IDC is broadly inclusive of full and part-time mobile users and segments the population into three topline categories of office-based, nonoffice-based and home-based mobile workers. Travelers, but also "corridor cruisers" using mobile technology in the workplace to conduct business are included in the numbers.
"Consumerization has changed the demographic," says senior IDC Research Analyst Stacy Crook. "Before, companies gave limited access to devices and network access, but personal device users are now accepted under certain parameters of use."
Affluence and popularity are among the drivers of adoption. North America presently has the largest number of mobile workers of any region, with 182.5 million growing to 212.1 million in 2015.
Western European trends follow U.S. adoption for the most part, though privacy laws have dampened corporate access outside North America to an extent. Some cultures are hesitant to mix work and personal lives as well, though Crook says momentum is shifting with the introduction of less expensive devices and broader access.
"The U.S. attitude toward mobility has had a real impact on the spread,” Crook says, but adds growth is slowing due to the slow economic recovery and high unemployment.
Overall, opportunity in the U.S. and Western Europe will remain strong, but Asia/Pac (excluding Japan) will see the largest regional increase in mobile workers, from 601.7 million in 2010 to 838.7 million in 2015.
Large populations and economic will drive growth in countries including India and China, while the mobile workforce in Japan will actually decrease slightly in Japan due to the decline in population there.
Europe, Middle East and Africa will will witness a healthy compound growth rate during the same period, from 186.2 million to 244.6 million in 2015.
IDC's five-year forecast includes 13 subcategories in four regions in two countries and is available at the IDC research site.