3G cellular used by nearly half of enterprises, survey says

Productivity, employee availability popular reasons

A survey released by market research firm Chadwick Martin Bailey reports that nearly half of all enterprises currently use cellular services, and that more than one-third plan on using WiMAX technology within the next year.

The survey, which was conducted among 114 IT decision makers working for companies with at least 1000 employees, finds that just over 48% of enterprises already use 3G cellular services, and that roughly 22% plan on using them within the next 12 months. Additionally, the survey finds that while less than 10% of enterprises currently use WiMAX services, nearly 37% plan on using it within the next 12 months.

The survey data provides concrete evidence that business users are willing to invest capital in deploying mobile data equipment and services. For instance, a strong majority (69.3%) of enterprise decision makers surveyed say they are already providing their employees with Wi-Fi for data access; in contrast, less than 10% say that they have no plans to deploy Wi-Fi for data access. And even though WiMAX services aren't expected to be available on a widespread basis until later this year, more than 46% of decision makers polled say they already use or plan to use the technology within the next year.

The major reasons for deploying mobile enterprise applications, the survey finds, include increased employee productivity and increased employee availability, as more than 80% of enterprise users list both of them as key reasons for using more mobile technologies. Only 36% of decision makers polled say that cost savings are a factor in their decision to use enterprise mobile applications.

Additionally, more than half of enterprise decision makers polled list data security as their most pressing concern for wireless data technology, and more than two-thirds report that deploying Wi-Fi broadly within their organisation makes them more vulnerable to security breaches.

Wireless security has increasingly become a bigger priority for enterprises as more employees are working from home and connecting to corporate data via corporate VPNs, thus giving companies less and less control over where their employees can gain access to sensitive information. As Perri Nejib, CTO for Lockheed Martin Information Systems, told Network World recently, a corporate IT network now "moves with the individual to their living room, hotel room, car and coffee shop."

Other survey findings include:

• RIM's BlackBerry operating system gets the highest marks from enterprise users for its security features, as 41.2% of users surveyed say they most closely associate it with having strong security. Similarly, more users associate the BlackBerry with having the best ease of use (38.6%) and the lowest IT help desk support (36.8%) than any other platforms. Microsoft's Windows Mobile platform, meanwhile, gets the highest markets for having the best application compatibility (58.8%) and for having the largest available device selection (48.2%).

• Nearly half (45.6%) of all IT decision makers surveyed think that Verizon Wireless offers the best mobile enterprise data plans, followed by AT&T Wireless (32.5%) and Sprint Nextel (14%).

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