Mobile Productivity: Can We Get There from Here?

By Larry Bonfante  |  Posted 02-22-2012

Mobile computing is one of the most exciting and important trends we have experienced in a very long time. Eliminating the barriers of time and place allows us to be productive when we are ready to engage. It also allows us to carry the information we need to succeed in our pockets (or on our belts/hips/purses/etc.).

While tremendous progress has been made to date, there are still some issues we need to work out before we can throw away our big clunky computers.

First of all, some of us have jobs which don't readily lend themselves to using a mobile device as a primary computing platform. I can't imagine today's financial analysts throwing away their powerful desktop machines with their multiple large-screen monitors any time soon.

Security is still a concern for many companies in highly regulated industries. Among the questions that need to be addressed in this sector:

  • How much sensitive information do you make readily accessible on a mobile device?

  • How do you appropriately secure these devices to make sure that when they walk your proprietary information doesn't walk with them?

There are more general questions facing all manner of enterprises:

  • For those of us who use custom-built apps, should we build for an iPhone platform, an Android platform, or both?

  • Should we simply develop "mobile friendly" versions of our computer apps that are easier to read and navigate on a handheld device?

  • What about those of us 50 and over (like me!) whose arms may be getting too short to read small fonts on our mobile devices? What are we supposed to do?

  • How do we decide what platforms to standardize on?

  • Do we (as I do) have a laptop, tablet and iPhone requiring us to carry, sync and support three different physical devices? Or do we standardize on one device?

  • Do we develop company standards that we disseminate to our employees, or are we ready to support a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) model?

Granted, some of these challenges are not insurmountable, and many of them are already being addressed by innovative companies. However, many of these issues have less to do with technology and more to do with culture and human behavior. Never underestimate how hard it can be to change a person's behavior. (How many of your New Year's resolutions to change your diet have already gone up in smoke?) We humans are creatures of habit and often hang onto old behaviors even when we are convinced that a new approach would be in our best interest.

I am convinced that the day is fast approaching when we will stop purchasing laptop/desktop computers and will be working with tablets and mobile devices as our primary and only means of computing. I'm just not sure that that day will be next Tuesday!

About the Author

Larry Bonfante is CIO of the United States Tennis Association and founder of CIO Bench Coach, LLC, an executive coaching practice for IT executives. He is also author of Lessons in IT Transformation, published by John Wiley & Sons. He can be reached at Larry@