'Prosumers' warm up to being mobile

'Prosumers' warm up to being mobile

Summary: New IDC study indicates that professional consumers are buying into the idea of enterprise mobility, with 47.5 percent of respondents keen on e-mail access via their mobile devices.

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Prosumers in the Asia-Pacific region are tapping on enterprise mobility applications--albeit in a rudimentary manner--to carry out business activities, a new study by IDC finds.

However, the use of enterprise mobility tools is largely restricted to voice and SMS (short message service) applications, as well as call forwarding and conferencing, according to the IDC Asia-Pacific Joint Mobility Survey 2006. The survey was conducted to gauge prosumers' usage trends related to mobile devices, applications and services in Australia, Hong Kong, India, Korea, China and Thailand, and drew 195 prosumer respondents from small and large companies across 16 industry sectors.

"The increasing number of prosumers has thrown up opportunities as well as challenges for enterprises," Shalini Verma, IDC's Asia-Pacific senior market analyst for enterprise mobility research, said in a statement Tuesday.

"Organizations planning to deploy enterprise mobility need to consider the usage preferences of prosumers within the companies, in order to ensure greater end-user adoption of enterprise mobility applications," she said.

Prosumers, or professional consumers, typically use mobile devices to fulfill their personal and business requirements. IDC noted that this group of users has a direct relationship with mobile service providers, with their companies paying for the mobile service charges.

Survey respondents also indicated a preference to use applications that have a more direct impact on their workflow productivity. These tools include mobile e-mail, mobile enterprise applications, file and data synchronization, and access to corporate intranets.

Mobile e-mail was most popular tool among prosumers, with 47.5 percent of respondents wanting to use mobile e-mail in the future.

Those surveyed cited the lack of high data speeds as a key inhibitor for adopting enterprise mobility applications, IDC said, noting that mobile operators and enterprise mobility players will need to find more efficient ways to handle data on a 2.5G network, which is predominantly used by prosumers.

But that could change as more countries in the region begin to roll out their 3G networks.

Andrew Namboka, chief technologist of enterprise solutions at Nokia Asia-Pacific, told ZDNet Asia in April this year, that while developed IT markets including Singapore, Australia and Japan are leading the way in 3G services, many other markets in Asia are also fast catching up. "Businesses need to look at current regional [network] coverage and the expected rollout of 3G services should their business span across multiple markets," he said. "With 3G services, enterprise IT departments are now engaged in looking at true mobile broadband to complement mobility initiatives beyond wireless LAN deployments."

Namboka said: "With higher mobile accessibility through 3G services, and the 'data characteristics' of mobile broadband, IT departments must build their network systems to securely manage increased traffic loads, higher frequency of access and guard against the vulnerabilities that arise from Internet connectivity."

Gay Lim, a business development executive at Singapore-based engineering company ST Electronics, uses his PDA-phone to access his company's e-mail messages and work on business documents.

"It's convenient to access my e-mail and work on-the-go. Once I get back to office, I'll just synchronize my device with the desktop PC," Lim told ZDNet Asia, and added that he has to adhere to the company's IT policies regarding mobile e-mail access.

Topics: CXO, Apps, Mobility, Security, Software

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