A not exactly surprising, yet potentially challenging, trend
emerged from recent respondents to VDC's comprehensive 2009 Enterprise Mobility
End User survey: Less is more.
Or, put differently, do more with less.
When asked which mobile platforms were currently being used
or evaluated for enterprise mobility applications, respondents exhibited a
clear shift away from traditional "large" mobile form factors such as
notebooks and towards small, portable and cost-effective solutions such as
smartphones and netbooks. This research was conducted by VDC in May and June
2009 and includes responses from 657 individuals responsible for purchasing,
specifying or supporting enterprise mobility solutions.
The responses point, in part, to the growing influence that
consumer devices are having on enterprise mobility applications. Clearly these
devices are becoming increasingly powerful. However, at what point are we
sacrificing too much in terms of performance and functionality to be able to
support true enterprise mobility applications?
Enterprises are keen on leveraging these platforms beyond
horizontal messaging and communications to support a wide range of solutions,
including specialized line-of-business applications. According to VDC's end
user survey, just over 45% of respondents are using smartphones for enterprise
mobility applications. In addition, almost 60% of respondents agree that
smartphones are the target platform for enterprise mobility applications under
Beyond the continued smartphone momentum, perhaps the most
surprising finding is the rapid ascension of the netbook. More than a third of
respondents (36%) are evaluating these low-end devices, while 16% are already
using them for enterprise mobility applications.
While it is easy to write off netbooks based on their
performance limitations in comparison to notebooks -- and clearly they are not
capable of supporting a multitude of enterprise applications -- it is
impossible to ignore them. This is especially the case for highly mobile
workers or as a secondary/ companion device.
Nevertheless, much more needs to done to support the
increasingly stringent security and manageability requirements that enterprises
have for their mobile clients.
Faced with increasing budget pressures, enterprises today
are perhaps more receptive to leveraging these devices to support a greater
variety of enterprise applications. This, in turn, is driving opportunity for
services that support device and security management on this emerging class of
While these devices are here to stay, it is important to
view them for what they are ... and what they are not. Put another way,
adopting a smartphone or a netbook for their low upfront cost may end up
costing organizations more in the long term.
David Krebs is Research Director for the Mobile &
Wireless Practice at VDC Research. Email him at email@example.com