What Type of Mobile Worker Rules Your Company?

From wannabes to mavericks, today's four types of enterprise mobile workers demand unique IT strategies, Forrester says. Here's their advice on how IT can serve a diverse, roaming workforce.

You remember the office — that place you used to go every day.

In 2010, according to a survey of 5,500 business technology end-users by research firm Forrester, 78 percent of workers worked from their company office at least once a week. However, 34 percent of survey respondents report telecommuting from their homes, while traveling, or from locations like coffee shops at least once per week.

Recognizing that mobile worker flexibility can boost productivity, IT departments have jumped in by expanding smartphone support and rolling out a wider variety of company-specific mobile applications.

A Forrester survey taken in early 2010 of a 2,000 network and telecom decision-makers showed that 46 percent of respondents saw "supporting more mobile applications for out-of-office users" as an adoption priority for the next year and 44 percent saw "supporting more mobile devices or smartphones (not laptops)" as a priority.

If you're a smartphone-wielding mobile worker, you are in the majority of corporate employees (57 percent, according to Forrester). But a workforce is a diverse animal and mobile workers come in different flavors and get different support from IT.

In a new report from Forrester entitled "The Rise of Wannabe and Maverick Mobile Workers" by analyst Michele Pelino, four different types of enterprise mobile workers are spotlighted. Here's how they break down and what they mean for IT.

Mobile Information Workers

Mobile information worker

Profile: Mobile information workers are usually consultants, financial services professionals or banking execs who travel frequently, but must stay in touch with the office through e-mail and collaboration tools. They spend a lot of time outside the office analyzing information and interacting with partners and customers.

Forrester estimates that in 2010, 24 percent of all enterprise mobile workers were mobile information workers, and by 2015, the segment will expand to 30 percent.

Mobile devices and apps used: Information workers use a variety of mobile devices and are reimbursed for the devices. The typical information worker prefers a company-sanctioned phone to access data only necessary for work. These folks also tend to favor cross-platform mobile apps because they often use different types of mobile devices to access work-related apps for e-mail, collaboration and video conferencing.

IT's Role: Information workers expect mobile support from the corporate IT team because they spend time away from the office and rely on their smartphones. In return, IT treats information workers as top mobile employees and supports their smartphones and applications.

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