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Roundtable: Mobilising workforces

Roundtable: Mobilising workforces

ARN pulls together a group of industry experts to talk about the pros and cons of mobility solutions

"It’s not just about the device anymore, it’s about managing the user and their digital identity so they can be productive from any device.”
- Stuart King, Dell

"It’s not just about the device anymore, it’s about managing the user and their digital identity so they can be productive from any device.”
- Stuart King, Dell

Mobility is a complicated mix of devices, applications, connectivity and support and needs. And it can mean extremely differents things to an SMB, mid-market corporate, blue-collar or white-collar organisation. ARN recently pulled together a panel of industry experts to discuss market trends and opportunities for the channel.

This roundtable was sponsored by Dell.

Nadia Cameron, ARN (NC): How do you interpret mobility today?

Stuart King, Dell (SK): It’s about being mobile, away from the office, and logging on to do your business to be productive anywhere. That could be through the traditional notebook, Wi-Fi networks, 3G networks, VPN access and so on. It could also be more of a streaming desktop, and there are a lot of new technologies from the likes of Citrix and VMware where you stream your desktop session and all your data resides at home base. You run a thin operating system, like a Windows Mobile device or iPhone, and you can access all your resources and be productive wherever you are. There are a lot of supporting technologies that have led that expansion, but the biggest would be broadband, which has enabled a lot of stuff to take place that typically couldn’t, and there is decent enough competition in this country at least to bring price points to a point where it’s not too intrusive.

But mobility could really mean anything – you could be logging on from an Internet terminal. It’s not just about the device anymore, it’s about managing the user and their digital identity so they can be productive from any device. And security is the key, both data and physical.

Conrad Hilder, Anittel (CH): I agree with everything Stuart is saying – it’s when all the technological components including the carriage services come together and allow us to do a whole lot more. But certainly in the SMB place, mobility is now the ability to reach down into what were traditional blue-collar roles. For a long time, BlackBerry, the telcos and so on, allowed us to do the white-collar jobs out and about. But now, people are able to do more of their actual office work remotely. That’s moving right into the traditionally dirty or difficult roles in remote environments, such as delivery trucks. It doesn’t occur to these guys now not to use the intranet, or check their email, while on the road. When it comes to mobility, it really is very broad, but I think in the SMB market place, mobility is just on the horizon now because it’s affordable. It’s only over the last 12 months that the affordability of mobility has been there – only enterprises were previously able to do it.

Rob Boogers, TLC (RB): Mobility is all-encompassing. It’s everything from a fully-fledged notebook or tablet PC, to a handheld. We work all across mobility, but we specialise in the blue-collar space. The difference there is we’re dealing with a lot of people who don’t want to be computerised, and that comes with a whole bunch of challenges. We actually negotiate with unions on why mobility is of benefit, and why having GPS in the device these guys are issued with, or in their vehicles, is not a bad thing – it’s not there to track the fact that they will or won’t be parked in front of the pub instead of wiring someone’s house. That’s from the productivity perspective. The other area we work in is emergency services, where it’s not about cost or ROI, it’s about saving lives.

CH: It’s interested how you and your organisation are working with customers to help them figure our firstly, what’s possible, and also what they need to solve it. One of the things I feel is the big difference between true enterprise, where there are people who can spend time on this, versus mid-market, who want you to tell them what it can do and what the business benefits are.

Adam Nixon, PCnation (AN): It’s also a generational change. People want information coming to them in a variety of ways. As businesses, we need to make sure we’re adopting those different strategies for enterprise or mid-market, and promoting it to our customers. Our space is the mid-market, and we need to keep educating there to ensure customers are getting the most out of technology.

NC: Are you getting lots of questions about achieving mobility?

AN: We do get questions, but I think customers rely on us heavily for promotion and education.

CH: The questions are still more around the business problems, where we’ve then mentioned mobility. They don’t come to you with a question about mobility.

Click here to see the full slideshow and key quotes from the event


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