New study from CDW, provider of technology solutions to businesses, government, education and healthcare, finds that small businesses get a “competitive lift” from employees’ use of smartphone devices and tablets in the workplace, or BYOD (Bring Your Own Device.)
In The Mobility Edge: CDW’s 2012 Small Business Mobility Report, 752 mobile device users and IT professionals were asked four questions:
- What they can do better now because of mobile devices?
- How mobile apps could help them do their jobs better?
- How mobility affects unique aspects of their business?
- What new challenges they face as they go mobile?
The report found that three-quarters of the mobile device users surveyed agreed that mobile device use is “critical” to their job. Meanwhile, 67 percent of users agreed that their company would “lose competitive ground” in today’s market without mobile devices.
However, almost all users – 94 percent – agree that their “use of mobile devices for works tasks has made them more efficient” and 85 percent of IT managers believe “mobile devices have made their company more efficient.”
Of the mobile devices used: 65 percent report using laptops for work, 81 percent report using smartphones and 25 percent report using tablets.
“CDW’s report says that small business users consider productivity and business apps on mobile devices to be game changers that make them more efficient and competitive,” said Jill Billhorn, vice president, CDW, in a statement.
Billhorn adds, “They want still more apps to help them manage unique aspects of their businesses, and the prospect is for dramatic growth in tablet use. That expanding demand, though, also means growing need for solutions to manage and secure mobile devices, as only a fifth of small business IT managers say their company has deployed or even plans to deploy such a solution.”
Further findings on the benefits of mobility include:
- 60 percent – Improved communication between field/office personnel
- 60 percent – Increased availability to customers
- 55 percent – Increased employee productivity
- 53 percent – Provided better customer service
- 45 percent – Increased collaboration between employees
- 35 percent – Improved work/life balance
- 34 percent – Streamlined business processes
While the report notes that small businesses see a huge upside to using mobile devices, they still struggle to manage and secure mobile devices in the workplace.
CDW says that “while few (51 percent) IT managers report using mobile device management (MDM) – those who do say it gives them a better grip on mobile devices and applications.” However, when IT managers were asked if they were familiar with MDM, 67 percent said “no.”
According to CDW, an effective MDM solution should offer: application management (deploy, update and wipe); policy (develop and control the operational aspects of the mobile network); inventory (licenses, version control, provision and support); and security management (enforce password settings, encryption and remote lock and wipe).
CDW surveyed small business mobile users and IT professionals across five industries – construction, food services, manufacturing, professional services and retail – in July, August and September of 2012.