Indian SMEs eager to go mobile

Claudio Castelli/Ovum
22 Feb 2008

SMEs in India lead in the adoption of several mobile applications and have the highest projected growth, according to a recent Ovum survey. Their willingness to pay, however, lags behind their eagerness to adopt. Expected growth in mobile data spending is lower than the expected growth in usage, which makes this market unique in terms of opportunities and challenges for applications suppliers.

The growing need of employees for mobility is the main driver of the increasing mobility adoption by enterprises in India. Mobile employees need to keep in touch with their office, with other colleagues on the field, and with customers and contacts outside the company.

The most important mobile applications are still mobile email and SMS/MMS. Of the SMEs polled, 70% claim they use SMS/MMS while more than 40% say they use mobile email. Another 25% expect to do so in the next two years.

In that same period, salesforce and field-service automation applications have the highest projected growth, with about 30% of SMEs indicating a willingness to adopt. India also has one of the greatest opportunities for tracking and fleet management applications and mobile marketing with more than 25% of companies saying they're keen to introduce these.

Except for SMS and the dispatch/command and control applications, penetration of all other applications is expected to more than double. This may be a consequence of the high service profile of the SMEs in this market.

All of these applications must be available in the devices issued to employees. However, the proportion of employees with high-end mobile devices - like smartphones, PDAs or BlackBerry phones - is currently low among company-provided devices, suggesting strong potential for smartphone suppliers. This finding is consistent with the early stage of the mobility adoption in India, which accounts for the relatively high levels of the voice-centric mobile phone penetration.
It appears that mobility enterprise applications are initially communication-centric, paving the way for more process-centric solutions that involve more complex integration of these applications with business processes. Generally, the larger the enterprise is, the higher the proportion of its employees that have a smart device. In contrast, smaller companies are more likely to issue their employees with voice-centric devices.

In terms of indoor technologies, the biggest opportunity lies in Wi-Fi solutions and its voice applications. In India, 36% of SMEs have Wi-Fi networks and 34% are willing to adopt them. Further, expectations for voice over Wi-Fi are much higher than the global average, with more than 40% of the SMEs keen to adopt.

Cost savings

A considerable number of companies are also planning to install a mobile PBX, showing that SMEs want to provide their internal mobile users more efficient communication features. Also, many companies are planning to use dual-mode phone solutions, suggesting that SMEs wants to cut the number of devices and are concerned with costs of mobile calls. With these solutions, they can use their public mobile phones for indoor communications while reducing costs within the enterprise.

SMEs in India do not see enterprise mobility simply as a migration into the wireless environment but also as part of a broader convergence trend. When asked about their reasons for moving into IP telephony and converged IP services, the majority identified improved mobility as an important factor.

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