Will mobile worker apps become ‘ubiquitous’ in security?

An analyst from Frost & Sullivan expects mobile worker apps for sales personnel and technicians to be the norm
Tuesday, October 14, 2014

SAN ANTONIO, Texas—Among recent trends gaining traction in the security industry, mobile worker apps stand out as one of the most highly deployed and frequently discussed. Such tools have transformed the way field sales personnel and technicians do business, allowing them to be more efficient and effective on the job.

The mobile worker app market is fragmented and “finally beginning to receive the attention it deserves,” according to Jeanine Sterling, principal analyst at Frost & Sullivan, who recently led a webinar focusing on the current state and future outlook of the mobile worker app market.

In Frost & Sullivan’s survey of 300 North American businesses, both large and small and across a range of industries, 82 percent said they deploy mobile worker apps. Though Sterling noted they’re well on the way to becoming “ubiquitous,” she cautioned that the high adoption rate covers a range of mobile worker apps that vary in complexity. That means they could include a tool as simple as a GPS mapping product or as sophisticated as an in-house solution, she said.

Another interesting finding from the survey: 79 percent of businesses plan to add one or more new employee-facing mobile apps by late 2015.

Sterling said mobile worker apps have been mischaracterized, to some extent, as being untamed and difficult to manage. The Frost & Sullivan survey, however, seems to paint a contrary picture, with only 26 percent of respondents viewing usage of unauthorized mobile apps to be a problem.

Forty percent of businesses reported some kind of enterprise mobility management (EMM) platform, Sterling noted, while another 36 percent are planning to develop and introduce one within the next three years, ensuring that “the framework is available for future use.”

Currently, the trend of companies deploying a hybrid of both on-premise and cloud-based apps is rising, Sterling said, as is the preference for pre-packaged or pre-built apps, which are favored by 80 percent of businesses in the survey. While choosing which mobile worker apps to deploy has traditionally been the province of IT departments, Sterling expects the decision-making process to be far more collaborative in the future, involving several different departments.   

As far as what could impede rates of adoption, security concerns, high costs and lack of necessity will likely remain the primary barriers, Sterling noted. Still, demand for mobile worker apps is here and accelerating, and the benefits of incorporating them into a business could prove to be too valuable and numerous to restrain the market’s growth.

“Companies are deploying mobile worker apps because now more than ever they expect real, quantifiable business benefits,” including “more productive workers and better sales processes,” Sterling said.