Mobile Computing

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Mobile Computing will it save business?

Mobile Computing the Future of BusinessSages from ancient civilisations allegedly used to throw chicken entrails at walls to forecast future events. How effective this messy method of divination was I have no idea but if they didn’t get a decent insight into the future at least they could feed themselves afterwards with a succulent casserole! I have no need to resort to hurling giblets around to make this very simple forecast – the future of business computing is away from corporate HQ and embracing mobile computing.

One of the reasons I am fairly certain this is going to happen is that there is a groundswell of discussion among CIOs – chief information officers – about allowing users to access the corporate crown jewels using mobile computing on devices such as smartphones and tablet computers.  [pquote_right]Now I don’t know about you but my experience of enterprise level IT departments is that they can be the tail wagging the dog and spend more time telling you why you cannot do something than applying some gentle brainpower in trying to make it happen.[/pquote_right]

The very fact that senior IT staff are now looking at ways of enabling mobile computing and empowering the workforce is a sure sign that it is going to happen and the reasons are not so much technical as economic, political and environmental.

Helping Business Economic Challenges

In case you haven’t noticed the global economy is a tad screwed. Large organisations are having to look at reducing costs as, as ever, one of the most prominent cost cutting exercises involve people and premises.  One of the ways that companies can benefit is to reduce regional offices and get staff to work from home by leveraging mobile computing. I have been plugging “teleworking” since the mid 1990s when I worked on a four-year project for the European Commission and it’s disappointing that the advantages have not been fully recognised and implemented.

Connecting From Everywhere

Broadband speeds are getting faster, Wi-Fi hotspots are becoming more commonplace and enhanced communications mean that data can be transferred quickly and mobile video calls and video conferencing is all perfectly “do-able.”  There is little reason to keep people working in one office. Mobile Computing now makes it perfectly feasible and studies have turned over the old management fear that rather than working from home employees would be playing golf. It seems most home workers put in more hours and are more effective because of the lack of interruptions from other workers.

Politically terrorism is now a day-to-day reality and if I was a risk management officer within an organisation I’d be working on a business continuity programme to ensure that key personnel could work away from HQ and get at their organisation’s servers through RSA security token access or similar.

It doesn’t have to be your corporate HQ that is attacked for your company to suffer. Assaults on the public transport system, the highway network, bridges, traffic control systems – all can stop employees getting into work and that costs a company money. By creating an “out of office” strategy you can be future proofing your business continuity should malodorous solids hit rotating blades.

Finally there are environmental issues. I am not sure about calling it global warming as where I live it is more like global wetting but climate change is having a significant effect on working patterns.  Disruption through hurricane strength winds, flooding, heavy snowfall  looks like being a feature of our lives for some time to come and to not plan for flexible working patterns is suicidal. Mobile computing can help meet this challenge.

Obviously if your home is six feet under Mississippi flood water there is nothing you can do but if you get an evacuation warning then grabbing the company laptop or your iPad or smartphone is good practice not only from a survival point of view, but if there is an enforced spell away from your place of work there is a good chance, with mobile computing, you can still function at a business level.

Laptops, netbooks and even tablet computers are easy to use in a business manner. Mobile computing on Smartphones have yet to prove themselves in this sort of environment but I have been more than a fraction surprised at what I have been able to achieve on my Samsung Galaxy SII out “on the road.”

[pquote_left]Colleagues working from home and using Google’s Chrome browser can use the excellent Chrome to Phone service to send me data. I can scan paperwork using Droidscan which creates PDF document that is easily emailed or uploaded to my SugarSync or Box account. I can even access my MP3 collection on SugarSync and stream my favourite music![/pquote_left]I have never been a fan of old style mobile predictive text but the new “assistive” – is there such a word? There is now! – text entry systems like Swiftkey X and Swype make picking up and responding to emails and even writing reasonably long documents very easy. I can make normal phone calls video Skype calls, text, use Facebook, Twitter or Google+ to communicate to the outside world. I can access documents and spreadsheets stored on my SugarSync or Google Docs account. I can sync my Pocket Informant calendar with my home and work PC and access tasks that have been allocated to me.

All this is available now and technology will empower us even more as time goes by. More importantly countries and companies need to invest in a more robust telecommunications infrastructure to accommodate the potential of mobile computing and out of the office working.  But it will happen.

[note url=””]Kevin TeaAbout the Author: Kevin Tea is a journalist and marketing communications of more years than he cares to remember. A four-year project with the European Commission made him realise that technology had the ability to empower and liberate. This has led to him introducing small to medium-sized businesses to cloud computing and social media through his Web2 and More website.[/note]


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