The gaping hole in Canada’s transition to enterprise mobility

IDC Canada’s latest research shows a surprising level of buy-in from senior management on apps and networks that allow employees to work anywhere, any time. But one key segment may be missing out on the opportunity

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What sets mobility apart from other IT initiatives is that most business leaders recognize its importance — IT doesn’t have to try to convince anyone of its value. Everyone gets it.

Indeed, not only are business leaders placing a value on mobility, they’re placing a higher value on it than most other IT priorities including cloud and business intelligence, according to a recent survey from IDC Canada.

The survey, Mobile Apps in the Canadian Enterprise, found that 62 per cent of respondents ranked the business value of mobile technology as “high” or “very high.”

Related: Canada’s mobile productivity boost, quantified

“Bosses are buying into this,” says Nigel Wallis, research director of enterprise software and application solutions with IDC Canada. “The big change here, like big data and cloud, is mobile has the possibility of [business] transformation.”

Another big change? IDC found that business leaders are actually willing to spend money on mobility.

But it also requires network improvements as well as application consolidation and modernization — because all the mobile devices in the world won’t make any difference to productivity unless content is also mobilized.

Forty-one per cent of respondents said they’ve mobilized at least one app. And 30 per cent intend to mobilize new apps over the coming year: The top five apps they’re investing in (beyond email and calendar) are unified communications, workflow/approvals, sales force automation, office apps and business intelligence.

Despite these encouraging numbers, Canada is starting to lag behind in the adoption of multiple mobile enterprise apps compared to our U.S. and UK counterparts. “It’s a real threat to Canadian productivity,” says Wallis.

Large companies with multiple sites are investing in enterprise app mobilization, as are smaller, more nimble companies. The issue is with the mid-market — companies with 100 to 1,000 employees (which makes up a big chunk of the Canadian landscape).

They’re big enough to have a lot of IT complexity, but don’t necessarily have the capacity to mobilize their enterprise apps, whether it’s a matter of money or internal resources.

Some vertical markets have made bigger strides than others, such as retail and government. “Verticals are starting to see real change and if they haven’t invested they need to catch up,” says Wallis.

Another issue is delivering those apps to employees. More than 130 billion apps have been downloaded from app stores in the past five years (2.3 billion of those have been downloaded in Canada alone). App stores have revolutionized how consumers think about gaining access to apps, says Wallis, but line-of-business managers haven’t caught up with this way of thinking yet.

When it comes to a mobilization strategy, many businesses will require the expertise of a third-party provider if they don’t have it in-house. And many will need to upgrade their network infrastructure.

But, considering that IDC expects tablets to outnumber desktops in Canada by the end of 2016, enterprise app mobilization is not a nice-to-have, but a necessity to staying competitive and, ultimately, boosting productivity.

Find out why unified communications is a natural candidate for mobility by downloading ‘The Enterpise Collaboration eBook,” from Allstream.

Image courtesy of twobee at

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