Mobile workers in Ireland will represent 57pc of the working population by 2016, or 1.4m, up from 48pc in 2011. This is according to a report by O2 and IDC which also claims the Irish smartphone market will grow 12pc to 1.3m units, overtaking legacy mobile phones.
According to the O2/IDC report, by 2016 smartphones will represent 88pc of all units shipped in the Irish mobile device market – 2.2m devices.
There is an obvious movement among certain software companies and mobile operators to espouse the benefits of technologies like unified communications and work-anywhere policies.
But you have to wonder, is this wishful thinking or just plain marketing? Are organisations really going to change how they operate in Ireland?
For one thing, employers will need to lose the old-fashioned mindset of workers having to be at their desks to get the job done and allow the results speak for themselves. That requires trust and in a recessionary Ireland that isn’t often in high supply.
There is no doubt the technologies are there and most workers have broadband at home and smartphones in their pockets.
Exciting developments in terms of tablet computers and 4G loom large on the horizon so technologically it is entirely feasible. The only thing that needs to change is the mindsets of workers and their employers.
So, what is happening on the mobile worker front?
"The ‘consumerisation’ of IT is happening at a rapid rate as more employees experience a blurring of business and private usage of technology," commented Nicholas McQuire, director, Mobile Enterprise Strategies EMEA at IDC, who co-wrote the report.
“Irish IT managers are struggling with the proliferation of consumer devices invading the workspace, not just smartphones, but tablets."
O2’s Alan Brown agreed: "These days it is quite likely that senior managers or the CEO will come into the office with the latest smartphone or tablet under his or her arm. The move towards flexible working and consumerisation is now unstoppable.
“While this is putting organisations under pressure in how they securely support their people, O2’s enterprise mobility strategy, which we call ‘Joined up People’, offers a combination of consultancy, communications products, security capabilities and technical expertise to help them meet that challenge."
Nicholas McQuire of IDC agreed that IT directors should embrace, not resist, change.
"Rather than fear new technology development and changes in the way employees work, CIOs must make the most of such dynamic transformation."
He referred to recent IDC research which found that the top 3 challenges in supporting the new mobile workforce were: security, either of the corporate network cited by 31pc of respondents, or protecting data on the device itself (29pc); cost (41pc); and management of data and devices (37pc).