Study: Asian businesses want to go mobile

But uncertainty remains as some companies across four countries in the region grapple with implementation issues, a Nokia study finds.

SINGAPORE--While most Asian companies are well aware of the benefits of going mobile, some are unsure about how to put together a proper enterprise mobility strategy, according to findings in a new study commissioned by Nokia.

Conducted by Saffron Hill Research, the survey polled 50 IT decision makers each from Singapore, Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, Bangkok in Thailand, and three Indian cities--Mumbai, New Delhi and Bangalore. Respondents were from companies with at least 50 employees and annual revenues of at least US$2 million.

According to Raymond Ng, managing director of Saffron Hill, the 300 respondents were asked a range of questions to gauge their company's adoption and awareness of business mobility. These included questions about the organization's usage of mobile applications such as mobile e-mail and calendar, distribution of mobile devices to employees, supporting infrastructure and device management and security policies.

Saffron Hill then collated the data to plot each company's rating or what Nokia coins, Mobility Readiness Index.

Bangkok emerged with the highest level of readiness, at a mean score of 225, followed by Singapore at 193 and Bangalore at 170.

According to Mathia Nalappan, Nokia's Asia-Pacific vice president of enterprise solutions, the survey findings may not indicate actual penetration rate in the respective Asian markets, but it does indicate awareness of the benefits and "an intention" to adopt a mobility strategy.

Most of the companies cited increased employee productivity as the main reason for having a mobile strategy, while Thai respondents said employee demand was the biggest push for their companies to adopt mobility.

However, Nalappan noted, the companies' readiness to go mobile did not always correspond directly to how well they had executed a mobility strategy.

For example, while 86 percent of companies in Bangkok gave their users access to at least two mobile applications, only 6 percent provided laptops to employees, Nalappan said.

More telling, none of the 50 respondents in New Delhi have implemented policies to manage mobile devices in their company, even though 58 percent have made at least two mobile applications available to their staff.

Only one to two of every 10 companies polled have policies in place to determine which mobile devices were used to access the corporate network, Nalappan said. And while most of the respondents put security at the top of their list of requirements when scouting for mobility tools, not all have security policies on the corporate intranets.

The three most-used mobile applications among respondents in the four markets are: mobile e-mail (58 percent), mobile calendar and contact (47 percent) and access to intranet (42 percent).

Other key findings, across all four countries, include:

  • 21 percent currently do not provide employees access to mobile applications;
  • 81 percent have installed antivirus software on the mobile devices;
  • 82 percent view security as a key concern when they purchase enterprise mobility tools. In India, however, only 32 percent--the lowest percentage--see security as a key concern, where 55 percent view best connection as the most important component;
  • 45 percent plan to increase mobile device purchases for their employees;
  • 92 percent use password protection;
  • 56 percent have security policies, while only 13.3 percent have policies to manage mobile devices;
  • 43 percent allow employees to work from home; and
  • 74 percent recognize importance of providing employee training for mobile tools.

Nalappan said the study provided Nokia insight into the state of readiness of Asian organizations for mobile enterprise applications.

"This helps us to customize our offerings and drive business mobility adoption in Asia," he said, noting that Nokia has started to offer products that have been tweaked to meet the requirements of companies that have adopted a mobility strategy.

For example, the Finnish vendor already offers mobile phones that come with, or without cameras, catering to companies that prohibit employees from carrying camera phones in the office.