Supercharging collaboration for the mobile workforce

Adam Holtby | Principal Analyst

The world of work has experienced many social and economic disruptions over the past few years. These disruptions have been further compounded by numerous business technology changes including the rise of artificial intelligence (AI), the transition to digital-first communication and collaboration, and the enabling of hybrid working at great speed and scale. Mobile is at the core of these changes, and the need to enable more mobile-centric work has become an important mandate for businesses across all industries.

Embracing a mobile-centric approach to work requires businesses to address not just technological aspects and practices that guide how work gets done. Business leaders must remember that it is not just the locations people work from that have changed; the fundamental nature of work has also been subject to disruption. As more employees engage in work away from the traditional office, businesses must establish a technology and support infrastructure that enables, secures, and empowers every worker, regardless of their location. With the growing importance of digital and mobile-first channels for collaboration and engagement, businesses must swiftly adapt to meet evolving employee expectations. Failure to do so can result in tangible operational, regulatory, and financial ramifications.

This mobile transformation journey is not one that businesses should walk alone. Recruiting the support of experienced digital partners will be instrumental to success. These partners must deliver the technical capabilities and expertise that businesses need to be successful. Solutions spanning mobile connectivity, mobility management, security, productivity, and collaboration will all be important instruments of success.

Given the complexity of business mobile-centric initiatives, organizations should also look for partners that can help them navigate the tactical challenges they may face. Technical support programs, consistent engagement, and professional services will be pivotal elements of these partnerships.

Introducing the 2023 Business Mobile Collaboration Survey

The data and insights discussed in this report are derived from the 2023 Business Mobile Collaboration survey, a collaborative study between Omdia and Verizon. In addition to being a fundamental element of modern work, mobility has evolved to become a vital enabler of business communication and collaboration. With its growing significance in modern business and digital experiences, there is a heightened demand to empower and enable a more mobile workforce. The 2023 Business Mobile Collaboration survey explored the role of mobility in modern organizations. The survey was structured to unearth the important communication, collaboration, and productivity trends driving business mobile initiatives in organizations of various sizes and across numerous industries.

As part of the survey process, we engaged with US based

  • Businesses across eight industries, including financial services, manufacturing, healthcare, and retail organizations
  • Small, medium, and large organizations
  • Business and IT leaders in roles including chief operating officer, IT manager, head of employee experience, and chief financial officer
  • Respondents with a significant level of authority relating to the adoption or utilization of technology and digital services that support mobile communication and collaboration

Key findings

Mobility’s crucial role in modern work

Mobile is powering a digital democratization across the entire workforce

Digital capabilities are becoming increasingly important in empowering employees across the entire business, from back-office knowledge workers through frontline workers who are often closest to those consuming the products or services delivered by the business. Though information workers are often those most strongly associated with conversations around digital transformation, the reality is that true success comes from enabling as many workers as possible with transformative digital technologies, including mobile capabilities.

Mobile devices and apps have the potential to transform work for every employee, so a focus on the entire workforce is vital when a business embarks on a mobile initiative. This is especially important when we consider the significant number of employees that occupy frontline worker roles. As Figure 1 shows, more than half the population of the total workforce are frontline workers. 

The proportion of frontline workers relative to information workers is even more pronounced in industries such as healthcare (63%), manufacturing (60%), and retail (63%). Because frontline workers make up such a large segment of the overall workforce, businesses have an opportunity to enhance operational efficiencies and transform frontline work by providing these workers with new digital capabilities. Mobile devices and apps are of particular importance to frontline workers because many of these employees operate away from a traditional desk and perform their duties across diverse locations. Ensuring that frontline workers have access to mobile capabilities that foster collaboration and enhance productivity becomes paramount. Mobile should not be a digital business capability limited to a select few or corporate VIPs; rather it should be democratized and made accessible to all employees, enabling widespread benefits across the organization. 

