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Firms lust after mobile access

But spurn the advances of social computing

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Over the past few weeks, we’ve been looking at the various rationales as to why people might want to collaborate, or access applications, when they are mobile. But just how much of a concern is it to the corporation itself? According to a recent Reg reader poll, the answer is "quite a lot". Indeed, initiatives for mobile and remote access ranked third out of a total of 21 potential activities, with 60 per cent of respondents saying their organisations were planning to roll out such technologies within the next six months. Ranking above mobility were only infrastructure optimisation and custom app development.

It's fascinating stuff, particularly if we compare it to some of the other initiatives we suggested. Consider green computing for example, which ranked 19th with fewer than 20 per cent of respondents planning some kind of activity. Lower still were social computing and software as a service. If nothing else, this just goes to show that column inches should not be used as a guide for what's really going on at the front line – if I say any more on these subjects, I'll only be exacerbating this, so let's move on!

Notice that mobile access was ranked third overall, for all sizes of organisation, a position it maintained for mid-market companies. For the largest organisations, mobility was pushed into fourth position by governance, compliance and risk-related initiatives, that set of activities that bigger companies need to do, whether they want to or not. For smaller companies, it was the development of a web presence that pipped mobility to the third post.

What can we surmise from this? It's an interesting one, particularly as for many vertical sectors, mobility can't be linked directly to cost savings – perhaps the only place that this applies is in customer-oriented, "man with a van" scenarios such as logistics or maintenance servicing. Otherwise, and as we have seen elsewhere in our recent polls, mobile application use tends to be more "value-based" – that is, it has a direct cost and a less measurable, indirect set of benefits. Kitting out project managers with BlackBerries may not be making the company money, for example, but it is generally seen as beneficial.

Given that mobility is seen as this important by business, it begs the question: What exactly would organisations see as the ideal set of capabilities? Evidence from our most recent research suggests that the people with the best kit reap the most benefits, for example. So, should we be rolling out the costliest of gadgets to the majority of the workforce, and if so, what benefits might we achieve? We’ll be asking these questions in the next tranche of the research, but for now, we’d welcome any feedback you might have.®

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