Just ask anyone who has catapulted an Angry Bird or two; mobile devices such as Apple's iPhone or Samsung's Galaxy smartphone are spectacularly effective timewasters. Yet for a staggering majority of people, they're also gateways to improved efficiency at work.
According to the findings in CDW's 2012 Small Business Mobility Report (registration required), 94 percent of mobile users say that using smartphones and tablets during the course of their workday made them more efficient. Eighty five percent of IT managers say that mobile devices make their companies more efficient as a whole.
The fact that nearly all of the 752 respondents that the company polled for the study share these views isn't surprising to Jill Billhorn, vice president of CDW's small business division.
Mobile Devices Level the Playing Field
Billhorn says that the real-time productivity enabled by smartphones and tablets exemplifies some of the qualities admired among small businesses: speed and agility. Mobile devices and their ballooning app ecosystems "allow small businesses to move faster than before," she says.
This particular capability comes in handy in hyper-competitive industries, where entrepreneurs and startups often find themselves competing alongside big, established corporations. Mobility, says Billhorn, helps "small businesses appear larger, react to a customer base and react faster to trends in their business."
Moreover, CDW discovered that without mobile devices, 67 percent of respondents felt that they would lose competitive ground in today's market.
Small Business BYOD Takes Off
Perhaps that's why a majority of IT managers, 79 percent in fact, issued smartphones to some of their workers. A slimmer majority, 55 percent, said that they deployed tablets.
Among the top mobile device benefits cited by respondents, improved communication between field and office workers tied with increased availability to customers at 60 percent. Other top benefits include increased employee productivity (55 percent), better customer service (53 percent) and increased collaboration (45 percent).
Despite these perks, there are signs that small businesses struggle to manage the flood of new devices. Eighty-nine percent of IT managers said that small business employees are embracing bring-your-own-device (BYOD) and using personal, non-company issued, mobile devices for work.
Only 51 percent of those IT pros said that their companies have an effective IT strategy to deal with mobile device use among their employees. And only a third (33 percent) expressed familiarity with mobile device management (MDM) solutions.
That won't remain the status quo for much longer, predicts Billhorn.
More administrators will flock to MDM solutions when it "comes to the point when it makes sense to allow BYOD" in their organizations. She adds that MDM will show up on their radar when they realize that they "need a way to manage those devices in a secure and consistent way."
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