The Mobile Workforce Is a Reality, Not a Prediction
By Eric Lin, Wed Jun 16 07:15:00 GMT 2004

Now that a mobilized workforce is finally becoming a reality, employees are looking forward to spending some time out of the office, and companies are happy to have the tools to manage them.

Telia conducted a survey of over 3600 Swedish workers, asking about their needs for working off site. Despite the fact that the survey didn't reveal how many would actually be working offsite this summer, it worded the results as though every person was expected to be mobile this summer. Whether they will or won't be working from the beach, about 70% of those surveyed want their companies to invest more in mobile solutions, a clear indicator that employees are looking forward to being mobile soon.

When working out of the office, the most important factor to employees is the same thing on every cellular user's mind: reception. 57% said good network coverage was the most critical factor for improving their productivity and availability. Access to a corporate intranet barely edged out mobile email delivered to the phone for second.

Providing these tools to workers has become big business, not only for software companies, but for operators. In-Stat MDR believes business will provide over two-thirds of data revenues for American carriers this year. In-Stat also expects business's share to grow slightly over the next five years, despite expectations for consumer data growth.

Although they're already the primary buyers, companies will be willing to spend more money on mobile data as services beyond corporate email and file access become possible. Location based applications using GPS are already saving companies and their employees time and money. Picture and video messaging are starting to prove useful to businesses as well, and should grow in popularity as cameras and screens improve. Motorola is even expected to announce an upgrade to its push-to-talk protocol allowing business users to share images and video the same way.