Financial Services Firms See Mobile Boom, But Blackberry and CIO Roles Fade

The financial services industry is on the verge of a mobile explosion. The number of smartphones will double in the next year. However, BlackBerry use is headed in the opposite direction as companies migrate to other mobile platforms. The role of CIOs in mobililty is also fading.

Embattled BlackBerry is about to get hit hard in one of its most important enterprise customer segments, financial services. BlackBerry stands to lose at least 15 percent of its share of mobile devices -- from 44 percent to 30 percent -- in the next 12 months, as companies move to a multi-platform, BYOD mobile environment.

This is the key finding in a Ponemon survey of 405 financial services companies in the United States, commissioned by MobileIron, whose results were released today.

And it gets worse for BlackBerry.

The survey found that the financial services industry, which is made up of mostly knowledge workers, is on the verge of a mobile explosion. The number of smartphones will double in the next year; the average financial company supports 7,430 smartphones today, which will grow to more than 14,000.

[Related: 10 Mobile Tech Predictions for 2014 ]

"I think it probably ends up being a double hit for BlackBerry, meaning that all the new devices coming in are new platforms and the existing BlackBerrys are shrinking," says Ojas Rege, vice president of strategy at MobileIron.

Will Smartphones Replace Laptop and Desktop PCs?

Another startling stat: 69 percent of respondents say their CIO believes smartphones and tablets will replace most desktops and laptops. For a data-centric industry such as financial services, it's a pretty big step and may signal a wider trend to move off the desktop.

What's causing this mobile explosion? Call it the BYOD effect. Most knowledge workers already have a personal mobile device, at least a smartphone, and are simply waiting for the company to install a BYOD program. A well-developed BYOD plan, says Rege, rockets up mobile device adoption.

Lines of business also want to tap the power mobility has on workers despite security risks. The top three reasons to move off BlackBerry: employee productivity, employee demand and availability of apps.

[Related: Which Workers Are the Best Fit for BYOD?]

Less than a third of respondents said the CIO believes security of smartphones and tablets trumps end-user choices, says the Ponemon report. While malware is considered the biggest risk to business data on mobile devices, only 48 percent of respondents have mobile security features in place.

CIOs Losing Mobile Clout

But CIOs might not have much of a say in the matter. Like BlackBerry itself, many CIOs in financial services have taken a reduced role in mobility. According to the survey, only 16 percent of respondents said the CIO is most responsible for the organization's mobile strategy, while 48 percent said the line of business runs the show. In addition, the lines of business believe moving off BlackBerry is highly urgent, whereas IT didn't share the same urgency.

"Business and IT priorities are not aligned, and that's going to cause some conflict," Rege says.

[Related: 5 Reasons You Can Finally Ditch BlackBerry]

Migrating from BlackBerry to a multi-OS environment is wrought with hidden costs, too. The average amount budgeted for this migration is $4 million, or $547 per managed device. But respondents believe they'll face a shortfall; the average cost could be as high as $16.9 million, or $2,276 per managed device.

"Two years ago, no one budgeted for a BlackBerry migration," Rege says. "This wasn't planned. It just happened."

For more on MobileIron's findings, see the infographic below:

mobility, CIO, enterprise mobility

Click image to view full PDF

Tom Kaneshige covers Apple, BYOD and Consumerization of IT for CIO.com. Follow Tom on Twitter @kaneshige. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline, Facebook, Google + and LinkedIn. Email Tom at tkaneshige@cio.com

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