Many businesses have not tapped the full potential of a growing number of mobile business applications rapidly becoming available. According to Enterprise Mobility, a study conducted by the Canadian Financial Research Foundation (CFERF) and sponsored by SAP, many workers continue to mainly use their mobile devices for email and web browsing. Why? Concerns about risk management, data security, cost, logistics and technology limitation are stalling the adoption by businesses of a wide range of applications which can greatly enhance productivity, improve responsiveness to customers and reduce employee downtime.
The study shows that a lack of knowledge and awareness of the potential benefits of mobile business apps have hindered the development and use of customized applications. Some companies prefer to use cloud computing and/or web-based interfaces for employees instead, believing that this offers increased security and the flexibility to be compatible with any mobile device and across platforms.
“More and more, companies are allowing employees to access company data through mobile business applications housed on smartphones and tablets. While this brings benefits such as improvements in productivity and flexibility, these advances are accompanied by security risks that executives should be aware of,” said Michael Conway, Chief Executive and National President, FEI Canada.
CFERF, the research arm of FEI Canada, conducted the survey of financial executives across Canada and gathered insights from executive research forums held in both Toronto and Calgary. Mobile devices in the study referred to smartphones, such as the Blackberry and iPhone, and tablet devices. Laptop computers and net books were not included.
According to about 70% of respondents, there were the top three obstacles to the adoption of mobile business applications:
- Existing enterprise applications cannot be mobilized;
- There is lack of integration with existing systems;
- There are security concerns.
Other concerns include the skill level of an in-house IT or telecom staff; a range of hardware, infrastructure and technology issues; a lack of money and a lack of awareness of the benefits of mobile business applications.
“It is clear that companies want to free their employees from desktops and embrace mobile solutions, and that Canadian businesses are equating increased productivity with increased mobility. What is also clear is that Canadian businesses are concerned about their ability to secure these devices, integrate them within existing systems and ensure the greatest return possible on their investment,” says Mark Aboud, Managing Director SAP Canada. “For Canada to remain productive, we are going to have to embrace the idea of enterprise mobility more quickly than we have been so far.” More than half of the financial executives in the study stated that their organization was prepared for the implication of a mobile workforce. One third said that their companies were not while the remainder (11%) did not know.
Finally, respondents had mixed viewpoints concerning the potential impact of handheld devices on work-life balance. Some saw the use of mobile business apps as a way to balance the demands of work with personal responsibilities while others saw it as an unwelcome intruder into their private life.