Mobile communications for business

Insights from Philip Hopley, Senior Partner, h2index

A recent h2index research study looked at how large corporations are responding to employee demands to use mobile devices of their choosing, not just the corporate standard.

Participants were all senior IT executives (e.g. Global IT Director) in businesses with over 100,000 technology users; operating in the international consumer goods, pharmaceutical, chemicals or financial service industries; and based in Europe or the US. Findings include:

Smart phone / tablet penetration:

  • In all but one of the participant companies, 10-17% of computer users also had a company supported smart phone – the other company (financial services sector) had 45% penetration.
  • All firms have a small amount of tablet usage – usually around 100 senior executives – with one exception, which had 6,000 tablet users (around 5% of computer users). The more significant deployment involved a pharmaceutical sales force (using tablets to sell tablets!)
  • Tablet preference is strongly in favour of iPads – which are predominantly used as laptop replacements, since the role of the senior executives using them is more about content consumption, than creation.
  • We are seeing signs that the lower usage companies will soon follow the leader in our study by expanding tablet usage – taking the number of devices from the hundreds into the thousands.
  • Given the predominance of iPads and the trend towards large-scale deployment – this suggests that Apple’s sales will continue to grow.

Consumerisation

  • Few major firms at the time of the study were strongly committed to employee device selection – just 1 company from the sample supported ‘Bring Your Own’ device usage – however all participants were looking at the options for future use of consumer devices (or business versions of them).
  • Structural changes in business activity such as increased outsourcing / partnering is driving companies to consider ‘Bring Your Own’ – since enabling access to the corporate network means either:
    • providing all partners / outsource workers with a company PC (a costly / high maintenance process),
    • or reconfiguring the network to allow access (or partial access) via partners own devices – thereby opening possibilities for employee choice.

PC tablets

  • A study carried out by a major US corporation a few months ago reinforced the results of our study by highlighting that none of the enterprise-ready tablets provided a viable alternative to the iPad (we may be able to provide a contact in the US for more on this if you are interested).

Managing and securing mobility

  • A good example of organisations already facing this dilemma are universities – think of 20,000 students arriving on one weekend and bringing just about any device imaginable. Mr Hopley also has a contact responsible for IT at a major university and may be able to arrange a telephone conversation.

You may also like to read our recent h2index IT security discussion paper (follow the link to access).