Figure 1
Frontline workers make up 55% of the total workforce

Source: 2023 Business Mobile Collaboration survey

Frontline workers

Employees who are often the closest link between a business and those consuming its products and services. Includes retail, construction, healthcare sales representatives, manufacturing operators, etc.

Information workers

Employees who often work in centralized back-office roles and do not have direct engagement with customers or those consuming services the business produces (IT, marketing, HR, finance/accounting, etc)


Figure 2
The primary device that employees use to communicate and collaborate

Source: 2023 Business Mobile Collaboration survey

Figure 2. The primary device that employees use to communicate and collaborate

Mobile momentum is driving employee productivity

According to the survey, 60% of the workforce currently use a mobile device for work purposes. This number is consistent across businesses in different industries and of all sizes. With such a substantial number of employees reliant on mobile devices, it is imperative for businesses to ensure that connectivity is seamless and that collaboration and productivity across these devices is optimal.

A critical factor in achieving this goal is ensuring mobility is not an afterthought when it comes to businesses’ application and workflow design. Mobile use cases must be at the core of the collaboration and productivity experiences that businesses are delivering to employees. Improving system access and usability across mobile is a crucial step in providing the best possible employee experiences.

Our research also shows that employees across frontline and back-office operations are reliant on a diverse set of mobile devices and capabilities to get work done. This data shows that frontline and information workers have different preferences relating to the primary devices they would like to use for work purposes.

60% of the workforce currently use a mobile device for work purposes

  • Description: This category includes fixed landline desk/desktop phone or DECT (Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications) phones.
  • Current state: It is predominantly frontline workers who use this type of device. Traction with information workers is low as more move away from fixed-desk communications and toward more mobile- centric collaboration.
  • Future stateFuture state: Omdia believes that a greater proportion of frontline workers will increasingly move away from DECT devices and toward smartphones that are enabled with productivity and collaboration apps.
  • Description: This category includes smartphones that are integrated with a collaboration app such as Microsoft Teams, RingCentral, or Zoom.
  • Current state: A strong proportion of information workers prefer to collaborate via a smartphone that is richly integrated with a collaboration app. Many of these employees will have moved from fixed-line desk phones.
  • Future state: The integration between native mobile and collaboration apps such as Microsoft Teams will continue to strengthen. Unlike the traditional use case where employees use a collaboration app and mobile communication capabilities separately with no rich integration, these elements will begin to richly converge. Initially, integration between collaboration apps and a native mobile dialer will be the focus, but text messaging (SMS/RCS) integration with business chat will be another advancement. Omdia believes this adoption will further increase across both frontline and information workers.
  • Description: This category includes smartphones with no integration with a collaboration app.
  • Current state: A good proportion of frontline workers currently rely on this mode of communication, which highlights the potential to further accelerate how these employees work and collaborate across mobile with a more integrated phone and collaboration app offering. As figure 2 shows, the 21% of information workers with a smartphone only, would also get a lot more value by working with an integrated mobile and collaboration app option.
  • Future state: The future of smartphone utilization for both frontline and information workers should be via mobile devices that are richly integrated with a collaboration platform.
  • Description: This category includes an over-the-top collaboration app only (Teams, Zoom, RingCentral, etc.) on a PC, laptop, or tablet device. 
  • Current state: This was the collaboration approach many information workers embraced during the pandemic as work moved away from the office, hence its strong traction here with those employees.
  • Future state: This method of collaboration will remain popular, but it will become more richly integrated with mobile capabilities and use cases. The convergence of the convenient over-the-top app collaboration capabilities many have become accustomed to with mobile represents a big opportunity for businesses to further accelerate corporate communications and employee experiences. It represents an approach where employees, based on their preference or work circumstance, can seamlessly communicate across a range of different devices or networks or via native mobile or a desktop application.

