Almost half (47 percent) of the U.S. workforce will have access to wireless voice, pagers and/or mobile computing devices, like Palm Pilots, by the end of 2001, according to research from Cahners In-Stat. That’s more than 60 million U.S. employees.
As wireless services and equipment become more robust and functional for business customers, In-Stat expects wireless adoption in the business market to rise steadily, reaching more than 60 percent of the workforce by 2004. But interestingly, the smallest companies (firms with fewer than 100 employees) are expected to account for the largest group of business users “working wireless” now and in the future. Firms with less than 100 employees have a per firm wireless penetration rate of more than 50 percent.
“The affordability and pervasiveness of wireless voice services has paved the way for fairly quick adoption among business customers, even in smaller companies,” said Kneko Burney, director of eBusiness Infrastructure & Services for In-Stat. “What we see now is just the beginning of how U.S. employees will use wireless services and equipment. As handset and mobile devices become more powerful and wireless broadband a reality, business-class services such as wireless-accessible hosted applications and wireless corporate email, should become more commonplace, driving demand in the future.”
The more trusted and versatile wireless services become, they more likely they are to continue to drive business expenditures on wireless services. The research also shows that business customers are most likely making use of wireless phones for the time being, but have strong expectations to increase their use of mobile computing devices in the future.
The continued advancement of both wireless handsets and handheld devices are expected to attract a growing number of business customers, and will also lead to a strong “replacement effect” where users replace their equipment regularly (as often as once a year) to make use of new services. U.S. businesses are expected to spend nearly $37 billion on wireless communications services in 2001. This is expected to reach nearly $74 billion by 2005.
The amount of spending that is projected to go into wireless initiatives is impressive given the economic environment, which has forced companies of all sizes to examine their IT spending. Mobile IT projects, however, especially those involving wireless communication, have seen only modest reductions in their budgets, according to ResearchPortal.com.
Part of the reason mobile projects continue to draw their share of the IT budget dollar is that Web projects and the Y2K bug have moved off the IT agenda. ResearchPortal found that with the Y2K bug gone, and many Web initiatives stabilized or cut, mobile IT projects remain standing. According to ResearchPortal’s data, 4 percent of mobile IT spending at small businesses was affected by budget cutbacks or project realignments in 2001. That same measure stood at 13 percent among enterprises and 10 percent among medium-sized businesses. Both medium-sized and small businesses said they expect to cut mobile IT spending in 2002, medium-sized businesses by 16 percent and small businesses by 10 percent. Enterprises expect to cut or realign 10 percent of mobile IT spending in 2002.