Despite economic downturn, 54% of businesses plan to increase spending on wireless

As the U.S. and other parts of the world continue to wallow in challenging economic times, investment by businesses in mobility and the satisfaction of those mobile deployments continue to be quite high. In July 2009, IDC fielded and completed an enterprise mobility survey of 309 respondents (229 from the United States and 80 from the United Kingdom). Respondents were screened against two sets of criteria. First, they had to have some level of active involvement in the decision-making process for mobile enterprise application purchases. Second, they had to belong to an organization with at least 1,000 employees. The survey was reported at a 95 percent level of confidence.

While the mobile device wars often dominate the landscape of mobility, it is significant to realize that the deployment of mobile applications across an enterprise is a critical engine to the mobility growth--and it is alive and well. One of the more telling responses backing this up from our recent survey showed that mobility represents a substantial portion of overall IT budgets. Over 60 percent of respondents indicated mobility IT spend in the range of 10 percent to 40 percent of total IT spend. Considering the many other costs and priorities for large enterprises, this constitutes a significant portion. Additionally, the fact that even eight respondents (2.6 percent of respondents) are spending between 50 percent and 75 percent of their total IT budget on mobility indicates that some leading-edge companies have already begun to make a strategic investment in mobility.

For those organizations that have invested in mobile deployments, a large portion of them are satisfied with their company's rollout. The vast majority, roughly 83 percent, were satisfied, or very satisfied, with their mobile deployments. There was almost an even split between those that found the mobile deployments exceeded their expectations (15.3 percent) and those that found the mobile deployments overall had somewhat fallen short of expectations (14.4 percent). Only one respondent (0.7 percent) found that mobile deployments had totally failed to meet his/her organization's expectations, while 2 percent did not know. This bodes well for continued investment, wider rollouts, and upgrades in mobility solutions. Considering IDC's Mobile Worker Population Forecast, which projects over 1 billion mobile workers worldwide by 2011, tremendous greenfield opportunities exist for future deployments.

With well over three quarters of the respondents satisfied with their mobile deployments, the industry begins to reap the rewards of much improved mobile technology within the marketplace. The ability for organizations to leverage Web 2.0 tools that enable robust platform environments and rapid application development provides a much faster and easier rollout of mobile applications. A deployment that is also set up for scale (even though organizations may start with a single application across a single business unit), where a solution that can reach multiple users across multiple applications throughout the organization, is a common occurrence. In years past, six months were often required to build applications that were typically proprietary in nature and built in a silo. Today, much of the key enterprise tools organizations have used to build their core applications have been extended out to mobile development environments, creating improved deployments that integrate and interoperate with existing corporate systems.

Lastly, organizations expect to continue to invest in mobile applications and other key technologies over the next 12-18 months. More than half of enterprises surveyed (54.1 percent) plan to invest more in mobile technologies in the next 12-18 months, with another 26.2 percent that plan to invest the same, for a combined 80.3 percent of organizations that plan to spend the same or more on mobility in the next 12-18 months. This indicates that many of the organizations believe that the economic downturn has reached bottom and that mobility is a strategic investment for them going forward. Only 15.5 percent plan to invest less.

Organizations continue to see mobility as a strategic investment, but in these challenging economic times, they also recognize that the deployment of a mobile solution offers key cost reduction benefits, sales increases and tremendous productivity and efficiency enhancements.

For more information on this study please see The State of Mobile Enterprise Software in 2009: An IDC Survey of Applications and Platforms - Decisions and Deployments (IDC # 219600, Aug 2009) Stephen Drake is the program vice president for Mobility & Telecom research at IDC. In this position, he has responsibility for the Mobile Enterprise, Mobile SMB, Mobile Device coverage, IP Communication Services and also contributes to IDC's Unified Communication research. Visit IDC.com.

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