Improving digital experiences is at the core of the mobile collaboration opportunity

The change in work styles and locations embraced by many employees over recent years has also brought about a more mobile and digital-first nature to the way people communicate and collaborate at work. As the data in Figure 3 shows, business leaders feel that making collaboration more seamless and compatible with hybrid work styles will deliver important benefits.

It is evident that business and IT leaders see frontline and information workers benefiting differently from mobile collaboration capabilities. For frontline workers, improving task efficiency—which drives increased productivity—and customer service are the most important benefits identified. These benefits are aligned closely to the profile of frontline workers, specifically how these employees often work closely with customers in roles that often have clearly defined and often repeatable tasks. For information workers, the mobile collaboration benefits that leaders are looking to realize include improving access to business information and resources and advancing communication between internal employees.

Again, these aspirations are closely aligned to the characteristics of information workers, who rely heavily on business information and resources and often work in centralized and sometimes siloed business functionssuch as IT, HR, finance, and marketing. It is important that businesses acknowledge there is no dominant universal benefit of improving collaboration; different employees will benefit in different ways. 

Communicating, and improving business understanding of, the diverse set of benefits associated with a mobile collaboration initiative is important to gain corporate buy-in and support but also to enhance adoption and utilization of the technologies that will ultimately support any initiative.

FIgure 3
Top mobile collaboration business benefits

What do you feel will be the most important benefit of improving mobile collaboration within your organization?

  Priority benefit Secondary benefit
Frontline worker
Increase efficiency of task completion Improve customer service and communications
Information worker
Improve communication between employees Improve access to business information

Note: n=300

Digital and collaboration strategies are becoming more mobile centric

Businesses have a diverse set of strategic mobile collaboration priorities

Strategically, business leaders are looking for investment in collaboration tools to help improve operational efficiencies and employee productivity and to strengthen the relationships they have with customers (See Figure 4). 

Reducing costs was another important identified priority. Businesses often have investments in a diverse estate of different communication and collaboration capabilities that extend across fixed, mobile, and digital apps. Consolidation and rationalization here can help organizations reduce costs associated with communication and collaboration capabilities.

Figure 4
Business communication and collaboration strategic priorities

What are the top strategic outcomes your organization is trying to accomplish through its communication and collaboration tools and services?


Improve operational efficiency


Improve customer interactions and relationships


Improve employee productivity

Improving collaboration across mobile has become a business priority

Omdia advises businesses to place mobile at the core of a communication and collaboration strategy going forward. Business use of mobile devices and collaboration capabilities via these devices is more secure than ever, and these technologies are also more readily accessible to different types of workers. This sentiment is shared by businesses, with the majority identifying that improving access to digital collaboration capabilities via mobile devices will be a priority over the next 18 months.

In addition to improving collaboration, businesses are also prioritizing improvement of employee productivity across mobile. This underscores businesses’ belief in the way mobile devices and apps are becoming key enablers of positive digital experiences. Generative AI is also poised to play an important role in this context, specifically in the way the technology will help improve how employees interact with productivity applications, including word processors and spreadsheet tools, many of which were not natively designed with mobile in mind (See Figure 5).

Figure 5: Business mobile priorities
What are your organization's top mobile priorities in the next 18 months?

  Priority benefit Secondary benefit
Frontline worker
Improve access to digital collaboration capabilities via mobile devices Improve access to productivity tools such as spreadsheets, word processors, etc.
Information worker
Improve access to digital collaboration capabilities via mobile devices Provide new mobile devices to employees

Note: n=300

Security, connectivity, and productivity are crucial workplace mobility challenges businesses must overcome

Advancing workplace mobility delivers productivity and employee experience benefits, but it also presents businesses with new challenges, notably around security. Our survey shows that, in addition to BYOD security, businesses also see connectivity as a significant challenge that will be important to overcome over the next 18 months.Improving understanding of employee productivity and ensuring effective communications across mobile are other notable challenges (See Figure 6).

