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CES Feature Articles

January 13, 2010

Business User Demand for Mobile Smartphones Will Also Drive UC


With all the announcements about mobile smartphones at last week’s 2010 Consumer Electronics Show, I was glad to see the recent smartphone survey by Forrester Research aimed at mobile business end users “information workers” or “iWorkers”, who are also “consumers.”

 
They will be the key users of converged UC applications because of the interface flexibility demands of mobile users. The survey results confirm our view that not only must enterprise UC support these popular mobile devices, but those mobile devices will be chosen by and paid for, if necessary, by the individual end users.

It also means that a single, multimodal smartphone device will have to support “dual persona” usage, i.e., treating the same individual differently as a consumer than as a business user or enterprise employee. The former enables personal contacts and services including entertainment, while the latter will apply appropriate priorities for business contacts and applications still controllable by the enterprise.

With business applications and information access moving into Internet “cloud” servers, mobile endpoint devices can exploit browsers that can handle on-line applications regardless of differences in smartphone form factors. This will make it practical to use a single, multimodal mobile device for multiple contexts and application interfaces supported by UC.

Highlights of Forrester End User Survey on Business User Mobility

The Forrester (News - Alert) survey covered responses from 2001 information workers who worked in an organization with 100 or more employees. 
  • 11 percent of U.S. workers currently use a “smartphone” at work
  • 14 percent of iWorkers in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K.
  • 64 percent would like to use smartphones for work
  • 33 percent of respondents use their own mobile phones for work
  • For comparison, 33 percent of U.S. workers have a laptop
  • Teleworkers, on average work two hours more per week than office workers
  • 81 percent of iWorkers use smartphones from home
  • 62 percent while traveling
  • 64 percent at their office desks
  • 29 percent spend more than 3 hours a day on their mobile device
 
The increasing demand for smartphone usage for both personal consumer usage, as well as business needs is leading enterprise organizations to move away from “corporate-liable” cost responsibility for all mobile usage to a “shared user-liable” approach to costs which allows individual users to choose their own smartphones and services.

The “Fly in the Smartphone Ointment”

While the practical demand for increased device-independent mobility for business applications is rapidly increasing, there are, unfortunately, still software standardization barriers for smartphones. These will interfere with realizing the objective of “universal” mobile accessibility to both people contacts and mobile business apps through smartphones. These problems are highlighted in an article reporting from the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Ls Vegas, where new smartphones were one of the big highlights of the show.

With all the new smartphones being announced, the problem for universal interoperability of mobile applications apparently is the fact that they use different mobile operating systems that are incompatible. Even mobile OS software from the same developer comes in a variety of versions. This has caused mobile application developers to create different versions of their applications – a very expensive and restrictive way to productize software.

A potential solution to the problem is expected from a new, hardware-independent, software-based platform standard called HTML5, which is expected to start putting in an appearance this year. This is expected to support graphical applications through smartphone Web browsers.  

Consumer use of Smartphones will prove a boon to customer interactions with enterprise organizations and services, because they will enable personalized, timely, proactive customer service notifications by automated business process applications. This will be particularly useful in healthcare, where contact timeliness can be critical, along with easy access to live assistance or “click-to-call” when necessary.

What Do You Think?
You can contact me at: artr@ix.netcom.com or (310) 395-2360.
 

Art Rosenberg, a veteran of the computer and communications industry, contributes his column, The Unified-View to TMCnet. To read more of Art’s articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi





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