Here’s Hoping They’re Wrong: Why Consumerization Can’t Take the Cake, Strategy Analytics

I was intrigued when reading the summary of a recent Strategy Analytics survey revealing that mobile workers now comprise nearly one-third of the total workforce of the U.S., UK, France and Germany, with mobile device spending one of four mobility line-items that increased the most in 2014. While I’m not surprised by the workforce breakdown – and actually suspect that mobile worker percentage may skew higher in verticals such as public safety, utilities and natural resources – I would be interested to see how the pie is sliced when talking about the type of mobile devices that these organizations purchased last year.

With line-of-business management and IT supposedly driving mobility investments, it would only make sense that they choose mobile devices purpose-built and “trained” to bear the demanding workload expectations of any business PC – anytime, anywhere.In other words, mobile devices that offer more than just portable email and phone call capabilities.

Yet Strategy Analytics predicts that we’ll see “more consumerization but also greater involvement from LOBs (line of business) to choose preferred mobile devices.” Secretly, I hope they’re wrong about the consumerization part.

consumer devices

Not for selfish or bias reasons given my company’s focus on rugged mobile devices. Not your typical consumer selection, obviously. The fact is, I think it’s fantastic that the LOBs are set to gain influence in the decision-making process. They are ultimately the front-line workers that need these devices to do their jobs quickly and correctly and they know their mobility tech challenges best. They are also the keepers of the mobile workflow wishlist – which a device can make or break.

I would just hate to see them increasingly choose a consumer device simply because it’s the name that’s familiar. If they’ve been fully informed on all the options available to them and they’re confident a smartphone or Samsung Galaxy tab is the right device for their specific budget and job profile. Some professionals’ jobs rely on appearances and being armed with a sexy iPad, for example, is a must have. I get it. For them, I can’t argue that the iPad is the right device for their set of criteria. But I also know that in field service industries where functionality and ruggedness are critical, not all LOB decision makers get to sit in the meetings our sales reps have with IT to see and feel other, maybe better, device options. In those cases, I just think they deserve to know the possibilities of mobile work life beyond well-known consumer brands. Otherwise, consumerization is bound to creep in due solely to name familiarity and (what will ultimately prove to be) wasteful spending creeps up. Consider this:

  • Consumer devices fail up to four to five times more often than enterprise-class devices and…
  • Device failure is the leading cause of downtime.
  • Employee down time = loss of productivity and…
  • Longer stretches of lost productivity and more IT support leading to much greater total cost of ownership (TCO).

In a nutshell, mobile employees on an average lose 76-101 minutes of productivity when mobile devices fail, or 52 percent of TCO . That’s why, in my opinion, consumerization will likely rise and fall quickly if it even rises at all. At least within those industries which workers’ “offices” are everywhere but home office.

See more on this topic in Part two.