Pressure on companies to provide work/life balance programs for employees, combined with advances in mobile technologies is increasing the number of mobile workers in the U.S. and around the world, and by year-end 2011 nearly 75 percent of the U.S. workforce will be mobile, a new study says.
According to the study, “Worldwide Mobile Worker 2007-2011 Forecast and Analysis,” from Framingham, Mass.-based marketing and analysis firm IDC, the worldwide number of mobile workers will likely increase from 758.6 million in 2006 to more than 1 billion by year-end 2011.
The current generation of workers is demanding more flexibility and mobility in their schedules. They also have a higher comfort level with technology in general, including remote access technologies and mobile devices. The proliferation of high-speed networks, widespread public Wi-Fi hotspots and fixed-mobile convergence (FMC) technology now allows employees to work effectively from almost anywhere, the study says.
In addition to meeting the demands of today's workforce, enterprises are deploying mobile solutions to meet both horizontal and vertical industry needs driven by increasing business response time as well as to help reduce corporate space and leasing requirements. Organizations deploying mobile solutions have a strategic competitive advantage over their competitors who have not invested in integrating mobility into their work culture, according to the report.
There are risks, however, with going mobile. "Although mobility deployments can bring a number of benefits to companies, they also bring risks associated with sensitive data sitting on small devices that can be easily lost," said Stephen Drake, program director, Mobile Enterprise Services. "Developing a plan around managing and securing devices should be part of any large mobility deployment."
The U.S. workforce has the highest percentage of mobile workers at 68 percent in 2006. However, Japan's rates will increase the most during the forecast period with mobile workers accounting for nearly 80 percent of the workforce by year-end 2011, up from 53 percent in 2006.
The IDC study (www.idc.com) provides a worldwide five-year mobile worker population forecast through 2011 and analysis in five regions: the United States, Western Europe, Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan), Japan, and the rest of the world (ROW).