Netbooks Helping Companies Go Wireless

The unwired enterprise is on the march, according to a new report by analyst house Juniper Research that says mobile business connections are being fuelled by smarter converged devices and better access to faster wireless broadband networks.

There will be 722 million mobile business connections worldwide by 2014, the Future Mobile Enterprise report predicts—an overall increase of almost 60 per cent on 2008's level of connectivity.

The analyst points to the increasing functionality offered by mobile devices as a core catalyst for increased adoption—including email, collaboration, document management, CRM and ERP—adding that additional business processes are also likely to benefit from mobilisation. "Many players in the industry expect that the next stage of development will see businesses move well beyond email and document exchange as new means of expediting the interaction between the enterprise and employees, clients, and partners emerge," the report states.

Between 2008 and 2014 mobile handsets will dominate mobile business connections, accounting for more than 70 per cent of enterprise devices in the latter part of the forecast period. Dongles and embedded modems are also set to grow. However dongle use will peak in 2010/11 as businesses switch to embedded modems which are forecast to grow by more than 300 per cent between 2008 and 2014, says Juniper.

The analyst also reckons netbooks will also gain ground in the enterprise, as they offer an inexpensive way of boosting the effectiveness of employees in the field.

As mobility becomes ever more attractive and affordable, the analyst also believes the under-desk 'brick' (aka desktop PC) faces an uncertain future as enterprises place less emphasis on buying traditional computers—investing instead in combined laptop-and-phone packages for staff which bring added productivity and flexibility benefits. The report predicts 'portables' will account for around 60 per cent of annual business PC sales by the end of this year.

The proliferation of 3G networks is also pushing enterprises down the unwired path as it becomes increasingly cost effective to replicate a desktop PC environment with wireless hardware, according to the analyst. The report predicts around 80 per cent of business mobile devices will be operating on 3.5/3.9G networks by 2014.

Revenues generated by mobile enterprise service usage worldwide will grow to $247bn by 2014, the report adds.

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