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How are enterprises adjusting to the 'new normal' of mobile?

How are Europe's enterprises coping with a mobility market moving at light speed?

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Results from the European biannual sample of IDC's 2012 EMEA Enterprise Mobility CIO Survey, fielded in April/May of this year, illustrate that many are struggling to keep up. In Europe, we telephone survey approximately 420 CIOs, IT managers and business decision makers across 7 countries (UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Netherlands and Sweden), in 9 industry verticals and 6 company size classifications every six months to keep abreast of rapid enterprise mobility developments. We have highlighted and analyzed some of the key results and transitions from 2011 below.

I. Mobile working and spending growing, but firms lack a strategy

European enterprises expect mobile working to accelerate in the next 12 months, spurred on by greater flexibility, customer service and productivity benefits. 35 percent of those surveyed believe their mobile workforce will grow over the next year, with 15 percent believing it will grow more than 10 percent, according to the results. 25 percent of the survey said they will spend more on mobile over the next 12 months as a percentage of their IT budgets than they did in 2011.

At the same time, close to half of those surveyed (48 percent) do not yet have a mobility strategy in place for their business. While 10 percent plan to create one in the next 12 months, the results indicate that despite an increase in mobile working and spending, most European firms including SMBs, German, Italian and Spanish enterprises in particular, largely view mobility tactically within their organisations.

II. Mobility cost barriers accelerating

This year, the connectivity cost and availability challenge reared its head again (it was last a dominant top barrier in 2009, a recession year) as the single biggest enterprise mobility challenge listed by respondents (13 percent), ahead of common consumerisation of IT hurdles such as protecting data on mobile devices (11 percent) and integrating mobility within existing IT infrastructure (10 percent).

Cost is also a growing barrier to many 1st generation mobile solution deployments as well. When asked "what are the biggest mobile deployments issues faced in the past 12 months?" "Cost Overrun" was listed as the top problem faced by 34 percent of respondents (and almost half of all French CIOs). This beat security and compliance problems (29 percent), complexity of management and support (27 percent) and challenges with database integration (26 percent). 

IDC believes most firms still don't have a handle on their escalating mobile costs which will continue to be a crucial barrier to enterprise mobility throughout this year and next, especially as the macro-economic situation across the euro-zone becomes increasingly volatile and mobile working, cloud computing and BYOD - all critical trends that can escalate mobile costs - accelerate.

III. Laptop and smartphone devices reign supreme

Despite the rate of PC decline in Europe (-9 percent in 2011), laptops as well as smartphones remain the preferred devices for mobile workers according to CIOs. When asked "what percentage of your mobile workforce currently uses the following devices?", laptops (47 percent) and smartphones (47 percent) in equal measure came out on top, followed by conventional mobile phones (38 percent), netbooks (8 percent) and media tablets (6 percent).  When asked the same question in 18 months time, again laptops and smartphones were top with growth in each category, while the penetration of netbooks and conventional mobile phones were predicted to decline.  Surprisingly, growth in media tablets, largely a niche device today in the enterprise which are not yet fully displacing laptops, remains flat over the next 18 months. This indicates that many CIOs still don't yet see the use case, cost models and ultimate role enterprise-wide tablets play within their desktop environment.

IV. OS wars heat up: Apple set to dethrone RIM in 12 months

While mobile diversity is the new standardization in the enterprise, Apple in particular is quickly emerging the top preferred OS and is poised to dethrone RIM's long held incumbency over the next 12-18 months according to the results. When asked "what percentage of your device fleet (phones and tablets) currently use the following operating systems?" Apple, at 29 percent, has almost reached parity with the once corporate liable standard RIM (31 percent).  When asked same question for 18 months time, respondents listed Apple as top (31 percent), next to RIM's 27 percent for the first time in the survey's history.

Ominously for competitors, Apple's future in Europe's enterprises looks even rosier. As firms build their mobile app development and deployment strategies in the next 12-18 months, many will pick Apple, further entrenching the platform within IT departments.  In fact, close to half of the survey (46 percent), said they plan to write apps to a maximum of just 2 mobile OS' over the next 12 months.

The OS story doesn't end there. Android, at 22 percent share, has rocketed to third place (from 5th place a year ago), well overtaking declining platforms Symbian (5 percent) and Windows Mobile (4 percent).  Android's growth, strongest in SMBs and in Sweden, Netherlands and Spain in particular, is even more remarkable given the significant IT concerns that exist around its fragmentation and security.  Additionally, Microsoft's Windows Phone gathered on average 6 percent of devices, with strength in Sweden and Germany, according to respondents, despite lacking several key enterprise security features.

