Forrester Research Analyst on Global Trends in Enterprise Mobility

Published on: August 13, 2012

Jeffrey Hammond, principal analyst of Forrester Research and Christopher Willis, chief marketing officer for Verivo Software discuss enterprise mobility and the rapidly-changing global market.

Willis: Why don’t you tell me a little bit about the landscape of enterprise mobility and the challenges that companies are facing today?

Hammond: I think the biggest challenge that folks face is the rate of change—it really is stripping an awful lot of gears. Just to put it in context; if you think about laptops and the operating systems that we have on our laptops, I still run into lots of clients that are running Windows XP. It’s a 10-year old operating system. Yes, it’s on Service Pack 3, but they are just now starting to roll out Windows 7 which is six years old. Now think about how that meets the mobility market where you major operating system upgrades every eight months to 12 months, and the minute that one of those upgrades comes out, all the users go out and start to download it.

IT shops have no control over the operating system anymore. And they are essentially having to give up things at the hardware level, they are having to give up control at the operating system level, and they are having to fall back to the application level. And, security groups, the infrastructure and operations groups, and then lastly, the application development groups, all sit there and say, ‘how are we going to get faster, how are we going to retain some semblance of control, when essentially the rug has been pulled out from under our feet?

Willis: So what are some key trends in the global market?

Hammond: Well OK, let’s take it at a couple of different levels. First of all; from the hardware level. Typically we look at three different classes of devices. You look at feature phones—12 key phones, you look at smartphones, the iPhone and the Android devices. And then, the devices in between—quick messaging devices—devices that have the quick text QWERTY keyboards.

What we are seeing is the beginning of major conversion from feature phones to smartphones. Here in theU.S., depending on whose stats you look at, we are at over 50 percent of adults that now have smartphone class devices. Things are little bit slower in some of the other geos, but that conversion to smartphones is the big one. The second thing is a quick messaging device category in the middle. We are starting to see that commoditize out. The biggest reason is because of Android as an open source operating system. You see lots of Chinese manufacturers putting Android on these quick messaging devices and essentially turning them into smartphones even as smartphones become super phones. So from a technology perspective, from an apps perspective, that essentially is taking is from [three] technology class devices down to two, and it’s making those two the majority devices in market and giving app developers an awful lot of opportunities. So even from an enterprise perspective, whether you are reaching out to consumers, and you are looking at those devices, or to employees, it’s actually simplifying the mobile architecture – which is one of the reasons that we see so many people who are interested in building apps that were never interested in building apps two or three years ago.

Willis: Right, how does that differ from the U.S. over to Europe and beyond?

Hammond: I think the differences are more statements of points in time than they are really user behavior, at least when it comes to the U.S. and Europe. So, in Europe, we do see a lag in smartphone adoption. And actually, there is quite a bit of variance from North to South. If you look at the U.K. and the Nordics, you see smartphone adoption rates which are pretty close to parity with the U.S., but as you get into Southern Europe—Italy, Greece, Spain—you see those smartphone rates start to drop. But if you look at the data from a historical perspective, those rates and the growth look very similar to what we were seeing in U.S. maybe 18 months ago. So I think if you project out maybe 18 months to two years, you’ll see many of the European countries going over 50 percent in terms of smartphone adoption as well. In Asia, we see a real difference between metropolitan and non metropolitan areas. So if you look for example at metropolitan China, metropolitan India, the smartphone adoption rates are very high. They look very much like the U.S.—sometimes as much as 50 percent or more. Once you get outside the cities, usage drops off dramatically. And there we don’t see as much conversion to the higher classes of hardware, or to application-capable, full Web browser-capable devices. Africa; still dominated largely by feature phones.