Organizations that grant employees mobile connectivity solely through access to corporate e-mail and the Web are misleading themselves into thinking they actually have a mobile strategy, according to a recent study by IDC Canada Ltd.
The reality is, those organizations are only just starting to move beyond basic wireless enablement. True mobility is about leveraging business applications ranging from support and sales to finance and supply chain, said Sebastien Ruest, vice-president of infrastructure, software and services research with the Toronto-based research firm.
The disconnect, said Ruest, is likely due to an absence of a formalized mobilization roadmap. Their approach is mostly to say, “Hey, everyone is on e-mail, we’re going to be on e-mail … but there is no real valuation done to determine the benefits,” he said.
Culture and attitude are other roadblocks hindering Canadian organizations that tend to get a little hesitant when it comes to activities that “could really be true differentiators from a mobility perspective,” said Ruest.
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The findings in the study, entitled Mobilizing Canada: Moving Beyond Wireless Enablement
, are based on a survey of 255 senior IT and business decision-makers across organizations with at least $50 million in revenue. The study was sponsored by SAP Canada Inc.
The findings also revealed a misalignment between the expectations and actual benefits of mobility. While organizations initially like the idea of mobility as a means to improving worker productivity and responsiveness to customers, they later realize the benefits also include the ability to make faster business decisions with real-time connectivity, said Ruest.
On the topic of the most commonly mobilized business applications, respondents indicated service and support at 38 per cent, and sales and customer relationship management at 37 per cent. Ruest thinks help desk support is just the sort of business application that could really take advantage of mobility by getting rid of physical facilities and employing a system that allows employees to work from home.
Other business applications well-suited to mobility, yet not really applied, said Ruest, include consumer retail purchases and marketing, as well as real-time inventory and supply management using RFID.
But there are obstacles to adoption of a mobile strategy, the study found, with security concerns regarding remote data access, and whether legacy applications might be too outmoded to support a move towards mobility.
Oakville, Ont.-based Securit, a provider of records management and document destruction services, plans to launch a pilot for an SAP CRM mobile application on Research In Motion Ltd.’s BlackBerry this June in its U.K. location before expanding that mobility globally. Dan Snider, Securit’s vice-president for business systems, acknowledged that security can be a concern for organizations looking to go mobile. “Obviously if someone drops that device or loses that device and it’s not secured properly in terms of security protocols in the background, that device can be accessible by anybody,” said Snider.