Grading the Enterprise Road Warrior

— June 08, 2007

Traveling reduces productivity, without question.
So what's the true measure of mobile success?

Travel. The necessary evil for the growth of so many organizations around the world. In fact, AberdeenGroup's November 2006 benchmark report, "Enterprise Mobile Adoption: A Corporate Conundrum," showed that within the next 12 months mobile workers will account for 47 percent of the workforce of a typical organization. What's more, Aberdeen's latest research on enterprise mobility shows that organizations already consider 30 percent of their employees to be road warriors (i.e., those who spend at least 25 percent of their time traveling).

Aberdeen's research shows that the two greatest pressures organizations face are maintaining specific levels of customer service, regardless of where their employees are (59 percent of respondents), and keeping road warriors efficient at all times (53 percent of respondents). Increasingly, mobile workforces are fueling the adoption of mobile solutions to keep employees connected no matter where they are around the world.

As white-collar employees become more mobile - on average, 12 percent of their time is now spent traveling internationally - productivity and effectiveness while away from the office is critical. In fact, having high-performing road warriors can become a competitive differentiator for organizations.

In Support of Road Warriors
While organizations rate the performance of their road warriors as "high" or "very high" 68 percent of the time, how do they actually go about determining that score? When 29 percent of all organizations surveyed do not measure and an additional 28 percent don't know the productivity gained from mobility, how do they know if mobility is truly improving their road warriors' productivity? Specifically, how do they know if mobility is delivering on its promise of consistent productivity levels?

The survey provided some rather surprising results. Even best-in-class organizations assessed their road warriors to be only 77 percent as effective as their office-dwelling counterparts. From an academic perspective, that 77 percent is a C+. Is this the very best that vendors have to offer in terms of enterprise mobility? A very average C+?

Let's try to get a better sense of this grade. Enterprise mobility and the ability to leverage the technology enablers that make up the ecosystem (i.e., cellular networks, smartphones, data cards, hotspot services, etc.) are not the Holy Grail for enhancing the productivity of road warriors. Even best-in-class organizations recognize that the very notion of traveling heavily will have a negative impact on the productivity of their workforces.

Best-in-class organizations also recognize that no single device can serve all of a road warrior's needs. That said, they're providing their road warriors with the suite of tools and systems they need to minimize the inherent cost of travel and in fact are enabling them to leverage their downtime to be 35 percent more productive than all other organizations.

Maybe that 77 percent should be on a scale. Let's add 10 points and make it a B+, signaling that while certainly proving many intangible benefits, there remains room for improvement in the world of enterprise mobility and our ability to measure its impact on the bottom line.

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