Large Enterprise Forum
Empowering an era of intelligent communication
The use of workforce mobility and wireless communication
can help organisations move ahead in the new economy. by Kusum Makhija
User and Communications Research Group IDC India
Security has been touted as a key concern when it comes to
mobilising the enterprise. WLANs are already being deployed in many organisations,
some limited to parts of the network, others to the entire network. The proliferation
of Wi-Fi networks is increasing in many third world countries where organisations
have installed Wi-Fi equipment to have their employees connected.
However, enterprise mobility goes beyond Wi-Fi. It is estimated that 30-40
percent of corporate information like e-mail and databases are found in mobile
devices such as smart phones and not necessarily laptops. The mobile subscription
by business and corporate users across the region is growing. As with any new
technology or solution, it is important to match the users requirements
with the benefits and limitations of the solution.
Is Mobility Right?
IDC believes there are eight major areas to look into before deciding if mobility
is right for your organisation and how to best implement it to optimise returns.
The first one being infrastructure, that is to have a stock check on what or
who needs mobility and where.
The next one being quality management, which includes trials, documentation
of processes, reports on usage, to identify problems, benefits to measure against
expectations and goals for further improvements and modifications.
Business users expect immediate
contact with others when the need arises. Hence, the strong desire for
anytime, anywhere communication
This is followed by security. It is important to have multi-layered
security checks, especially in case of remote access and guest log-ins. The
organisation also needs to have adequate and well-measured standards for future
proofing and scalability. With various solutions available in the marketplace
today, it is important to know which standard works best for which application,
users, and locations.
Training is next on the IDC list. It is important to ensure adequate education
and awareness to manage expectations and prevent misuse or abuse of technology
at peoples disposal. Equally crucial are applications and support. Organisations
need to see how anytime, anywhere mobility can be properly executed.
There are a lot of multimode, multi-standards, multi-technologies riding on
client devices, applications, networks. It is therefore important to have a
sort of technology monitoring to be able to give a transparent handover to the
At the end of the day, it is important to appreciate the benefits but recognise
the risks. The corporate information residing on devices is at risk and
the employees must be educated about these risks. Security policies need to
be enforced. Companies need the ability to control information on handheld devices
remotely, including software, settings and other data. The limited use of handhelds
will not eliminate the risks, says Parijat Chakraborty, Sr. Manager, User
and Communications Research Group, IDC India.
There are many signs of increasing need and use of mobility in the workplace
in todays scenario. Notebooks for instance, are proliferating. According
to IDC, close to 60 percent of all PCs sold in 2009 will be laptops in Singapore.
In India, the share of laptops is expected to be around 10 percent. The use
of smart phones in Singapore will be almost double in the next 3-5 years. These
figures are based a survey done by Avaya in June this year.
From Avayas survey it came out that improving productivity via reducing
time tied to the desk is the most important business benefit of mobile communications
among Asian-based organisations, says Niru Mehta, Vice-chairman &
Managing Director, Avaya India. Satisfying customers was also cited as a very
important benefit for those in India, Malaysia, and Philippines.
Generally, business users expect immediate contact with others when the need
arises. Hence, the strong desire for anytime, anywhere communications.
A Business Meeting
The survey also showed that across the region, the largest number of respondents
cited that business meeting was the most important thing they have missed for
not being able to call or e-mail sometimes, followed by a customer query. In
addition, missing an important contract or new business was also cited by a
good proportion of the respondents.
So far, the most common applications being deployed over mobile infrastructure
is mobile e-mail. Mobile e-mail, therefore, no surprise has the highest penetration
among all applications.
IM, access to corporate directories and personal info management (contact info)
and wireless enterprise applications are the next two emerging applications
over the mobile infrastructure. Examples of these wireless enterprise applications
are mobile-CRM and mobile-ERP type applications.
The Next Wave
The next wave is expected to come from wireless vertical applications, especially
those for different verticals such as manufacturing, logistics, and financial.
This is touted as the next big thing in the enterprise applications space.
Traditionally, some of the industries are already deploying these applications
given the impracticality of wired infrastructure. However, the difference now
is the move towards standards-based technologies and solutions, says Parijat.
It is believed that while employees may find themselves increasingly mobile,
their employers may not feel totally comfortable with them working remotely
or telecommuting, especially beyond their travelling hours/days.
In the Avaya survey, 51 percent of the respondents across Asia Pacific
said that they would allow their employees to work remotely to improve productivity.
In India, it was 55 percent. The survey also asked if the companies trusted
their employees to telecommute. At least 70 percent said they did across the
region, explains James Haensley, CTO & Vice-president, Solutions,
However, between 45-53 percent of them were wary of providing technology to
allow telecommuting, because they fear loss of control. In India, 48 percent
of them said so. Some organisations and employees believe that telecommuting
can help to improve sense of work and life balance.
The best way to judge whether companies walk the talk,
is by the amount they have budgeted or plan to spend on mobile solutions
The best way to judge whether companies walk the talk, is
the amount they have budgeted or plan to spend on mobile solutions. In the IDC
Communications survey, it was found that most of them were willing to spend
up to US $10,000, each for Wi-Fi and Enterprise Mobility solutions, as a starting
point to trial usage in parts of their organisations
A Converged Network Is The Key
The key to meeting the needs of an increasingly mobile workforce is converged
networks. Many companies are deploying IP Tel/VoIP to take advantage of the
cost savings of IP.
Given the multiple features and applications used on such a platform,
it is therefore important to ensure that these same functionalities and resources
are made available to mobile workers, while they are on the road or telecommuting,
The tie-up between IP telephony and mobility therefore is essential as organisations
plan for the long haul to support their mobile workforce. It is important for
the CIO, to ensure that he or she takes into account the mobile needs of the
organisation as the company deploys an IP Telephony solution.