A Mobile Device Drama

by Jenny Rains
Date Published May 25, 2012 - Last Updated May 11, 2016


Recently, my mom and I were loading up my mom-mobile after a day of shopping. With two tykes in tow and armloads of swag, I set my BlackBerry down on the bumper of my car so I could strap one of my tiny shoppers into her car seat. My mom, slightly exhausted by what I call a normal day, tossed our bags into the back of the SUV and with what energy she had left, closed the heavy trunk door...on my phone. I heard a crack and an “Oh, no!” My phone, my connection to the virtual world, was suddenly damaged goods. Granted, if you can get past the crack across the photo of my kids’ faces on the home screen, it still works, but I decided to seize the opportunity and upgrade.

However, I found myself a little overwhelmed by all the options. Every I turn on the television, I am bombarded by commercials about the latest-and-greatest mobile devices. Any person in our industry has to wonder, “How can any IT organization even keep up with supporting all these emerging mobile devices?”

A recent HDI Research Corner set out to answer that question. Over 300 support centers shared their current practices to help answer some of the pressing questions on this topic.

Are support centers keeping up with the pace of new rollouts?

The list of mobile devices that consumers currently use is lengthy and it grows a little more every month (…or week...or day). However, survey results indicate that only 2 percent of support organizations are staying ahead of the pace of emerging mobile device technologies; about 41 percent are just keeping pace, and almost half (49%) are struggling to stay with the pack. Mobile devices are being released and embraced by customers faster than organizations can create policies around them and support teams can learn about them.

What devices are supported?

At the time of this survey, the Droid, BlackBerry, iPhone, and iPad were the mobile devices generating the most discussion in the support community. However, as a great example of the effect of today’s rapid-release model for mobile devices, since this survey data was collected in November 2010, many more devices entered the market. They are, therefore, not included in the survey results. The following graphs show the percent of support centers that currently support (fully or partially) each of the listed devices. BlackBerry is currently the most supported mobile device of those listed; 70 percent of support centers fully support them, and 12 percent partially support these devices if they are company-owned. Only 4 percent do not at least partially support company-owned BlackBerrys, while company-owned Droids, iPhones, and iPads are not supported by 16 percent, 12 percent, and 17 percent, respectively.

For BlackBerry and all other mobile devices, the data shows that companies are far less likely to support their customers’ personal devices. Whether a company supports a given device appears to depend on the type of device (i.e., we support BlackBerrys, but not iPhones), while there appears to be more of a blanket response to personal devices (i.e., we do not support personal devices at all).

Are customers allowed to connect to resources?

Mobile devices are designed to increase productivity and efficiency by providing access to information when employees or customers are away from their desktops. In addition to being the most supported devices, BlackBerrys are also the most widely accepted devices for accessing company resources; some 68 percent of support organizations allow all company-owned BlackBerrys to access business systems and information, and 13 percent allow at least some of their customers who carry company-owned BlackBerrys to do the same.

Again, it appears that the structure of access policies differs for company-owned versus personal devices. No matter which device a customer carries, if it is his or her personal device, organizations either allow customers to connect to company resources or they do not; about one-third of support organizations prohibit customers from accessing business resources on their personal devices. As for company-owned devices, again, policies vary based on the type of device.

Are support policies in place?

About 44 percent of support organizations are developing policies for mobile device support, while about 45 percent of support organizations have existing, well-defined policies. A small percentage (6%) have no policies and are not in the process of developing them.

It is not surprising that there is a relationship between overall maturity of a support organization’s policies and its ability to keep up with the pace of emerging mobile device technologies. The majority of the organizations that are able to keep up with the pace, or even stay ahead, have well-defined policies. And the majority of those that are struggling to keep up with the pace have policies that are still in development.

There are no signs that this current mobile boom will subside any time soon. It will be interesting to revisit this topic again in a year or so to see how much the industry has either matured or backed off of mobile device support. In the meantime, I will continue to make my calls, check my e-mail, and send photos of my kids through the cracked screen of what is fast becoming my ancient, obsolete BlackBerry.

To find out how you can participate in the HDI Research Corner and receive the monthly reports, visit www.ThinkHDI.com/BePartOfTheCorner.


Jenny Rains has worked with HDI in a research/analysis capacity since 2003. Before coming to HDI, Jenny was the research/data analyst for one of the largest school districts in Colorado. Her areas of expertise include survey development, research design, data analysis, program evaluation, and project management. Jenny received her BS in psychology from Sam Houston State University and an MA in experimental psychology, with a focus on research and statistics, from the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs.

Tag(s): technology, research, research corner


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