I got my first cell phone back in 1989—it was a Motorola "brick" that cost more than $1,000—and Ive probably used a couple of dozen different models since. My first PDA arrived as soon as they were available, and Ive probably gone through a dozen different models. I got a "luggable" business computer in 1986 and a notebook computer in 1991. Ive tried the entire repertoire of converged phone/PDA/ultra-lightweight PCs available—and some that arent.
Its all because I spend almost all of my working time away from the "office"—in fact, I no longer have a permanent office location. With a wired, or wireless, connection to the Internet and good VPN software, I can "office" just about anywhere. In this sense Im at the extreme of the mobile executive market segment—but by no means at the extreme of the mobility market.
Consultants arent the only people who operate in highly mobile workplaces. Face-to-face sales forces and the teams of technicians who install everything from domestic cable service to industrial machinery are just two examples of jobs that require mobility. Add in field-service teams, couriers and transport operators, emergency service first responders, even utility-company meter readers, and you get a significant population of people who make up the mobile work force. Even people who work in one location may not have a fixed office: Security, messenger, janitorial and supervisory roles generally require movement as a part of the job design. And we all go to meetings.
Whats the best way to provide all these different folks with efficient and reliable access to information and business automation capabilities? Essentially, you have three approaches to choose from, which clearly are not mutually exclusive.