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Decision makers may believe minimal or limited access is sufficient to get the benefits associated with mobile enablement. In practice, this tepid, apprehensive approach can actually create new bottlenecks for workers on a daily basis. A recent IDC study on mobility in the workplace captured the opinions of 1,056 mobile business users in the US to determine what those everyday challenges were. The results yielded three major themes.

1. Mobile and enterprise application access
"Anytime, anywhere access" is a common phrase when discussing mobility and workers, but the enablement of mobile access seems to be anything but. Respondents were asked which types of apps they access on which devices. Just over 70% of mobile business users said they accessed work email on their smartphones or tablets. However, other critical daily apps, such as enterprise social networks, company intranet and contracts, fell short, with less than 40% adoption per app.

Severely limiting mobile access not only hurts productivity but also worsens the document disconnect. In the case of sales enablement, limited mobile access to contracts means that a salesperson armed with a tablet in the field may not have all the information that he or she needs. Mobile-heavy workers, who are not getting what they need from information technology (IT), will likely use non-sanctioned or unsecured mobile apps to be able to perform their tasks. To remedy this, companies should look at internal systems and then evaluate the benefits of making such solutions mobile.

2. Mobile print enablement
No matter how digital we become, there are still times where workers will need to print documents from their mobile devices. Respondents from the study that did use mobile print noted high business benefits from being able to do so. However, only 32% of respondents did use a mobile printing service of some kind. Most non-users cited limited access to print from mobile phones or not knowing how to print for their low adoption. These types of responses are a bit troubling, especially if you are among the majority of organizations that do offer mobile printing to their workers.

IT departments who find that mobile printing adoption is low in their company may need to educate the workforce on how to do so. For those limiting access, mobile printing does not necessarily mean an influx of printing costs either. Many mobile printing solutions allow for billing, authentication or release verification. Respondents noted use of authentication methods for mobile print and still saw faster document turnaround time and higher transactions.

3. Do not forget the remote worker
As the workforce location changes, so do the requirements for how company information is accessed and shared. Mobile users are much more likely to be remote or traveling employees. However, the research shows that many organizations are still getting used to the idea of the "remote worker." For example, one of the most popular use cases not currently deployed, but that respondents wanted, is mobile printing while on the road to one’s office printer for oneself or someone else to pick up.

IT concerns today are still focused on the on-site, day-to-day workers. However, as the remote worker population grows, so will the demands for mobility. Organizations that do not invest in a remote mobile infrastructure now risk leaving a large chunk of their workforce with ineffective tools.

IT needs to think strategically to make sure the needs of their workforce are being met. As larger technology changes come into play, we have to first focus on making the technology at hand workable for our users.

Arianna Valentini is a senior research analyst on IDC's Hardcopy Industry Transformation and Page Volume Analysis research team. She is responsible for developing core service deliverables and custom research projects for clients, with a focus on how IDC's third platform is effecting industry transformation within the hard copy market. Ms. Valentini's areas of expertise include mobile technology, digital publishing software, brand strategy, market and trend analysis. Follow her on Twitter @LilVPrinterMC.

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