The focus on securing BYOD activity highlights the importance of businesses having a bimodal approach where both corporate and personally owned mobile devices can be effectively managed and secured. There is certainly a resurgence happening around BYOD. According to business leaders, BYOD is now the most popular provisioning and management model for smartphones, with just under half of organizations (44%) saying it will be the preferred approach going forward. This surpasses the 32% of businesses that would prefer a corporate-liable approach to smartphone provisioning and security.

Despite the resurgence of BYOD activity, it is evident that organizations still have concerns over how to secure it. Help here, in the form of both new technologies and security expertise, will be important.

Figure 6
Top four mobile work challenges

What will be the most challenging aspect of mobile working for your organization over the next 18 months? (top four responses only)

Mobile phone

Securing an employee BYOD program

Laptop with Wifi

Ensuring employees have the mobile connectivity they need to work effectively


Ensuring employees can effectively communicate and collaborate across mobile

gear icon

Understanding how productive employees are

Demand for mobile collaboration services is increasing

Workstyle adaptations and a change in employee preferences to work in a more mobile fashion are also set to increase demand for mobile collaboration services. Just under half (43%) of business and IT leaders said they expect demand to increase over the next 18 months, and just 7% believe demand will decrease (See Figure 7). 

The increased investment many businesses have planned is indicative of the importance leaders are attaching to mobile capabilities and services in enhancing overall employee collaboration. Optimizing experiences across mobile has become of paramount concern for organizations. In addition to making collaboration more seamless and intuitive across mobile, businesses must also focus on optimizing processes and applications to align with mobile use cases. This is especially important for employee support processes, because being able to access and engage with technical and other support workflows is crucial.

Additionally, and as more work takes place across mobile, it is important that mobility management and security tools become an important part of the new digital infrastructure being created by businesses. Having a unified way to manage and secure mobile devices and apps alongside a more traditional PC estate is one way in which infrastructures are evolving to become more mobile centric. Ensuring employees have seamless connectivity across different locations and devices is another important consideration. Businesses are recognizing the significance of establishing a cohesive mobile strategy that not only enhances collaboration but also optimizes processes, fosters security, and promotes seamless connectivity across the entire organization.

Figure 7
Demand for mobile collaboration services is increasing for many businesses

How do you feel demand for mobile collaboration services will change in your business over the next 18 months?

Note: n=300

Adoption of mobile collaboration services

50% expect demand to stay the same

Up arrow


Down arrow


Businesses must seize the mobile collaboration opportunities or suffer the consequences

We also asked business and IT leaders what they felt the two top areas of impact would be should their organization decide not to invest in mobile collaboration capabilities. Respondents said that business operations and employee collaboration would suffer the most negative consequences. Just over half (51%) of respondents felt that business processes and working practices would be damaged, with 45% of respondents highlighting employee collaboration as an area of potential concern.

The implications of overlooking and failing to act on the mobile collaboration opportunity extend beyond just strategic considerations; there are also financial and regulatory repercussions should businesses get things wrong. Almost two-thirds (63%) of respondents cautioned that their business would face financial or regulatory penalties if sensitive business information and communications were unsecured, via personal messaging applications, for example.

In an era when employees can communicate via a diverse range of devices and apps, it is important thatbusinesses cater to employee collaboration preferences. Striking a balance between having robust security measures and delivering great employee experiences can be challenging, but it is crucial. If employees feel the collaboration experience delivered by their employer is suboptimal, they may resort to personal options that lack appropriate business governance and security. This poses a considerable challenge for organizations that need stringent oversight and governance controls over business communications for auditing purposes. This issue is particularly critical for businesses in heavily regulated industries, where failure to adequately govern employee communications has resulted in significant financial penalties being imposed.

Figure 8
Top three areas damaged by a lack of investment in mobile collaboration

Which of the following would be most affected if your organization chose not to invest in mobile collaboration capabilities?

