Mobility is a top-five priority for 42% of CIOs, and will generate significant sources of new revenue, according to 79% of CIOs in a survey by Accenture.To

achieve that goal, most CIOs will invest 31% to 40% of discretionary budgets, compared with 19% last year. Anecdotal data from the CIO interviews suggests many approach new IT projects with a “mobile first” thinking, Accenture said.

Overall, 43% said improving field and customer service with instant data access, capture and processing; 36 percent said engaging customers via mobile devices; conducting transactions on mobile devices, 34% and 29% said they plan to design, develop and/or distribute connected devices to support B2B applications.

“It’s encouraging that companies are embracing the importance of mobility but they need to go further by identifying the top areas for mobile deployment,” said Jin Lee, senior managing director, Accenture Mobility. “In particular they should look at areas that will grow, such as connected devices, and conduct a ‘gap analysis’ to determine how to catch up, or even better, get ahead of the curve. Other critical considerations include investments, budget allocation, re-training staff, hiring mobile expertise, and leveraging external experts to help develop or implement mobility strategies.”

Mobility would significantly improve customer interactions, 84% of those surveyed said, and 83% said the technology would significantly affect their business.

Forty-six percent said they plan to change workflows to better incorporate mobility into the business, and 73% said mobility will affect their business as much or more than “the web revolution of the late 90s,” Accenture said. Last year, 67% of respondents felt that way in a similar survey Accenture conducted.

Half said they would identify prioritized mobility initiatives over the next year, an increase from 41% last year, and 85% said their mobile strategies must support smartphones; 78% said tablets. Mobile device management (27%), collaboration (25%) and knowledge sharing (23%) were the three most important features of a mobile strategy, Accenture said.

The uptake of mobile technology is accelerating to the extent that companies are taking action before they have well-defined strategies, Accenture said, as 58% claimed a “moderately developed formal mobile strategy;” and 23% claimed “an extensively-developed formal mobile strategy, a decline from 31 percent last year.

Other highlights:

  • 59% provide only limited support to their employees; 28% offer full support
  • 52% said they would retrain existing staff to enable their mobile strategies
  • 37% will hire full-time mobile expertise into their organization, indicating a high demand in the market for mobility talent.
  • 76% of projects are being staffed internally, compared with 63% in 2012
  • 49% of respondents’ mobile applications relied on both native and web apps
  • 45% said security is still a significant concern
  • 41% said budget is still a concern
  • 31% said a lack of interoperability with legacy systems is still the main barrier affecting mobile priorities.

“CIOs must find ways to support the myriad of mobile devices entering the work environment,” Lee said. “They should also address the need to focus intensely on people and expertise. Almost twice as many companies—40% in 2013, versus 27% in 2012—plan to leverage external experts to develop and refine their strategy, indicating that mobile usage is growing faster than the market can provide in terms of skilled and available talent.”