Hello from rainy Orlando. No complaints here though – it’s only 40 degrees warmer than in Boston. I’m here today for Enterprise Connect – the conference formerly known as VoiceCon (anyone get the Prince reference?). In any case, I attended this morning a “Coffee Session” on mobility and UC (Unified Communications). The moderator started off by asking a question about how people were using mobile devices. Shockingly, I had to butt in and ask my own question. My question was a simple one: How do you define mobility?
Not surprisingly, the answers from the ~70 people went all across the board. Some people said it was only using a smartphone. Some said mobility was anything smaller than a 5″ device (I guess that excludes all tablets)…and some said that mobility was anything with a wireless connection. There were other answers/definitions, but I think you get the drift.
There’s still no singular answer to this most basic and fundamental question.
We also talked during the session about companies are dealing with the different constituents – whether CEOs, VPs, general staff or students…yes those pesky and annoying students. One fascinating topic that came up was that one school was deploying a mobile UC solution so that students didn’t need to get their professors mobile phone numbers to tell them that their paper was going to be late. (Whatever happened to just sending an email?) The new twist on the problem was to be able to handle more than just BlackBerrys but also being able to do the soft hand-off from WiFi to 3G and back. These are the REAL problems that people/companies are dealing with. Turns out one vendor did a better job on one part of the problem, but the other vendor was better at the other part….so they’re not sure which one to pick. Sound familiar?
And then came my favorite topic – individual vs. corporate liability of devices. We often talk here about managing smartphones and providing people choice. That’s great in theory, but the people who were in the session were the ones who actually have to deal with all this choice and I can tell you that many were either frustrated or unsure about the best approach to take. For every question answered, someone would say “Ya, but what if….” or “So how do I….”
Whether it’s tablets, smartphones, laptops, ruggedized devices or even machine to machine (M2M)…it’s ALL mobile. It’s also not just about people anymore (per M2M). It’s just another means of accessing and transporting information…making transactions happen OTA (over the air). It’s also about using new technologies for doing the most basic things…like talking to someone. The problem is, we have too many choices and too many means of doing all of this. I guess that’s part of the fun of being in a growing/nascent market.
Which goes back to the original question. What is mobility?