The number of mobile workers accessing enterprise systems worldwide will top the 1 billion mark this year on the way to 1.2 billion by 2013, or more than a third of the world’s workforce, according to a new forecast from research firm IDC.
Although the most significant gains will be in the emerging economies of Asia-Pacific, and growth in the U.S. and Japan has nearly peaked, the U.S. will remain the most highly mobile workforce in the world, IDC says, with the proportion of mobile workers in its workforce predicted to surpass 75 percent, or 119.7 million people, in 2013. The ongoing economic recovery and new interest in unified communications will drive growth in mobility spending overseas, where mobile workforce penetration is not as saturated.
"As mobility continues to play a key role in enabling companies to achieve greater productivity worldwide, IDC expects the global mobile worker population to increase from 919.4 million in 2008 to more than 1.19 billion in 2013, representing nearly 35 percent of the worldwide workforce," said Sean Ryan, research analyst for IDC's mobile enterprise group, in a statement.
The new IDC study provides analysis across three core worker categories: office-based mobile workers, non-office-based mobile workers, and home-based mobile workers. It also analyzes 13 subcategories in five regions: the U.S., Western Europe, Japan, the rest of Asia/Pacific, and the rest of the world.
"While some barriers to adoption will still have to be overcome,” Ryan added. “Underserved mobile workers across all regions stand to benefit from the reach and flexibility offered by mobile [technology]. The potential market for mobility … is enormous."
Among the key findings of the IDC report:
The U.S. will remain the most highly concentrated market for mobile workers with 75.5 percent of the workforce, or 119.7 million workers in 2013, up from 72.2 percent in 2008.
Japan's mobile workers will total 49.3 million in 2013, 74.5 percent of its total workforce, or about the sustainable limit of its mobile worker penetration, according to IDC.
Asia-Pacific (excluding Japan) represents the largest total number of mobile workers throughout the forecast, with 546.4 million in 2008 growing to 734.5 million mobile workers in 2013, representing only 37.4 percent of the region’s total workforce. Yet those nearly 735 million will account for 62 percent of the world's mobile workforce.
Western Europe's mobile workforce will grow at a compound annual rate of 6 percent over the five-year period to reach 129.5 million, or 50.3 percent of its workforce, in 2013, surpassing the total number of mobile workers in the U.S.
Canada and the emerging-market countries in Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America will see total mobile worker population grow to 153.2 million by 2013, only 13.5 percent of the total workforce in those countries.
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