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How to best manage enterprise mobility

Aberdeen study identifies best practices for mobile projects

By , Network World
July 07, 2010 02:35 PM ET

Network World - Managing enterprise mobility means more than keeping track of who uses an iPhone and who uses a BlackBerry. For a group of companies, best practices are cutting costs, extending mobile access to data for more employees, and decreasing lost or stolen mobile devices.

That's a summary of results in a recent study of enterprise mobility management by Aberdeen Group, an IT consulting group. Last April, the company created an online survey, used by 210 enterprises, drawing on IT managers and directors and senior IT executives. A subset of the respondents was engaged in in-depth, follow-up interviews.

The companies were from a wide range of industry segments but the most respondents were from, in order, IT consulting, software, telecommunications services, financial services and government/public sector. Just over half were from the Western hemisphere, the rest from other regions. In size, about 25% of the companies were over $1 billion in annual revenues, about 40% classified as small businesses (less than $50 million, and the rest in the middle range).

The study was partly underwritten by three mobile software vendors, BoxTone, Good Technology, Integrated Mobile, and Zenprise. The underwriters and Aberdeen are making a free copy of the $399 report, "Enterprise Mobility Management: Optimizing the Full Mobile Lifecycle", available to Network World readers, through July 31. There is a short registration process, which asks for an e-mail address.

Aberdeen says it uses a complex methodology to judge enterprise behaviors in specific business processes. This creates a benchmark to measure and compare the performance of different companies. Based on those measures, Aberdeen places a company in one of three classes: best in class, the top 20% of companies whose practices are significantly better than the industry average; the next 50% fall into the industry average class; and the remaining 30% are laggards – companies with practices and performance that are well below the average.

The new study found that for the top 20%, the average annual total cost of ownership for mobile employees was $198, compared to $247 for the middle group, and $588 for the bottom group. A major reason for the difference is that best in class companies are taking various steps that drive down the cost of supporting mobile workers, even as they increase that population, says the study's author, Andrew Borg, senior research analyst with Aberdeen's Wireless & Mobility Practice.

For the best in class, 84% of employees had secure mobile access to data; but only 46% of employees in the average group, and just 33% for the laggard group. The best in class are increasing their rate of mobilizing employees (at 22%, which is about double compared to both other groups), and they're doing it cost-effectively, according to Aberdeen: for the best in class, the total annual mobility budget grew just 7% year to year; but the budget grew 8% for the average group, and 11% for the laggards.

The top group also reported a 7% year-to-year decrease in unrecovered lost or stolen mobile devices. For the average group, it was 2%, and the laggards reported no decrease (or increase).

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