RealTime IT News

The Rise of Mobile Communications

With new cell phones freshly unwrapped from the holiday season, many executives still aren't entirely happy with what wireless is doing for them.

A new survey commissioned by Kirkland-based AVT Corporation and conducted by Wirthlin Worldwide reports that 84 percent of Fortune 1000 executives expect the need of their workforces for mobile communications to grow dramatically.

"The need for companies to care for their mobile workforce is on the rise," says Joseph Staples, Executive Vice President of Corporate Marketing and Emerging Technology. "The expectations regarding someone's productivity while on the road have changed dramatically. They must stay connected with their clients and the office, but also maintain immediate access to critical company databases and information to achieve peak performance."

As a result of this need, the survey also predicts the use of wireless devices, such as Web-enabled phones and wireless PDAs will increase by as much as 100 - 200 percent during the next two years.

"The reality is that the PC isn't an option for some people, so what they're choosing between whether to wait to the end of the day to get to their computer or to get critical information over another device," says Staples.

Although the executives placed a high value of importance on providing their mobile employees with wireless access to email, personal calendaring and scheduling, only one in five indicated that they are "very satisfied" with the ability of current technologies to meet these needs. Less than 20 percent are "very satisfied" with the ability of current technologies to provide access to customer and corporate data, or all critical company databases.

Staples is quick to note that the technology is now approaching an acceptable level where mobile wireless data solutions, such as his company's, can address this discrepancy.

"Devices are finally getting to the point where they're useful, they're reliable and the coverage is sufficient enough that people can actually benefit from them."

While many are touting the commercial possibilities of wireless that have begun to explode in Europe and Japan, AVT is sticking strictly to mobile business applications.

"We are clearly targeting at providing critical business content from these devices," says the VP. "We are staying away from the consumer emotional play of 'is this fun?' 'Do I like this?' 'Is this a toy?'"

Staples notes that the only negative aspect of the wireless increase he can see is the lack of excuses to work. "The more tools people get provided, the more it focuses them on the work they should do now," says Staples.

Not too many bosses should mind.

Wirthlin interviewed Fortune 1000 vice presidents, presidents and chief executive officers about employee mobility, wireless communications needs, and the use of and satisfaction with existing wireless devices and applications during the period of September 1 - September 23, 2000. The sampling error for this survey is plus or minus 11 percent.