Research Highlights Mobile Solutions Opportunity For Channel

New research conducted on behalf of BT reveals a growing corporate thirst for mobile devices as UK businesses strive to enable flexible working and increase staff productivity. However, despite increased demand, the study highlights a “laissez faire” approach to wireless use, as companies fail to provide employees with the right training and measurements to ensure that their business benefits from this investment.

More than half of all organisations surveyed already use at least four types of wireless device. Laptops (94%) and mobile phones (84%) are most popular, followed by PDAs (72%) and smartphones such as a BlackBerry (58%). Despite a high penetration rate, 78% of all the businesses questioned intend to invest further in wireless technologies to improve mobility, with laptop PCs (90%), mobile phones (78%), PDAs (60%) and smartphones (55%) the most likely items to be purchased over the next 12 months.

Mark Cornell, director of Partner Management at BT Business, said: “This research proves the wireless technology market is still immature but a huge growth opportunity. The results provide our partners and resellers with a critical insight into users’ attitudes towards wireless technology, flexible and mobile working and how this will affect future procurement plans. The benefits of flexible working are enormous, but only if the value of the tools are fully recognised. Armed with this knowledge, the channel can play a huge role in educating its customers as to the benefits of wireless technology and in turn shape both their ICT and wider business strategies.”

The research also showed that the adoption of wireless technology amongst small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) is similar to that of their corporate counterparts. More than half of small businesses use at least three wireless devices, just one type of device less than larger organisations. And of those businesses who participated in the survey, 71% of SMEs said they measured the return of investment of wireless devices in comparison with only 61% of larger businesses. This trend looks set to continue with three quarters of the small businesses surveyed confirming they intend to invest in wireless technology in the future.

Yet, whilst companies plan to invest heavily in the latest wireless technologies, the research highlighted a lack of insight into the value that these tools can deliver. The vast majority of corporations surveyed used wireless connectivity for e-mail, address book contacts and calendar (86%), followed by web access (67%). Yet only just over half (56%) are capitalising on remote access to the corporate network; an important step towards truly effective out of office working, and an area where resellers can add significant value.

The research found that senior management (85%) and technical staff (77%) are likely to use wireless devices at three in four organisations. Interestingly, just over half (54%) of field staff – those employees most likely to be out on the road – are provided with a means to keep in touch with the office.

Responsibility for purchasing wireless devices fell squarely to the IT and central procurement functions in 92% of organisations, with individual users having such responsibility at less than one in ten organisations. The life cycle for a range of technologies was also analysed by the survey, revealing that mobile phones are most likely to be replaced with the greatest frequency – once every 2.3 years. At the other end of the scale, wireless desktop PCs have a replacement cycle of more than 3 years