.

Excluding the others category, companies in the U.S. are looking for CRM integration or BI integration as the killer app. No other country in the survey leans so strongly toward BI integration.

Germany and Norway would pick a product catalogue app if they got to choose a killer app after CRM integration, but Sweden, Denmark, Poland, the U.K., and

Australia would prefer an approvals and authorization app for requisitions, purchase orders, supplier invoices, and purchase requisitions.


Mobility Matters and Investments are Increasing

Mobility solutions are evolving, and their focus is changing from voice centric to a business enabler. Companies are looking to increase their investments in mobility solutions and their focus is clearly on business enabling apps, such as access to customer relationship management systems, but also for the growing area of collaborative solutions and other communications such as instant messaging.

Email remains the most used capability on smartphones and tablets, used by one in three organizations. Today almost one in six companies uses mobile devices to enable collaboration solutions and other communication on mobile devices.

For the future, companies will be investing more than currently as a portion of their IT budget and focus is on integrations that create value, such as business development, customer care, and improving employee efficiency.

IDC recommends that companies take a strategic look at the opportunities that mobility can offer in terms of increasing competitive advantage by reducing cost or increasing employee efficiency or improving the business processes.

The main obstacle for using mobile solutions are security, but investments in solutions that can secure a mobile workforce such as mobile device management are still no higher than the top four, indicating that there is a need to grow understanding about how to secure mobile devices and tablets.

IDC recommends, in collaboration with mobility solution vendors, also discussing the use of mobile device management as a service or deploying on-premises to secure their mobile solutions and users' devices.

Devices with iOS as their operating system dominate the rollout plans in our survey. IDC recommends a strategy where companies focus on two or three mobile operating systems and not on the type of devices they support. BYOD is a way to allow users to use privately funded devices for work, and a good MDM solution will support BYOD users. 

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. 

Click here to see the full study. 

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 Applicationsβ„’, 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:


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