All the recent buzz about mobile in the enterprise is justified, according to new figures from Informa. The market research firm predicts the number of enterprise subscribers will grow steadily over the next several years to account for 11.7 percent of total mobile subscribers — and generating revenues of $92.6 billion — by 2014. Enterprise-related mobile Internet usage will see particularly strong uptake in North America, with such revenues overtaking those from enterprise mobile messaging in 2012 and accounting for 58 percent of overall mobile enterprise revenues by 2014.
To that end, AT&T (s t) is targeting the hospitality and consumer goods industries as it expands its enterprise-grade mobile application platform; Verizon Wireless has launched an ad campaign aimed at small and medium-sized businesses; and T-Mobile USA is pushing into the enterprise with a Wi-Fi calling option. And Apple’s (s aapl) iPhone continues to make inroads to the business segment as users increasingly demand a single device that can support both enterprise and consumer functions. But carriers haven’t done much to position themselves as solutions providers for businesses, Informa noted:
“Despite a good deal of development in the mobile enterprise market, it is the systems integrator and IT specialist that remain the key players in the mobile enterprise sector. The telecoms operator is seen more as a communications pipe than as a solutions facilitator.”
So instead of trying to deliver business solutions, network operators looking to tap the segment should focus on their handset lineups, making sure their phones can support effective, enterprise-focused apps from third-party developers. Security will be a crucial feature as the enterprise segment gets serious legs, and IT staffers will continue to monitor how employees use their devices for business purposes. But as the iPhone has shown, it’s largely the employees themselves who will determine which phone they carry on — and off — the job.