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Convenience, Not Necessity, Seems to Drive Enterprise Smartphone Use
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January 25, 2010

Convenience, Not Necessity, Seems to Drive Enterprise Smartphone Use

By Gary Kim, Contributing Editor

Enterprise information workers in North America and the United Kingdom do not seem to use their mobiles for retrieving or sending email quite as much as one might think, and use of smartphones to run applications may be more of a convenience than a necessity, a new survey from Forrester (News - Alert) Research suggests.

The survey suggests, as you might suspect, that mobile e-mail activities are primarily conducted when workers are out of the office. About 75 percent of Nokia users say they use their mobiles to get or send email when out of the office. About 43 percent of Palm users and 50 percent of Samsung (News - Alert) users say they use mobile email when out of the office.
Some 53 percent of Apple (News - Alert) users say they need mobile email when they are out of the office.
But respondents also seem to suggest that “access” to email and other applications from anywhere, not specifically “out of office” work requirements, tend to drive desire for mobile applications available on a smartphone. Convenience, rather than necessity, seems to be the key value.
Generally speaking, more respondents report that they simply prefer the ability to interact with email from any location, compared to the number who actually say they must run applications at a customer location or out of the office.
Mobile email appears to represent 21 percent to 25 percent of email delivery for North American or United Kingdom information workers who use a smartphone at least once a week for work purposes, Forrester Research says.
The most-active users are those with Apple iPhones. Respondents using iPhones say they get or send about a quarter of their email from their mobile, and 75 percent from their PCs. Uses of Palm devices say they send or receive about 24 percent from their mobile devices.
Research in Motion (News - Alert) users say their BlackBerries are used to send or receive about 23 percent of their total email, while Nokia users say they send or receive about 21 percent of their email using their mobiles. Samsung users send and receive just 11 percent of their email using a mobile device.
Despite the popular notion that the RIM BlackBerry (News - Alert) is “the” enterprise device, the Forrester Research survey suggests there is a high degree of variability in enterprise mobility device patterns. It has not proven to be as difficult as many predicted for Apple to find its way into widespread enterprise use, for example.
And part of the reason may be that much “enterprise” mobile application consumption is for relatively casual travel such as commuting to and from work and working away from the desk, not “at the customer site” settings where a PC might not be available.
So far, smartphones are supplementing, not displacing, PC use in the enterprise. But that might not be the most important development. Smartphones are supplementing PCs for “staying in touch” when away from their desks. Mobile application access is beginning to replicate the mobile voice experience: usage away from a fixed location for convenience more than necessity.
Convenience, not actual necessity, seems to drive as much end user behavior in the enterprise space as the consumer space.

Gary Kim is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Gary’s articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Erin Harrison

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