David Liebovitz talks to CBR about what makes a worker truly mobile.
According to research done in 2006 by Gartner Dataquest, the worldwide mobile worker population is set to grow to 878,2 million by 2009, indicating quite a substantial move away from the mentality that 'you have to be at work to be working'.
Markets, companies and their workforces are becoming more competitive. As a result, workers are required to work in different time zones to their customers and to spend more time out of the office than in years gone by, while being able to respond to customers’ queries immediately. This would not be possible without the help of mobile technology.
Leaf International Communications recently did a study to determine what mobile workers’ needs and requirements are, and it came down to two simple points: the ability to access critical information and the ability to respond immediately to that information.
Work hours are not what they used to be and people’s place of work is not what it once was. These days your office can be everywhere from your home, to the airport or even the back seat of a taxi on the corner of Fox and Rissik streets in the CBD.
In order to accommodate this situation, mobile workers need the right tools to ensure that they are capable of increased flexibility, faster response times and the better use of employees’ spare time.
Do mobile workers really need a desktop replacement?
Yes they do, because of the increasing mobility of today’s workforce and the demands that mobile workers are expected to live up to. It is for this reason that sub-notebooks are becoming an increasingly popular option. The HTC Shift, for example, is a complete desktop replacement that is a third of the size of the average notebook.
If you want to check your e-mail on a laptop, you need to plug in your 3G card, connect to a network and open up your Outlook and send and receive. A sub-notebook like the Shift is always connected to a network with push e-mail functionality, so you are getting your e-mail the minute it is sent. The Shift also has an eight to 12 hour battery life, which means you are not restricted to the battery life that notebooks have, which is rarely more than three hours.
A lot of people go into the office for one reason – to get their e-mail. They can make better use of their time by driving straight to their first appointment, with instant access to all the information they need at high speeds. Added to that if they do not know how to get there, the Shift has built-in GPS to help them navigate there.
Being a true mobile worker means having access to devices that facilitate fieldforce and salesforce automation. A cellphone just does not cut it anymore as you can get so much more functionality out of a device with a rich, robust operating system such as Windows Mobile, which supports Excel, Word, Powerpoint and PDF documents as well as custom or off the shelf applications for sales or service-orientated organisations.
Laptops, PDAs and smartphones of all types will soon converge into a small form factor, ultra-mobile smart device. What will it look like?
It already exists, it is called the HTC Shift and it is at the very forefront of cutting edge sub-laptops. The Shift makes use of a dual-boot system and runs Windows Vista as well as Windows Mobile 6.0.
With the flick of a switch, you can alternate between Vista and Windows Mobile, making it easy to manage the resource requirements for the intended application. It has a 7-inch screen with a built in 40 GB hard drive and is WiFi, 3,6 Mbps 3G HSDPA and Bluetooth enabled; it is capable of high speed connectivity, which means that provided you are somewhere with the wireless infrastructure to support the device, there is nothing else you would need to be in contact with work at any time.
The user drive behind convergence will be to task-specific devices instead of the everything-in-an-ugly-box trend we suffer from today. Is this a realistic assessment?
Yes. Generally the trend in the market is to try and bundle as much functionality into one device as possible. However, having said that, HTC is the only PDA/smartphone manufacturer with a wide product range to suit a number of specific applications. Other manufacturers are trying to put everything into one ugly box, where HTC is giving consumers more choice.
What this means is that if you are looking for a phone with everything bundled into one device, there are HTC phones that fulfil that need.
An example could include the new TyTN II, which will be released to market in October. On the other hand, if you are looking for a more stylish phone that looks sleek, has consumer appeal, but still has full PocketPC functionality, there is the HTC Touch.
Particularly, we are seeing our S710 VOX Smartphone becoming increasingly popular, due to the trend towards the adoption of Smartphones by consumers, the competitive pricing of these devices and the familiarity of the operating platform (ie Windows Mobile).
People are beginning to change their perceptions about smart devices. Previous experience held that Smartphones and PocketPC devices were massive in size, unmanageable and generally user unfriendly.
But as these devices have evolved, this is definitely not the case, which is particularly true for HTC’s product line. HTC phones are built from quality materials, and are designed to work efficiently and effectively, while building on a brand, which appeals to consumers and business people alike.