Businesses see big benefits to getting more mobile

A host of factors, particularly intense competition, is pushing businesses to move toward greater mobility and adopt mobile applications for their core business activities.

This was revealed in a recent global survey, conducted in the first quarter of 2007, on business mobility undertaken by Nokia and the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and in cooperation with the CIO Forum.

As business mobility continues making headway into organizations and more advanced applications and processes are mobilized, the reasons behind companies' mobility adoption can vary from hardcore ROI benefits to softer values such as employee retention, the report indicated. 

'Companies are increasingly implementing mobility to offer greater collaboration, responsiveness to customers, and better work-life balance to staff, fundamentally changing the ways people are working," the report said.

Nokia and EIU polled more than 500 global executives across a range of industries to find out how their organizations were using business mobility. In the survey, three quarters of the respondents pointed to human factors such as attracting the best talent -- including new entrants to the workforce -- improving customer support, and building brand reputations as reasons for deploying business mobility. 

The survey showed that business mobility has gone mainstream. Over one-third of executives reported that at least 20% of their employees can be considered "mobile workers", defined as those who spend at least one day a week away from the office.

Far from being a requirement for just a few specialized technology firms, business mobility is now seen as broadly applicable to companies in many industrial sectors, the report noted. 

The survey also showed that activities occurring in the field are increasingly core to the success of a business and companies can no longer rely on information merely being captured in the field. 

"This research clearly demonstrates that business mobility has arrived, and is viewed as a fundamental part of being competitive regardless of the industry," said Olivier Cognet, VP for strategy and business development at Nokia.

"We have resolved a great deal of earlier mobility industry "˜teething problems' related to infrastructure, and the need for business-optimized devices and complete solutions. Now is the time to fully reap the far-reaching benefits that business mobility has to offer."

Along with advantages, respondents also said business mobility brings challenges such as managing a mobile workforce (19%) and maintaining a cohesive culture across a dispersed workforce (18%). The ability to measure the impact of business mobility on a company's competitiveness was also cited (12%). 

"By enabling decision-making "˜on-the-move', business mobility solutions let organizations respond more quickly to customer needs, develop ideas for innovative products and services, and attract new talent," said Nigel Holloway, EIU's research director in the Americas. "Although it presents new managerial challenges, the long term trend toward greater business mobility is clear."