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The present and future of the mobile workforce

The increasing use of smartphones to do work is blurring the line between work and home life, a survey says.
The increasing use of smartphones to do work is blurring the line between work and home life, a survey says.
  • Mobile devices shaking up the business and institutional information technology
  • 88% of mobile employees check their smartphones during downtime
  • 37% of workers think mobile devices will usurp the role of a laptop or desktop computer

Editor's Note: Amy Gahran writes about mobile tech for She is a San Francisco Bay Area writer and media consultant whose blog,, explores how people communicate in the online age.

(CNN) -- Mobile devices are shaking up the field of business and institutional information technology in a huge way.

iPass, a major wireless service provider, surveyed mobile-enabled professionals for its annual mobile workforce report. Here are the report's five top mobile workforce trends for 2010:

1. Imbalance between data security, cost, and employee productivity

Over 90% of mobile-enabled workers surveyed had smartphones, but only 60% used them for work. That's because only 35% of these workers had smartphones that were provided by their employer.

"To contain costs, smartphones are often a perk reserved for more seasoned employees. And many companies have strict policies in place that forbid unprovisioned smartphones from being used for business purposes," said the report.

Still, many employees report using their own smartphones for work to improve their productivity and flexibility, although that could pose a security risk as well.

2. Mobile is changing -- and shrinking -- the concept of "off duty"

According to iPass: "88% of mobile employees were checking their smartphones during downtime. Even while on vacation, only 6% of employees surveyed completely disconnected. The majority of mobile employees who connected while on vacation did so for work."

3. The post-PC era has hit the workplace

"A surprising 37% of workers thought [a mobile] device would soon [usurp the workplace role of a laptop or desktop computer], and 27% believed it would be the iPad or another tablet."

4. The workplace digital divide is "vastly overstated"

The median age of a mobile worker, according to iPass, is 46.

"Older generations are just as disruptive as younger individuals to the status quo in the workforce today."

5. Multi-mobile is the norm

"Nearly 97% of mobile employees carried two or more mobile devices, and almost half carried three or more."

Most popular: the laptop, the smartphone, and then the feature phone (a more basic cell phone that does not run apps).

What's ahead? Among the 2011 iPass mobile workforce predictions are that IT departments will evolve from a "command and control" approach to more service and collaboration.

Also, enterprise security will need a makeover. ("The old security model of building a moat around the data center has broken down.").

And for many jobs, the place where you work will matter less and less. ("Work is something people do, not a place that they go.")


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