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Mobile App Growth Challenges IT Managers in 2011: Survey

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Deploy more mobile applications. Check.

Figure out how to manage them. Check.

Those are two key takeaways from a just-released survey of IT managers by Kelton Research, sponsored by Sybase, an SAP (NYSE: SAP) company.

An overwhelming majority of the 250 IT managers polled (90 percent), said they will implement new mobile applications this year, with almost a quarter (21 percent) looking to introduce 20 or more applications into their organization. Almost a third (30 percent) of those surveyed said they expect to be supporting anywhere from 5 to 19 different mobile operating systems or platforms by the end of this year; 58 percent pegged the number at one to four and 8 percent said a whopping 20 or more.

But if that sounds like a potential management and support nightmare, many of those IT managers surveyed don’t seem to be planning for it. Almost half of respondents (46 percent) who said they didn’t have a mobile strategy in place also said they didn’t expect to hire staff to specifically deal with their enterprise mobility strategy. Also, about the same number (45 percent) said they didn’t have a plan or timeline in place.

“The proliferation of new devices, coupled with the vast expansion of mobile applications used by consumers, has paved the road for mobility solutions to enter the enterprise at the worker, workgroup, and workflow levels,” Dan Ortega, senior director product marketing at Sybase, said in a statement.

“Given all this, we expect 2011 to be the year of the transformation of the enterprise.”

Part of that transformation will be the deployment of customized mobile application. More than half (56 percent) of those surveyed said they consider customizing company information for mobile purposes a crucial part of conducting business and not just a “nice to have.”

Mobile security concerns also are on IT manager’s radar for the year ahead. A majority of those responding (65 percent) said potential data security issues with mobile applications cause more problems than implementation or employee adoption concerns. A clear minority (25 percent) said the later two issues were bigger concerns than security. Also, some 75 percent said “security fears” were a factor in preventing their company from adopting mobile applications, while “cost concerns” came in second at 54 percent and “lack of direct of experience” was third at 25 percent.

Overall IT budget concerns trumped mobile with 56 percent stating that staying under their IT budget for the year would be more difficult than troubleshooting or implementing mobile applications, though the remaining 44 percent said mobile was the bigger challenge.

Sybase said the study consisted of online surveys of 250 IT Managers in the U.S. and UK at companies with revenues of $100 million or more.

David Needle is the West Coast bureau chief at, the news service of, the network for technology professionals.

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