BYOD? BIG difference between tolerance & managed programs

BYOD is all the hype at the moment and whilst many organisations tolerate personal devices on their networks to a certain extent, concerns over data leakage, lack of control and an increasing administration and support burden render the implementation of formal, managed BYOD programs - backed by clear BYOD policy and governance - rare in Europe today. We estimate that just 20 percent of European orgs currently have a formal BYOD policy in place with up to 15 percent of firms, notably many large organisations and MNCs, currently evaluating.

Most respondents believe providing greater employee choice in terms of devices and applications is a necessary part of future IT strategy. BYOD could enable this aim plus offer potential benefits such as greater productivity, collaboration and employee satisfaction. But the survey shows there is still a high level of reticence and immaturity indicated by the high percentage of firms that haven't yet implemented a multi-platform mobility management and security solution (79 percent), a fundamental part of a successful managed BYOD program, as well as a mobility strategy for their organisation overall (58 percent).

Mobility management & security is now

Perhaps because of this, European CIOs are awakening to the importance of mobile management and security. 19 percent of the survey said they are planning to deploy a multi-OS mobility management solution within the next 12 months, with an array of vendors and service providers being evaluated. Additionally, when asked "what are the most critical technologies in supporting your mobile workforce?", mobility management and security gathered 18 percent of votes, well ahead of all other technologies listed including mobile collaboration (12 percent), international roaming services (9 percent) and consumer productivity apps on personal devices (9 percent).

Firms immature but evaluating mobile apps

Interest in security and management is contrasted by more immaturity regarding mobile applications. According to the results, while close to 40 percent of the survey are currently evaluating their mobile application strategies, just 16 percent have launched their first mobile app and 21 have no plans to develop or deploy applications at all in the next 12 months. When asked those evaluating or deploying mobile applications "how many mobile OS platforms do they plan to write to?", 32 percent didn't know, the highest selection. 

Still, 60 percent do plan to invest in developer resource to deploy apps in the next 12-18 months, 40 percent with their own IT staff according to the results, suggesting that wider scale deployment of mobile applications is imminent in 2012/13. They types of apps listed as highest priority by respondents included office apps, file management and collaboration, field service and unified communications.

Specialist trusted advisors needed for managed services

The trusted advisor battle on enterprise mobility strategy is emerging a critical one. Last year, enterprise mobility outsourcing and managed services interest doubled according to our surveys. Firms need help architecting mobile solutions that address risk management and drive innovation, growth and business transformation in their firms.  But recognising "keeping up" isn't their core business, they are turning to service providers for help.  52 percent of those surveyed this year prefer either a hybrid or fully outsourced approach to enterprise mobility focused on critical areas such as mobile UC (36 percent), management and security (35 percent) and mobile application management (32 percent). App management in particular, has entered the top three preferred outsourced areas for the first time in our survey.

When asked "what type of a trusted partner would you prefer to source a mobility solution from?", respondents indicated clear preferences for specialist mobility knowledge. Mobile operators (47 percent) came out on top (largely preferred option for SMBs), followed by mobility implementation specialists (38 percent), systems integrators (37 percent) and Mobile ISVs (32 percent). Firms with dedicated mobility and integration capabilities were favoured over more traditional ICT telcos, IT providers and IT VARs for example.    

So what does all this mean? Firms are adjusting to the "New Normal"

The past month's frenetic market activity is indicative of the "new normal" in mobility which many European enterprises are struggling to adapt to. The results show us that while mobility is accelerating, so are its costs (and risks) and that many European firms, operating in a tough macro-economic climate, haven't yet made the investments in critical mobile technologies such as mobility management and security and mobile applications.  The survey also reveals, perhaps most importantly, that most firms don't yet fully understand how mobility can strategically drive their business goals and how a mobility strategy is necessary to achieve their aims.

Whilst our 1H 2012 European Enterprise Mobility Survey does reveal progress in enterprise support of Apple devices, interest in managed services from specialist providers and the high number evaluating key mobile solutions for their firms, Europe's enterprises are clearly taking a more measured route to embracing a strategic view of mobility.  We shall see if this changes over the next critical 6 month period in enterprise mobility!

Posted by Nicholas McQuire, Research Director, Enterprise Mobility EMEA, IDC
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