Return on investment forms only part of the business case for mobile devices, the analyst said. There are a number of intangible benefits that cannot be accurately calculated, such as improved brand image and competitive advantage, according to Richard Clifford, m-commerce analyst at Datamonitor.
"It is easy to ignore the intangible benefits that IT systems and software can bring," he said. "It has become more popular to focus on the tangibles as a sales lead generator tool in the current economic climate, where financial directors will not countenance IT spend that does not make or save money.
"However, in the case of mobile technology, the intangible benefits are just as important as the tangible ones," he said.
Businesses also need to adapt the way they measure the return on investment from mobile projects, Clifford said. "Emphasis must be placed on the efficiencies that can be made in internal business processes, not on the amount of time that can be saved per day, as time is not effectively captured or accounted for," he said.
According to Clifford, end user perception of mobile business has not really moved on in the past couple of years. "There is still a great deal of misunderstanding and confusion, even about crucial matters such as solution benefits, probable costs and likely delivery channels," he said. "Suppliers have been offering mobile field service solutions for some time but they have not really been publicising them to any great extent."
As a result, Clifford said, mass market uptake of mobile devices remains up to two years away.