Big-Picture Perspective

— August 01, 2006

Differences in culture on both sides of the Atlantic are sometimes dramatically evident. Take, for example, the fervor over which the recent World Cup was received by Europeans, versus the moderate interest that the greatest event in soccer (or football) generated in the United States.

The business world is a different environment altogether, however, as the forces of globalization continue to exert similar competitive pressures on companies regardless of geography. But what about issues around enterprise mobility? Are U.S. and European businesses taking the same approach to mobility or feeling the same pain points? Yankee Group's recent Transatlantic Wireless Business survey of 450 large businesses in the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany provides some insights into the approaches being taken on both sides of the pond--and perhaps present an opportunity for U.S. and European businesses to keep an eye on their counterparts for lessons learned.

Fixed-mobile convergence (FMC) is a buzz word permeating the industry and promising great advances in productivity and collaboration while helping enterprises manage and control the rising costs of mobility. And controlling mobile telephony costs is a priority on both sides of the Atlantic. In Europe, FMC solution providers are positioning cellular-PBX FMC solutions to European enterprises, which leverage mobile substitution to offload high-tariff voice traffic and in some cases provide flat-rate subscription fees for corporations. Alternatively, U.S. companies seem to indicate greater interest in dual-mode cellular/Wi-Fi FMC solutions. Among U.S. respondents, 44 percent indicated that they were "very interested" in a solution that provided the ability to seamlessly roam on a voice call from corporate WLAN to cellular, compared to only 25 percent of the European respondents. Given the slow evolution of dual-mode solutions in the marketplace and the inherent challenges in constructing voice-ready WLANs, the European approach may yield more direct cost savings and functionality in the near term.

Roughly 50 percent of companies surveyed on both sides of the Atlantic are piloting or deploying wireless wide-area data initiatives. European enterprises tend to be heavy messaging users--both mobile email and SMS. Of European large businesses that have deployed or tested a mobile data solution, over 79 percent have rolled out mobile email and almost 40 percent consider mobile email the most important mobile application. This trend is not drastically different in the United States, where 66 percent have deployed mobile email and 35 percent consider it the key application.

For most enterprises, however, the mobile data landscape will move quickly beyond email and PIM. Mobile access to legacy corporate databases is the second leading driver of mobile data solutions in Europe and the United States. With the exception of remote systems administration applications, the United States leads its European brethren in non-messaging and non-Web-browsing mobile applications. While productivity benefits can be extracted from mobile email and PIM, greater ROI and competitive advantage can be driven from mobilizing functionality from core business applications such as CRM, ERP and legacy systems.

The increasing similarities of key business issues--the need to reduce costs, drive revenues and improve service--among large enterprises globally imply that similar mobility solutions that address these issues will be relevant to companies regardless of where they reside in the world. //

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