Software

3 Questions: Wireless e-mail pushes productivity

When people can access corporate e-mail, they tend to use dead time to work. Is wireless e-mail suitable for your organization?


With Genelle Hung, market analyst for the Radicati Group and coauthor of "Enterprise Wireless E-mail Market Trends, 2003-2007." One of the most interesting findings of the report was that wireless e-mail increases the time employees spend working by an average of 55 minutes per day now—and that the average will increase to 80 minutes per day by the end of 2007.

This interview originally appeared in the IT Business Edge weekly report on empowering a Mobile Workforce. To see a complete listing of IT Business Edge weekly reports or sign up for this free technology intelligence agent, visit www.itbusinessedge.com.

By Carl Weinschenk

Question:
What point should managers and the IT folks who work for them take from the report?

Hung: That wireless e-mail is a way to make people work more. People tend to use more dead time to work when they can access corporate e-mail, sitting at lunch waiting for a friend, on the subway, etc. They tend to bust out their PDAs if they are able to check their e-mail. Those extra blocks of five and 10 minutes add up to a lot of productivity. I think it's one of those things people don't consider. They do not realize this actually increases productivity for the company as a whole, which is pretty valuable these days in terms of ROI and that type of thing.

Question: How should a company choose the type of wireless e-mail to use?

Hung: We recommend businesses consider functionality, devices, security, and of course, price. IT decision makers should consider what solution they want: Do they want e-mail only, or do they want to include PIM [personal information manager] data and other corporate apps? Is e-mail mission-critical and the other things overkill? They should consider how their mobile workforce uses e-mail. If the mobile workforce is never at the office, a more advanced solution would be recommended. The next category is devices. Some solutions require standardization on one device. Some corporations use a whole bunch of different devices. If so, they should look for an appropriate solution. It's standard to check out text input—keyboard vs. stylus—memory size, screen size, battery life, device size and the e-mail client. I don't think security is a main [competitive] issue anymore: Everyone knows that if you don't have viable security, you're dead. There is a pretty standard pricing model: a services license and a client license.

Question: What about wireless collaboration?

Hung: It's a challenge right now to have wireless collaboration. Being able to link all those functions over the Internet to work in groups—we're still a bit away from that. For collaboration right now, we need people to be sitting at a desk. IM, for instance, is working on presence applications, but they are still desk-oriented solutions.

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