Mobile Computing: Debunking The Myths Of Mobile Devices

by Renee Robbins on March 3, 2010

The other day a board member told me that they didn’t want people to be able to work away from the office.  They said that they knew people were working when they were at work.  The thing is this executive thought there was no possible way to really get work done from your phone.  Sure you could check out email, and type a quick response, but that was it.  It was a little surreal to hear this.  See, I’ve been attached to my phone lately.  Lots of new opportunities have come across my desk and if I wasn’t able to stay connected I would never be able to leave.  I’ve reviewed presentations, proposals, and taken part in online meetings right from my phone.  All in all, I think it’s time to shed some light on some mobile device myths. 

Lack in Processing Power, Key Size, and Screen

While they are smaller in size as compared to the conventional desktops people were so used to in the decades that passed, mobile devices are as near as powerful as the large computers. It is true that they lack the large physical interfaces like the keyboard, mouse, monitor, printer, and other peripherals; and because of these, people may think, the smaller computer devices are incapable of functioning like a true bigger computer does.

However, today’s mobile and handheld devices are quite as capable. Most of these devices already come now with usable screens, QWERTY keyboards, and add-on small peripherals like earphones and others. In other gadgets, they already feature an aid which is for clicking or pointing on the screen, a very common interface with today’s latest devices.  I have recently downloaded an app to my iPhone that allows me to print from my phone.  For more information on that check out Print n Share at the app store. 

A Distraction to the Younger Generations

Facebook, Twitter, Spazzle!, and more…. what is a corporate executive to think?   All these apps must just be a waste of time.  However, a personal desktop computer can be as distracting as the mobile devices are.  In addition, University of Melbourne study showed that workers who limited their “internet surfing” to less than 20% actually ended up being 9% more productive than those that don’t engage in what they called “Workplace Internet Leisure Browsing (WILB).”  The thought is people need to let their brains take a rest and work out a problem on a subliminal level. 

The challenge that many companies face is appropriately training their employees on limited WILB.  As the study points out some companies spend millions of dollars trying to block internet programs like Facebook and Twitter instead of trying to figure out how to take advantage of that additional 9% in productivity.  Wouldn’t your company like to be 9% more productive?  My suggestion is to use the millions of dollars spent try to block internet programs on a educational campaign on how to use the internet appropriately. 

The Cost Barriers and Inaccessibility

People always say mobile devices are expensive and thus inaccessible. However, when one would look at it, these devices are affordable because of their capability to bring mobile computing world right at the tips of their fingers without having to engage in high-cost and most often times complex wireless installation that it used to before. Most of the mobile devices of today are pre-loaded with features that make them ready to access the mobility internet, while others just require a piece of add-on feature to make them access the mobile internet anytime and anywhere.

Another point to debunk this myth is the fact that most high-end phones delivered to the buying public of today cost significantly less than they were a decade ago.Furthermore, data plans have come down significantly. In the past people had to pay per byte of information, now unlimited data plans are available for only $30 a month!  The lower cost and charges are due to the increasing availability of the mobile computing technology and its users.

So what does this mean for training?

If we are ever going to get to a point where we can use mobile technology as a learning tool we need to help executives get past the idea that the use of mobile phones are limited to email.  We have to show the ease of “mobile working” before we can truly persuade leadership to invest in “mobile learning.”  How you ask?  I suggest including some new courses in your curriculum – add a “Blackberry: It’s more than email” course and get people using the technology the way it was meant to be used.


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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

John Witham March 3, 2010 at 4:55 pm

I’ve got to agree 100% with all facets of this article. Smartphones these days are half a notch under their clamshell notebook counterparts. The iPhone OS is a stripped down version of Mac OSX, and Google’s Linux/Android based Nexus One runs a 1000MHz Snapdragon CPU. Enabling employees to consume anything/anytime (within reason) is going to make the individual more productive, and the company more responsive. Sprinkle in the iPad and other “slate” platforms, and now you have a large screen and the ability to leverage productivity apps like word processing and presentations. As for limiting Social Networking and other web access, the ongoing support ramifications also need to be taken into consideration. Blocking websites is a slippery slope, and what happens when the PR team or the eLearning team wants to establish a company-sanctioned Twitter or Facebook page? … Well written! (typed on my iPhone!)

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