Nearly Half the U.S. Workforce is Using Mobile Devices

According to market researcher Gartner, 45 percent of the American workforce is using mobile technology of some kind, including laptops, PDAs, and new sensor networks. During this week's Gartner conference in Lake Buena Vista, FL, Gartner analysts called it "the biggest revolution in corporate data collection and distribution in a decade." In the CRM space mobile technologies help sales representatives and field service workers stay current with their accounts and customers using laptops, Web-enabled phones, PDAs and other tools, to access the latest information they need to better serve customers. The flip side is that mobile technology coupled with CRM also lets the corporate office receive timely field intelligence collected by mobile professionals for financials, inventory, marketing, and fulfillment. According to direct marketing-solutions vendor Harte-Hanks, 12 percent of North American companies provided corporate users with mobile CRM solutions in 2001. Ken Dulaney, a Gartner vice president, says that the availability of a wide range of mobile technology is highly supportive of new trends, such as the real-time enterprise. He noted that mobility is essential to support real-time enterprise goals, which include being responsive, connected, and collaborative. The evolution of key technologies in phone networks, wireless LANs, personal-area networks, and software infrastructure have helped fuel the mobile revolution, Gartner says. And while many of those underlying technologies are not expected to be stable before 2005, new developments in areas such as screens, fuel cells, and speech recognition software are expected to continue to drive the mobile evolution for the long term, according to Gartner. By 2007 more than 50 percent of enterprises with more than 1,000 employees will make use of at least five wireless networking technologies. This will be made possible as wireless networking becomes ubiquitous, despite different technologies and protocols for both home and office. In 2003 there have been a handful of key mobile technologies, including radio frequency identification tags, 802.11 variants, personal area networks (Bluetooth, etc.), and some proprietary network protocols. During the next five years new networking technologies and protocols will include 802.165.4 (low-power, low-data rate wireless), ultrawideband, and Multiple Input/Multiple Output, which exploits multipath transmission to increase bandwidth. Many of these are likely to first gain traction in specialized areas like game consoles, factory automation, or medical applications, according to Gartner. "All organizations should develop a strategy to support multiple wireless networking technologies," Nick Jones, research vice president for Gartner, said in a prepared statement. "Organizations developing consumer products for mobile networks should look for ways to add value by interacting with other home devices that might become networked, such as televisions, set-top boxes, game consoles and remote-control light switches."
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