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How can a company determine the mobile resources its employees need? Now that the massive wave of mobility has washed over virtually every company, a new report from the Altimeter Group looks at how to support mobile workers so they can do their best work.

The report, entitled Power to the People: Identify and Empower Your Mobile Workforce, begins with the question of whether mobile employees are getting the proper applications for them to work at their most productive levels. “Supporting mobile users,” the report noted, “is no longer” just about email.

Three Types of Persona

To address that question, three types of persona were created. In order of the importance of mobility, they are a Field/Sales Worker, an Executive/Technical Worker and an Information Worker.

The Field/Sales Worker is the legendary road warrior, and needs to interact with files and other workers as if they were in the office on a desktop PC. The report noted that this worker’s device of choice is, increasingly, a tablet or smartphone. Unsurprisingly, the report noted that the need for mobile is most critical for this group.

The Executive/Technical Worker, in the report’s definition, is actually two sub-personas. In many organizations, executives were the first to require mobile devices -- often tablets -- as they moved from meeting to meeting. Technical workers, such as those in IT, need computing and communications as they work with company employees to fix problems. In both cases, the report found, the need is for a mobile device to act as if it were the worker’s only PC, and, in both cases, that device is increasingly a tablet.

The Information Worker was defined as the most common worker type, and this person could be in finance, HR, engineering or marketing. This type of worker wants access to information, whether in the office or outside.

Three Categories of Mobile Apps

The report then broadly grouped the apps that enterprises are using into three categories. There are apps to consume static information, apps to foster collaboration and exchange information and apps that enable users to take their desktops with them.

Information Workers were found to be most likely to benefit from apps for consuming information, and Field/Sales Workers tended toward collaborative apps. Executive/Technical Workers want their desktops with them as they move around.

The report recommends that companies conduct a “mobility audit” to assess the specific roles in an organization, their needs to be mobile, and their needs for apps. This will help in determining which vendor partners a company should select, Altimeter said. A single solution will not work for the different types of workers, the report noted, and choosing solutions is complicated by the fact that the mobile industry is still in a nascent, in-flux phase of many vendors, solutions and changes. The best course, according to Altimeter, is to assess roles and needs, which will help point to the appropriate solutions.

The report used qualitative and quantitative analyses, based on an online survey, interviews, briefings and research. The online survey’s respondents were 74 mobile program managers from a diverse set of companies. There were also 9 research interviews with corporate mobile strategy and IT personnel, and 18 briefings with mobile solution providers.

The San Mateo, Calif.-based Altimeter Group is a research-based advisory firm that focuses on providing strategies to help companies address disruptive technologies.