The transition of mobile data into mainstream IT
Mobile or remote working is not new, nor specific to the use of mobile technology, but the increasing dependence on instant access to IT has led to an increasing demand for mobile data services. Operators recognising the long term decline of voice revenues are keen to offer potentially lucrative mobile data services, but will mobile data rapidly follow the path of voice services to become a cost conscious commodity, or are there additional services mobile operators can offer to add value and build loyalty? Certainly mobile data services can be complex, and in a rapidly maturing technology sector, it is valuable to be insulated from the effects of rapid change and unnecessary complexity. But ultimately mobile or remote access should be regarded as just one aspect of IT usage within a regular business environment, and not a separate entity in its own right.
• after a lacklustre start, smartphone adoption surges forward
Laptops are still the primary device for mobile applications, even those where a smaller device might suffice, like email. Adding a 3G or GPRS data card to an existing laptop gives more flexibility at a lower management cost as they are a well understood and familiar platform. However networked PDAs, in particular the BlackBerry, have become almost as widely deployed for mobile email, and are now joined by a rapid surge of email usage on an even smaller form factor device – the smartphone, across all smartphone operating platforms.
Blanket coverage of prime business locations – airport lounges, railway stations, hotels and city centre coffee shops, business clubs – combined with consolidation and account roaming among providers has made Wi-Fi services more palatable for enterprise use. The increased shift towards Wi-Fi predicted a year ago seems to have taken place, but there is no apparent appetite to go further.
Mobile telecommunications is still seen as expensive, partly because billing by the minute or the megabyte is difficult to quantify in business terms. Flat rate pricing is part of the appeal of Wi-Fi, although adding yet another billing account is a drawback. Predictable cost is also a major part of the appeal for taking voice traffic over an IP network, and hence VoIP adoption is gaining ground.
Deployments are moving beyond the ad hoc pet projects of the IT department to be officially sanctioned pilots and full scale deployments. Mobile applications are becoming a normal part of the overall business strategy and part of the overall IT spend. This will lead to wider competition for available budget, increasing pressure on costs, and an increasing need to demonstrate value.
•Businesses are looking for value added services
Despite the focus on cost, there are services that are seen as valuable. The convergence of fixed and mobile voice calls and interest in VoIP requires a renewed look at PBX integration and the growth in the deployment of mobile email from a select few to a mainstream employee application increases the appeal purchasing these applications as hosted services. Security is also a major concern, and this opens up the opportunity for a variety of security services but it also hinders the adoption of hosted services.
• Simplifying the mobile service offering is becoming more important
The breadth of potential services, devices and connectivity options increases the overall complexity of current offerings. Companies are looking to reduce complexity and their number of suppliers, making multiple service offerings in a single coherent package more attractive. This makes it even more important for businesses to build long term partnerships with mobile operators and other service providers. Although choice will still be important, in the long term the same drive to reduce complexity will favour companies that can offer both fixed and mobile solutions.
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The primary research data upon which this report is based is derived from an independent study conducted by Quocirca and sponsored by O2. This involved 520 interviews of those with responsibility for or active involvement in managing their organisation’s relationship with mobile operators from a broad cross section of industries in the Germany France, the