IT Buyer Survey Reveals Changes in Mobility and Digital Workplace

Business Outcomes and Security Take Centre Stage

Results from our recent Decision-Maker Mobile Technology Survey, 2016 show us changes since last year’s survey are wide-reaching. They encompass shifts in technology buying and spending levels, new priorities and challenges, organisational change and brand affinities.

In October 2016, we surveyed 400 mobile technology decision-makers in the US and four European countries about their purchasing preferences for enterprise mobility and digital workplace products.

This is an overview of the survey highlights and what they mean for the market. Contact us if you’d like to read our full report.

Focus Shifting to Business Value and Results

In 2016, we’ve seen businesses mature their mobility and digital workplace efforts. Firstly, organisations are increasingly focusing on business results, with 38 percent of respondents stating that improving productivity and efficiency was the most important outcome from investing in mobile technology.

On average, buyers felt there was a 25 percent improvement in worker productivity through investing in mobility. They also believed organisations achieve on average a 21 percent improvement in cost reduction; and an 18 percent improvement in revenue generation through the technology.

But it’s important to note that these were largely “gut feel” responses, because only a minority of firms actually measure the impact of investment: only 30 percent of respondents stated they measured return on investment from mobility initiatives.

Line-of-Business Spending Is Accelerating Faster Than IT Expenditure

Departments and business units are taking the majority of responsibility for budgets and business requirements for mobile technology. This year’s survey revealed a staggering 74 percent of total spending on mobility is now outside IT departments, up from 69% last year.

The biggest departmental spenders were operations, which accounted for 17 percent of total mobility spending, followed by sales (13 percent) and customer service (13 percent), with marketing, finance and HR accounting for less than 10 percent each. Respondents expected these proportions to remain fairly consistent over the next 24 months.

Windows 10 and Changes to IT Operations

Another critical set of findings related to the expected adoption of Windows 10. According to our survey, 86 percent of firms expect to upgrade their Windows PCs to Windows 10 within three to four years, with 47 percent planning to do so within the next 12 months.

One of the most fascinating results this year revealed a lot of expected organisational change inside IT departments in the coming years thanks to the converged nature of Windows 10: 83 percent of respondents said that desktop and mobility operations in IT departments will converge into a single strategy and team within the next three years; 44 percent said this would happen in the next 12 months.

Cloud Productivity and Collaboration Apps Escalate

Employee apps have been a top trend over the past 24 months, fuelled by rapid growth in software-as-a-service business apps.

According to decision-makers, the five most-supported apps for employees beyond e-mail were Microsoft Office, Skype, Google Apps, Dropbox and Facebook. These were fairly consistent with results in 2015 and with employees’ responses to our 2016 employee survey, which listed Office, Adobe, Skype, LinkedIn and WhatsApp as their top five most commonly used apps at work.

Top mobile or cloud apps used by employees

Click on the graphic for a larger version. Or click here for a PDF.

Application Development and Policies Need to Mature

But there is still a high degree of immaturity in strategies for custom application development, as well as a large disconnect between decision-makers and employees on app policies.

Only 28 percent of companies have built custom applications for their employees, for example, and 89 percent do not provide a private app store, including 71 percent of large firms.

Additionally, decision-makers and employees seem to be at odds when it comes to app policies. The majority of decision makers claim mobile apps are governed by existing IT policies, but most employees claim their organisations lack clarity on app processes. When buying apps, 69 percent of decision-makers say their IT department requires employees to gain the IT department’s approval, whereas only 31 percent of employees said the same.

Security Is a Top Problem and a Priority for Investment

The biggest challenge holding back application development inside organisations — and a major theme across the survey — is data security, cited by 45 percent of respondents as the biggest barrier.

In fact, IT security has grown in importance to decision-makers so much that it has become the biggest challenge and inhibitor to enterprise mobility and digital workplace overall; it was cited by 22 percent of respondents. This represents a large shift since 2015, when our survey highlighted market complexity and technology change as the top barriers.

The shift is indicative of the changing landscape in security as a result of several high-profile breaches in 2016. In addition, the EU’s new General Data Protection Regulation will come into force in 2018, with the threat of fines of up to 4 percent of global turnover for companies that fail to protect customers’ data.

Security has therefore become the top priority for investment in 2017. When asked which critical areas of enterprise mobility they planned to invest in during the next 12 months, respondents listed security technologies in three of the top four priority investment areas: network security (cited by 42 percent), device security (39 percent), app security (25 percent) and connectivity (26 percent).

Brand Preferences

When asked which brands were most important overall to their company’s enterprise mobility strategy, decision-makers chose Apple and Microsoft as the leading names, with both brands listed as most important by 35 percent of respondents. Samsung (23 percent), Google (21 percent) and Cisco Systems (9 percent) rounded out the top five.

This a significant change from our survey in 2015, in which Apple held a large majority (48 percent) over second-place Microsoft (34 percent). Over the past year, Microsoft has made some notable advances in enterprise mobility that seem to be resonating with decision-makers. Apple, by contrast, has made little noise in the enterprise market apart from announcing some partnerships which have yet to fully materialise. Only 7 percent of decision-makers in France, for example, listed Apple as most important to their workplace mobility strategy for instance.


Like last year, our decision-maker survey reveals significant transformation taking place in the business mobility market.

Increasing technology maturity and focus on business outcomes are driving changes in spending and reorganisation in IT departments. However, many companies remain held back by significant challenges in mobile security, custom app development and application governance.

With cyber-threats increasing and new regulation on the horizon, mobile security is set to become the biggest priority for buyers as we head into 2017 as well.

A hot question I hear often from IT leaders is “Who’s winning in this market?” Over the past 12 months, judging by our survey, the answer is Microsoft. Propelled by a big year in security, cloud, productivity apps and the positivity surrounding Windows 10, Microsoft has grown its brand credibility significantly, especially against Apple.

It will be fascinating to see if this is still the case in 2017 as we expect further transformation in the market next year.