IT shops face ever greater mobile demands from users

Survey shows most want to connect devices via Wi-Fi over cellular

Nearly two-thirds of mobile device users own three or more network-connected devices, according to an online survey of 5000 people conducted in November in the U.S. and eight other countries ( download PDF).

That finding shows just how popular smartphones, tablets and other connected devices -- including cars -- have become in the past two years. And it also shows the challenges facing IT shops that manage workers who now expect to have constant network connections in the office and while on the road.

Aruba, a networking company, commissioned the online survey, which was done by Shape the Future. In the US; 1133 people responded.

"While everybody seems to be using mobile devices, the interest now is magnified with [62 per cent] owning three or more connected devices," Manav Kurana, vice president of product and solutions marketing for Aruba, said in an interview.

Among younger mobile users, ages 18 to 35, the survey found that 70 per cent preferred Wi-Fi over any other network connection, including 3G and 4G cellular. Overall, 57 per cent preferred Wi-Fi.

The survey also found that users are becoming more tech savvy and want their cars, homes and even their clothes to be network-connected, Kurana said.

The survey's findings imply that companies need to make Wi-Fi more of a "utility like air and water everywhere because that's how people want to connect," Kurana said.

He said the results also imply that IT shops can cut the cord on desk phones and need to create more self-service tools to help workers maintain their devices on their own. That also means that IT shops need to simplify mobile device operations at work, which could require finding alternatives to complex passwords used to authenticate devices when it is hard to type in complex passwords on small virtual keyboards, Kurana said.

IT shops also need to know there are now more opportunities to interact with workers and visitors based on their location. "Most people will give opt-in to give their location if there's value in doing so," Kurana said. "On the other hand, everybody hates having their location known without their permission."

In addition to the U.S., other countries in the survey included the UK, France, Spain, Germany, Sweden, South Africa, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His email address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

See more by Matt Hamblen on Computerworld.com.

Read more about mobile device management in Computerworld's Mobile Device Management Topic Center.

Tags Mobile/Wirelessconsumer electronicsMobile device managementNetworkingsmartphoneswirelessmobile

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