The corporate embrace of mobile technologies continues, but new research released today by CompTIA, the ICT Industry Trade Association, suggests many companies have yet to implement new policies and processes to tap into mobility's full potential.
Mobile devices are clearly changing the equation for workforce computing. Among UK companies that distribute devices to employees, 85 percent are deploying smartphones, according to CompTIA's Third Annual Trends in Enterprise Mobility study. That's very close to the 87 percent of firms that provide laptops to employees. Additionally, 63 percent of companies are deploying tablets.
"The new norm is quickly becoming one employee, three devices," said Seth Robinson, director, technology analysis, CompTIA. "PCs, smartphones and tablets will all remain major components in the workplace for some time."
But handling these devices – from procurement to management – is a major challenge for many organisations.
- Small companies are hampered by a lack of resources. For example, device integration and remote support require a combination of specialised skills, infrastructure and bandwidth a small company may not have in house.
- For medium-sized firms, the fact that there are more resources to deal with creates a different set of problems. Balancing the needs of end users and the requirements of the IT department tops the list of challenges for mid-sized companies.
- Integrating devices is also the top challenge for the largest firms, but the issue is one of complexity rather than lack of resources. The sheer numbers of employees and devices makes integration a much greater undertaking. The same is true for support.
The CompTIA study also suggests that the development of organisation-wide mobility policies is somewhat behind the adoption of mobile devices.
Among UK companies, 28 percent currently have a formal mobility policy in place; 31 percent are currently building a policy; 24 percent only share with their employees best practices to follow; and 16 percent have no set policy or practices in place. The percentage of UK companies with policies is on par with their U.S. counterparts, while the other categories are slightly lower.
"Policy formation is an important step in building a mobility plan that aligns with business objectives," Robinson advised. "By drawing various lines of business together and discussing the business requirements along with any IT concerns, companies can set priorities and establish procedures for addressing issues as changes are needed."
To BYOD or Not BYOD
Over half of UK companies still handle all mobile device deployment and do not allow outside devices. A very small percentage of firms (4 percent) have embraced a full BYOD policy where employees provide all devices. This low percentage is somewhat surprising, given the UK's stronger inclination to have smartphones and tablets in their workforce as primary work devices.
A notable difference between the UK and U.S. workforces is in the areas of where people work and how much they travel.
UK firms see slightly more employees working full time from home than in the U.S. (11 percent UK vs. 8 percent U.S.). There is an even greater difference in employees who split their time between a home office and a physical company location (25 percent UK vs. 15 percent U.S.).
When it comes to business travel, there is a much larger contrast. UK firms estimate that 60 percent of their employees have some travel, compared to 47 percent of employees at U.S. firms.
The Third Annual Trends in Enterprise Mobility study is based on an online survey of 400 business and IT executives in the United States and 250 in the UK who are directly involved in setting or executing mobility policies and processes within their organization. The survey was conducted in March 2014.
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