Wednesday, November 09, 2005

As mobile workforce grows, IT support could lag

Computerworld reports that according to IDC the "global mobile workforce is expected to grow by more than 20 percent in the next four years, with 878 million mobile workers toiling away on laptops, handhelds and cell phones by 2009." However IDC warns that as the numbers grow, IT might not be ready to support it.

Ken Dulaney at Gartner said, "Mobile management tools have made sense for IT to deploy for many, many years but only a small portion of companies are using them, because they don't want to spend the money." He noted tools to manage mobile devices remotely can cost up to $50 per user and said that while installing the tools can "keep things operational and avoid unexpected costs with a bug or something else companies just wait until a train wreck before using them."

IDC analyst Kevin Burden said, "IT managers are starting to realize that mobile [technology] support is different from supporting a laptop in an offic. IT departments have traditionally just wanted it to be easy and have been building mobile solutions piecemeal. Cost is the biggest barrier to providing mobile IT resources, since IT managers have demands coming from all over."

Burden added that "Staying connected on the road through e-mail and voice -- now, that's really easy. But if IT's talking about the process of taking data that runs inside the company and manipulating it and changing it from the road, that's not easy."

Burden pointed out expectations have changed as well with mobile access, anytime and anywhere. He said, "Now you can no longer use certain excuses. Lawyers have actually told me that they can no longer use the excuse, 'I was in court.' Those kinds of excuses don't fly anymore."