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Last year, mobile device adoption in the enterprise was plummeting and it looked like the decrease would continue. Planned investment was low, and our argument was that the devices themselves just weren’t that sexy. The “action” was in the applications, and most enterprises were putting their investment there. This is still true, but surprisingly, mobile device adoption not only recovered but reached exceeded recent highs.
As seen in Figure 2 from our full report, Mobile and Wearable Devices Adoption and Customer Experience, the percentage of organizations having adopted mobile devices and wearables had fallen from 61% in 2016 to 45% in 2018. But adoption rose to 68% in 2019. So how did this happen?
There doesn’t appear to be an obvious reason for this increase. No game-changing device was launched this year. Satisfaction, return on investment, and total cost of ownership have been high even in the middle of the decline. It simply appears that mobile device adoption mirrors application adoption. Last year, our respondents reported a strong desire to invest in mobile applications. It appears that the investment in applications has to be mirrored with investment in devices. Generally positive economic growth also might have something to do with the increase in adoption and investment.
"It appears that many enterprises interested in investing in mobile apps decided it was prudent to invest in the devices that run the apps," said David Wagner, vice president of research for Computer Economics, based in Irvine, Calif. "By investing in the devices enterprises have more control over the mobile experience, can reduce the cost of supporting multiple devices, and generally have a better security experience."
Our definition of mobile and wearable devices includes company-supported smartphones, tablet computers, mobile data collection scanners, smartwatches, smart glasses, and other mobile and wearable devices. We do not include traditional laptop computers in this category, although we do include convertible tablets (also called hybrid tablets). We also do not include devices in the hands of employees that are not supported by the IT department.
Mobile devices also include bar-code and RFID readers from manufacturers such as Motorola, Symbol Technologies (owned by Zebra Technologies), Intermec, and others. These ruggedized devices continue to have their place in distribution, manufacturing, and transportation, but in some applications, smartphone and tablet apps have been able to displace these costly devices for lightweight use cases.
The full report examines mobile and wearable device adoption and investment trends, providing data on how many organizations have mobile devices in place, how many are in the process of implementing them, and how many are expanding their investments. We also look at the return on investment experience, total cost of ownership experience, and how organizations are using mobile devices. We conclude with recommendations on getting the most business value from mobile/wearable devices, whether for traditional applications or for doing business in new ways.