Note: n=300


Business processes & working practices


Employee collaboration


Customer interactions

Figure 9
Getting mobile collaboration wrong can have financial consequences

Would your company face financial and/or regulatory penalties if sensitive business information and communications were shared on a mobile device in an unsecured way?

Note: n=300



Core capabilities for business mobile success

Businesses are ready to invest in revolutionizing mobile collaboration

The increased demand expected by businesses for mobile collaboration services over the next 18 months is also affecting strategic mobility investment plans. Our research shows that just 9% of businesses will look to decrease overall investment in workplace mobility, and 50% are looking to invest in new mobile collaboration capabilities. This is an encouraging finding, especially given the challenging global economic climate.

Native mobility and AI capabilities are investment priorities

Business mobile ecosystems comprise myriad technologies that collectively empower organizations to effectively manage, secure, and facilitate mobile work. As a more mobilecentric approach to work becomes more prevalent, businesses are focusing on investing in mobile capabilities that strengthen the overall digital infrastructure.

Our research indicates that businesses are planning to invest in a combination of different mobile collaboration capabilities over the next two years. Capabilities including AI-based support agents on mobile, native mobile dialer and collaboration app integration, rich text communication services, and secure communications on BYOD are all investment priorities for businesses.

Figure 10
Workplace mobility investment plans

Will external economic factors and/or internal financial factors influence your investments in workplace mobility?

Note: n=300


Plan new investment


Investment will stay the same



Converging collaboration across mobile and in-app experiences

The growing business interest in enhancing how mobile calling and messaging are more richly converged into collaboration apps is  representative of a broader trend that is gathering momentum. Use of collaboration apps across PCs has accelerated at great speed and scale over recent years. Platforms such as Microsoft Teams, RingCentral, Zoom, and Webex have become important tools for employees that not only help them communicate better but also enhance how they interact with  important work resources. However, integration between these in-app collaboration capabilities and native mobile features could be improved, specifically around calling and messaging. A lack of convergence here can damage employee experiences and expose businesses to security risks. Improving integration between these over the-top collaboration apps and native mobile calling and messaging capabilities will help make  communication more seamless and accessible. Key benefits of this more converged communication and collaboration approach include:

  • Seamless uplift of voice calls between a mobile phone’s native dialer and collaboration app 
  • Improved call quality across cellular mobile networks
  • Unified call recording for compliance purposes
  • Presence fidelity across app and native mobile 
  • Unified voice mail and messaging
  • Single device and number for all business communications, helping to reduce carbon footprint
  • Integration of business workflows and processes into native mobile (calling and messaging)
  • Secure collaboration capabilities for employees across both personal and corporate provided smartphones

Figure 11
Top four mobile collaboration investment priorities


Enable mobile AI-based customer/employee support agents


Seamless call transfer between native mobile dialer and collaboration apps


Rich text communication services (RCS, iMessage)


Enable corporate communications on personal employee devices (BYOD)

Figure 12
How businesses gauge the impact of mobile on business collaboration

What is the primary metric/indicator you will use to track how mobile is affecting overall business collaboration? Showing top four of eight total response options

Note: n=300

Improved communication and collaboration between employees, customers, and partners


Employee productivity improvements


We do not track this


Reduction in operational costs


Organizations are failing to measure mobile collaboration progress effectively

Though it is crucial to have strategic aspirations and the necessary technology in place, it is equally important for businesses to establish appropriate measures of success to assess the effectiveness of their mobile collaboration initiatives. Surprisingly, 17% of businesses are not currently tracking the impact of mobile on overall business collaboration. Across the manufacturing and retail industries, the proportion failing to track progress is even greater: around a quarter of businesses currently have no measures in place. Among those organizations that do have some form of measure or indicator in place, employee productivity improvements and better communication between employees, customers, and partners are the most common indicators relied on.

