Just as folks want less baggage in their personal lives, they want to be less encumbered in their professional lives as well.
A desire to exert more control over when and how they work led some folks to switch from desktops to laptops -- and created pseudo office environments at Panera, Starbucks and other places willing to provide free Wi-Fi along with their overpriced coffee and scones.
But laptops have hassles of their own. They are clunky to lug around. You must scavenge for electrical outlets when batteries run down and keep close watch to avoid theft, dropping and other damage. Schlep your laptop into a separate bin in airport security lines, and just try to get any actual work done while balancing one on a tray table -- at least in coach.
A better (or less unwieldy) way, at least for e-mail, is a smartphone. Until recently, however, e-mail was about all smartphones could do well.
But that's changing. As IT Business Edge blogger Clark Atwood points out: "The convergence of applications, along with the miniaturization of hardware, will prove to be a fertile ground for any business technology geek looking for a fix."
Not only do we agree with Clark, we think smartphones may well be the PC of the future. Smartphones mark the most striking blurring of consumer and enterprise technologies to date.
Powerful hardware manufacturers like Sony Ericsson, Fujitsu and Mitsubishi are trying to nudge the process along by working to develop a common mobile communication platform, and carriers like Sprint Nextel, Vodafone and T-Mobile are collaborating to help bring networks up to speed.
Among the business apps already being delivered on smartphone platforms are business intelligence and CRM. (It's a no-brainer that these apps that increasingly emphasize real-time or near real-time delivery of data were among the first to show up on smartphones.)
And now with the iPhone, Apple has delivered a slick consumer product with definite business appeal. As the Wall Street Journal reports, some users find theiriPhones work better than devices like the BlackBerry for accessing Web-based apps from NetSuite and Salesforce.com.
After two weeks with an iPhone, an unusually thorough InformationWeek reviewer downplays the security risks to corporate networks, loves it for e-mail and synchronization, and just generally really likes the device for both personal and business use. The biggest knock against it, according to the reviewer, is its lack of connectivity with Microsoft's Exchange and IBM's Domino.
A tech consultant offers a workaround for the Exchange issue, and plenty of other good advice, in an InfoWorld article geared toward enterprises that want to give the iPhone a try. We like the title: What IT Staff Can Do if the CEO Gets an iPhone. (Guess he or she is the only one that can realistically expect to get a sign-off from the CFO.)