A report from Forrester out today highlighting the rise of “mobile wannabes” in the work force is a bit over-the-top in its assertion that up to 25 percent of the 2012 workforce will be folks who don’t need mobile access to company information but will want it. The report cites the example of employees angling for mobiles to complete work on their commutes. I hope these mobile wannabes are taking the train or bus to work, because I don’t want some 25-year-old admin in the highway lane next to me filing a report for her boss.
However, the report correctly identifies Millennials as the catalyst for this trend. Millenials are the under-30 generation that grew up with the web and mobile technology, and as such they expect and want mobile access in order to do their jobs — not because they want to work more, but because they expect to be able to do their jobs while taking care of routine tasks outside of the office. Companies should support them, rather than lock down IT policies.
While I was at DEMO last month, I saw one or two startups attempting to offer secure access to enterprise data from cell phones, including SkyData. Also in the security space are companies such as CoreTrace, which manage applications on a employee desktop by creating a whitelist of approved file types and refuting those that don’t match. That approach would help with younger workers’ habits of downloading random Web applications onto company computers.
As the economy worsens, giving mobile wannabes a mobile lifeline back to the office could also give employers the flexibility to offer lower salaries — after all, surveys consistently show that flexible scheduling is of far more interest to employees than more pay. Investing in products to make workers more productive and keep data secure seems like a win-win.