In order to comprehensively assess the progress of any mobile collaboration initiative, businesses will need to rely on a combination of quantitative and sentimentbased indicators. Employee experience and satisfaction, collaboration solution adoption and utilization, and collaboration across mobile are examples of indicators businesses are using to gauge success and potential improvement opportunities.

Figure 13
Workplace mobility partner preferences

Which type of partner/supplier do you feel is best suited to support your workplace mobility goals?

Note: n=300


Mobile operator 

(e.g., AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon)


Technology vendor 

(e.g., Microsoft, Google, VMware)


Managed service provider

(e.g., Presidio, Avanade)



(e.g., CDW, TD Synnex, etc.)

Experienced business mobile partners will be vital to success

In addition to the opportunities, business mobile initiatives also present many new challenges. Adopting the support and expertise of experienced digital partners will be important to success. It is mobile operators that most businesses feel are best suited to supporting their workplace mobility goals.

Mobile operators occupy a unique position in delivering the diverse range of mobile capabilities businesses need to become truly mobile centric. These capabilities span cellular connectivity options, mobility management, and security solutions; mobile productivity; and collaboration. The strong pull businesses have to mobile operators is also largely in part attributable to the priority attached to mobile network coverage. 

This is evidenced when we analyze the capabilities and criteria organizations prioritize when selecting a business mobility partner. Here, it is pricing, network coverage and quality that businesses view as the most  important mobile partner capabilities.

A partner’s security and privacy competencies and capabilities, in addition to the strength of features and functionality of any solution, are other important criteria. It will be important for mobile operators to further strengthen business awareness around the mobile capabilities they deliver beyond just connectivity. In addition to mobile and security solutions, supporting businesses in converging collaboration capabilities around mobile will be important for mobile operators.

Figure 14
Top four criteria businesses prioritize in a business mobility partner

What are your top two criteria for selecting a business mobility partner/provider?

Note: n=300


dollar icon

Network coverage & quality


Security and privacy


Features and functionality

Laptop controls


Mobile is crucial to empowering the modern workforce

Work-style evolutions and changing employee demands have put mobile at the top of the digital agenda. Many employees now rely on mobile technologies, but business workflows and processes must evolve around mobile use cases. Businesses must become more mobile centric in delivering better employee experiences and improving operations. A cohesive strategy and putting mobile at the core of the new digital-first infrastructures businesses are building are vital.

Businesses that do not pay the necessary attention to mobility will face financial and regulatory consequences

If the mobile solutions and programs offered by a business are suboptimal, employees will gravitate to personal and less secure options. The implications for organizations can be costly, especially when sensitive business communications are shared via unsanctioned communication channels. Businesses need to work with the appropriate solutions and leverage the expertise of partners that can help them navigate these risks.

Improving integration across business mobile capabilities will be vital to improving collaboration and productivity

Employees are increasingly collaborating across a range of different communication options, including mobile devices, collaboration apps, and tethered phones. Improving integration across these different channels, especially native mobile and in-app capabilities, is important in improving employee experiences and strengthening a security posture.



Omdia, on behalf of Verizon, developed, programmed, and fielded a custom online survey to explore the role of mobility in modern businesses, highlighting the important communication, collaboration, and productivity trends that are driving workplace mobility.

  • The total number of survey respondents was 300.
  • Screening criteria and weightings were put in place to ensure that we received the most valuable answers. These screening criteria were weighted or had a disqualification option as follows:
    • Geography: US
    • Primary decision maker, part of a decision-making team, or a direct influencer of decisions as they relate to technology in support of mobile communication and collaboration technologies and/or services.
    • Role: head of enterprise mobility, head of employee experience, CIO/CTO, finance / chief financial officer (CFO), IT director, or chief digital officer.
    • Verticals: financial services, healthcare,retail, consumer packaged goods (CPG), manufacturing, transportation/distribution, construction, government, and education.
  • Omdia deployed a “double blind” survey approach: the respondent did not know who was sponsoring the study, and Omdia did not receive any personally identifiable information about the respondent.

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