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Thou shalt not live by mobile email alone

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Reg Technology Panel You’re out and about, and you know you’ll need to hook back to the office to pick up that important email or access that corporate system – so what do you want to take, a notebook or a handheld device?

To our surprise, according to over 1,000 of you, compared to mobile access via a handheld device, remote notebook access was twice as likely to be broadly relevant across the workforce. The distinction is less profound in the smallest of companies, but of course this means that it is even greater for larger organisations.

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Why exactly is this?

There are a number of potential reasons. It may be for example, that mobile email is no longer an adequate support for a remotely accessible corporate presence. A couple of years ago, email was very much the dominant application, the rapid rise of the Blackberry being symptomatic of the convergence (or as one of my esteemed ex-colleagues once said, collision) of two factors – demand for email, and availability of an appropriate access device to access it.

Many organisations cut their teeth on mobile email, and maybe they have now moved on to needing access to a wider pool of applications.

What's in your hand?

Alternatively, it could be because the majority of people who need laptops these days have them, lessening the need for handheld connectivity. This more innocuous explanation is more about the availability of technology, than any particular advantages of one solution over another. Perhaps organisations are more likely to fund PC’s for their workforce than handhelds, or equally, perhaps the expectation is increasingly that individuals provide their own technology, which could have an impact on the uptake of both notebooks and handheld devices.

This last point is more than a shot in the dark. Increasingly, we are hearing that companies expect their employees to provide their own devices – not just handhelds but notebook computers as well (and we could cite at least one major corporate that has taken this line). This has an obvious impact on how devices are managed, as well as on aspects such as security and the more general business risk.

So, while the relevance of laptops versus handhelds may be clear, there are still a number of open questions at the moment, such as the relative value of the two form factors, the uptake of different device types, or the strategies for their procurement. What do you think? If you have any feedback on any of the questions here, we’d love to hear from you.®

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