Mobile Computing Enters the Enterprise Mainstream

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Mobile devices—including employee-owned and corporate-provided smartphones and tablets—are rapidly becoming a primary point of access to more than just email and texting. However, the proliferation of mobile application users also presents new challenges to IT departments, as the users demand access to business-critical data and processes, creating security, management, and development challenges.

These are the findings of a new survey of 537 data center managers, conducted among the members of the SHARE users group and GUIDE SHARE EUROPE, as well as subscribers to IBM Systems Magazine, Mainframe Edition. The survey, which was fielded during November and December of 2012, was sponsored by IBM and conducted by Unisphere Research, a division of Information Today, Inc. in partnership with SHARE, GUIDE SHARE EUROPE and IBM Systems Magazine, Mainframe Edition.

The survey covered a wide range of organizations across the globe, primarily from the financial services, tech, professional services, and government sectors. Respondents also represented a range of organization sizes, from more than $1 billion a year in revenues (24%) to smaller firms with less than $50 million (24%). Respondents were primarily IT managers or executives (30%) and analysts or architects (36%).

The survey finds most organizations provide mobile devices, support BYOD (bring your own device) and reimburse users for their use. One-fourth of respondents indicate their companies will reimburse employees for at least part of their expenses for personal devices, while 13% support BYOD but without reimbursements. A majority, 59%, supply employees with corporate smartphones or tablets. Apple and Google (Android) smartphones and tablets are heavily used (especially tablets), though the BlackBerry smartphone is the most widely used in enterprise settings, as indicated by 60% of respondents.

Mobile application and system development is already an enterprise affair for many organizations. More than one-fourth of respondents, 26%, say their mainframe developers are also actively working with mobile apps as well. Another 27% indicate they have midrange-system developers on these tasks.

In terms of enterprise applications, email is seen as the most important mobile app, the survey finds—a majority, 59%, rate the ability to access corporate email as “business critical.” Another 43% say their employees’ mobile devices need to be able to access their organization’s virtual private network. Other applications mentioned include business intelligence, CRM access, and collaboration.  At this time, fewer than one out of 10 are concerned with mobile integration into back-end systems, such as ERP. However, this may change. 

Most Important Mobile Apps in Enterprises

Percent rating app as “business critical”)



Business intelligence.....14%

Text messaging or instant messaging.....13%

CRM access.....12%

Collaboration environments.....10%

ERP application access.....9%

Personal or business banking.....9%

Personal information management.....9%

Video conferencing......7%

That’s because mobile device proliferation and application development and management, represents a paradigm shift in both enterprise and personal computing. As the survey shows, IT departments are struggling to provide comprehensive enterprise security, mobile device management, and access for employees, consultants, and partners to business-critical enterprise information.

Already, a majority of executives and professionals in this survey report that their IT operations are being impacted by the security issues presented by mobile devices. More than 60% of respondents worry about user authentication issues presented by mobile access, and 56% are concerned with whether they should open up back-end enterprise data stores.  Mobile device management presents another conundrum for IT managers—they need to find ways to safely open up resources for the plethora of devices now being used within their enterprises, as well as lock down or delete information in the event the devices are lost or stolen. Mobile application development is also a task being assumed at many enterprise shops. Mobile devices are built on a wide range of operating systems—from Apple’s iOS to Android to Microsoft Windows RT and Windows Phone.

The most common security model in use—cited by 40% of respondents—is to only allow employees with corporate-managed devices to access back-end data. Another 15% report beefing up their back-end systems security to handle BYOD, but 25% still simply don’t know what needs to be done.

The survey also finds that enterprise mobile is a global phenomenon and challenge, with no significant difference between North American responses and those from Europe, Middle East, Africa and the rest of the world.            

Mobile Issues Impacting IT Departments (North America Only)

Security—user authentication.....61%

Security—back-end data access.....56%

Mobile device management.....51%

Application development.....41%

Application integration.....40%

Data integration.....20%

Database management.....15%

Disk storage retention/backup/recovery.....12%

Disk storage capacity.....9%


The executive report of this study is publicly available, and SHARE members may log in to access the full research paper, “SHARE and GUIDE SHARE EUROPE Mobile Computing Survey,” at