FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Friday, September 09, 2005

The (Disconnected) State of the Mobile Worker

A recent white paper from Nokia, "The State of Workforce Mobility" (PDF), contains some surprising and important observations about how mobile devices are deployed and used in the workplace:

  • Although more businesses are deploying mobile technology, less than a quarter of workers use cell phones for business purposes, and only 10% use laptops for work.

  • Business users do not replace their cell phones as frequently as one might think. Mobile phones are in operation an average of two years... longer than the consumer average of 18 months.

  • Size doesn't matter. Large companies are no more or less willing to provide mobile technology to their employees than small ones.

  • Chinese businesses are leading the pace in mobile phone adoption, with 68% of Chinese decision makers saying they would consider replacing land lines with mobile phones (as opposed to 22% of American decision makers).

  • Nearly 60% of business decision makers say they do not plan to purchase additional mobile devices within the next 12-24 months, even though demand is high. Concerns about cost and difficulty of deployment are cited as the most common reasons discouraging further deployment.

  • Top executives are the employees most likely to be using mobile technology... suggesting a technology gap between "haves" and "have-nots" in many organizations.

  • Security is the top criterion for selecting e-mail or IM solutions (no surprise there, really).

In short, businesses may be missing the boat when it comes to deploying mobile technology in the workforce. "Regardless of geography, company size, or whether companies are compensating employees for mobile devices and related services," the report concludes, "the workforce is increasingly reaping the benefits of mobile technologies, so much so that an interesting disconnect between decision makers and employees has evolved." Perhaps further studies linking mobile technologies to increased productivity will convince these decision makers that the mobile workplace is a worthwhile investment.