The long leash

As workforces become mobile, companies are looking to the latest advances in mobile technology to enhance productivity. Imthishan Giado investigates how the mobile revolution is transforming the workplace.

  • E-Mail
By  Imthishan Giado Published  June 21, 2008

As workforces become mobile, companies are looking to the latest advances in mobile technology to enhance productivity. Imthishan Giado investigates how the mobile revolution is transforming the workplace.

"Two years ago when we used to travel, when the plane landed people would hardly take out their mobile phones. Nowadays, even on short trips as soon as we land, everyone is out with their phones, typing away and looking at e-mails.

It's a big change that's been very visible," says Joe Devassy, Nokia's regional manager for business mobility markets.

It is indeed a big change - and part of a trend that's sweeping the region. Increasingly, travel time is becoming work time, as enterprises now expect staff to be productive while on the move.

To this end, many organisations have started outfitting employees with mobile devices ranging from laptops and PDAs to high-end smartphones which can work with applications like ERP and CRM.

These devices are more than just executive toys - they are becoming vital parts of the corporate toolkit, allowing IT departments to extract every last drop of productivity from employees.

Travelling sales executives and upper management can still send and receive e-mails in the back of a taxicab to and from the airport, while staff lower down the totem pole can capture field data and immediately transmit it back to the head office.

Devassy admits that part of the problem of having so many possibilities with these devices is that it has transformed the definition of a mobile workforce.

"IDC had recently done a study of what it means to be a mobile employee, which is not somebody who only travels - it's also people who make sales calls within the city, staff in retail outlets of a company without access to a desk PC.

Even otherwise, if you are someone who's chained to their desk, really you're not there all the time - you're sometimes having lunch or coffee. Things like VOIP connectivity to your desk extension play a role even for those types of employees," he says.

While more than a few employees would be irked if their office e-mails followed them everywhere like a lost lamb, Manuel Rozario thinks differently.

As regional director of IT for the Jumeirah Group, he's deployed a vast array of mobile equipment from BlackBerries to tablet PCs and says that giving employees mobile equipment is actually an opportunity for them to break out of the drudgery of the office routine, and should not be limited to top-level management.

"Our general manager once said that he doesn't want people sitting inside locked in an office. People want to be out of the office because it makes them very flexible - they can sit down at home and do their work. Since it's based on the work people do, it could be anyone.

For example, if you have a co-ordinator who works in banquets and moves across offices he can have a BlackBerry.

So it's not limited to managers but definitely more on usage - if you really want it, you get it," he states.

It's also becoming apparent that some of the features bleeding into enterprise devices from the consumer arena, such as built-in webcams for laptops or cameras in mobile phones, are no longer seen as frivolities but as actual means of enhancing employee productivity.

Vishnu Vardhan, executive director for HTC MENA, explains: "For example, a courier or census company would like to capture data and use mobile handsets because they can't carry laptops to locations.

Add a Comment

Your display name This field is mandatory

Your e-mail address This field is mandatory (Your e-mail address won't be published)

Security code