Singapore, Bangalore top mobile-readiness

update The two Asian cities are the most receptive toward using mobile applications at work, according to a Nokia-commissioned study.
Written by Victoria Ho, Contributor
A correction was made to this story. Read below for details.

update SINGAPORE--Bangalore and Singapore are the Asia-Pacific's two leading cities in mobility readiness, according to the findings of a study commissioned by Nokia.

Conducted by Saffron Hill, the study surveyed 300 IT decision makers and another 300 business users in Bangalore, Mumbai, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore to assess companies and users' adoption and awareness of business mobility.

The same study last year did not include the category of business users; it was added this year, because of the growing number of users who use mobility devices outside of work, according to Nokia.

Speaking at a press briefing held here today, Mary McDowell, executive vice president and general manager of enterprise solutions for Nokia, said: "We've noticed a 'consumerization' of mobility. Besides work, there's the consumer side too. You may want to check your personal mail in addition to work mail, and there is a vast opportunity in the market for users who demand real-time information exchange."

In terms of organizations' mobility readiness, which was based on the scores of the IT decision-makers surveyed, Singapore overtook Bangalore in the list for 2007, ranking at the top with a score of 213, compared to Bangalore's 197. Last year's study placed Bangkok in first place with a score of 221, followed by Singapore with 193.

A large part of Singapore's score came from its high usage of mobility applications, such as e-mail or Internet access on the go, as well as VPN (virtual private network) readiness, wireless LAN availability, and adoption of security policies.

Mathia Nalappan, Asia-Pacific vice president of enterprise solutions for Nokia, said: "Wireless LAN availability is more widespread in Singapore, due in part to the success of the government's Wireless@SG initiative.

"Roughly half of those, who have wireless LAN route, voice communication over the wireless network infrastructure, which has great ROI for many companies," Nalappan added.

Kuala Lumpur saw the biggest jump in scores to 195, from last year's 154. The city also had the highest ranking in terms of having security policies in place, with a score of 92.

"Kuala Lumpur is catching up with other top players," said Nalappan.

Business users
In terms of business users, Bangalore topped the chart, ahead of Mumbai and Hong Kong which placed second and third, respectively. Nalappan attributed this to its executives' use of mobility devices, especially when working from home.

"Also, Bangalore's companies support a mobile work culture," said Nalappan, adding that "people tend to use a device more when they have spent a lot of money on it". He was referring to the price of mobile devices in proportion to the average income in the city, compared to that of the other countries surveyed.

Despite Singapore's organizations "being perceived as very advanced in mobility adoption", its business users ranked the lowest in the regional study. More users in Singapore said they "could live without a smartphone or PDA", compared to most respondents of the other countries.

Cost remained an outstanding barrier against business user adoption, the study found. Singaporean and Hong Kong mobile users were particularly concerned about the inability to switch off from work if they were contactable at all times.

Top five most popularly used mobile applications in descending order:

  1. Mobile e-mail
  2. Internet access
  3. Calendaring functions and contact info synchronization with corporate network
  4. Intranet and/or corporate database access
  5. Viewing office documents

Correction: This article previously stated that Bangkok was second place behind Singapore in terms of organizations' mobility readiness. It is, in fact, Bangalore that ranked second in the survey. The story has been updated with the changes.

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