Mobile Computing Increasingly Does the Heavy Lifting

Carl Weinschenk

At best, mobile technology provides a robust set of applications and network platforms that are the next best thing to being in the office. But, for some workers, the next best thing isn’t quite good enough. These workers need platforms that are equal to what they use in the office.

The industry is not quite there yet, but it is getting close. Yesterday, I blogged on Gartner’s perception that social media, cloud computing, the “ubiquity of information” and mobile technology is creating a new reality.

Mobile technology perhaps is the most important of these elements. Last week, Dell introduced a couple of mobile workstations, the Precision M4700 and the Precision M6700. NewsFactor describes the features of both and, at the beginning of the story, provides insight into the ambitious use case. They are, according to the company:

… aimed at engineering and design professionals, like film editors on movie sets, architects at construction sites, geophysicists in the field and other mobile professionals who need to run graphics or compute intensive apps no matter where they are.

Intuitively, it would seem that extra-powerful mobile computing gear should be a growing sector. The rise of mobility in general is decentralizing work. Folks are more ably performing their appointed tasks from home and the road. In some cases, people will have set up shop in a remote area and it will be necessary or more efficient to call in the big guns — the mobile workstations — to perform some part of the task. The bottom line is that the equipment necessary to make a movie or find oil is orders of magnitude more powerful than what is needed to write and send some emails or work with a spreadsheet.

Hewlett-Packard also is active in this important but perhaps not clearly defined area. In July, HP updated its EliteBook 8470w mobile workstation. According to Notebook Check, the new version features an Intel QM77 Express Chipset, the Ivy Bridge CPU and other high-end features.

There seems to be no definitive descriptive line between the type of communications and computing equipment that is necessary to do rudimentary tasks from the road and the gear needed to find the structural weakness in a bridge, create a 3-D movie or do other intense applications. For instance, the writer of this Officing Today piece discusses the need for mobile workstations and his feeling that Regus is well positioned to supply them in Asia. It is unclear precisely what class of equipment he is referring to or if he is talking about building traditional offices closer to workers.

The trends that shape telecommunications and IT after the fact seem as if they should have easily been predicted. They are based on common sense. Mobile equipment — both the computing power of the devices that work on the scene and capacity of equipment that communicates back into the network — will grow over time. This will not only let people work remotely but will vastly increase what they will accomplish.

At some point, a line will be crossed that enables virtually any task that can be done in the office, on the factory floor or in the data center to be done on the side of a mountain or in a boat in the middle of the ocean. There will be no announcement that this line has been crossed, but the transition will be important nonetheless.

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