More and more people are using their smartphone at work, with mobile devices becoming as tied to our working lives as they are to many other aspects of it.
The results of a poll that has been running on the Dialaphone blog for the last week indicates that a majority of our readers need their handset in order to do their job, with nearly two thirds of people saying as much.
Exactly what purpose they serve in peoples’ working lives could be many and varied; the functions of modern, high-spec smartphones are so extensive that they can be put to an enormous number of uses.
Examples include keeping up with emails, using personal organisers and calendars, taking and organising notes and simply making calls and sending texts when on the go.
Aside from the call and texts functions (which could be done on a feature phone) we get the feeling that smartphones have come to be used for many tasks which may have otherwise been completed using computers and latops.
The brilliantly ergonomic user interfaces that smartphone apps are now designed with make them a realistic alternative for quick tasks that is much easier then getting out a laptop, sitting down at a desk and powering up what are comparatively cumbersome devices.
There is also the convenience angle in terms of portability to consider. Whereas laptops are far more portable compared to desktop computers it’s much easier to take a smartphone into a meeting than to carry a computer of any kind. It’s also far less intrusive when placed on your boardroom table.
However, there are more specific areas of work where smartphones definitely come into play. As our Facebook follower Mark Buikema responded when we asked our social networking audience if they need their smartphones at work: “As an app developer, yes”.
While smartphones offer a platform for plenty of business and work tools to be used, the devices and their ecosystems have become so developed that many people’s jobs are now based around creating content and software specifically for mobile users. Website developers no doubt have to check how the page they are working on renders on an iPhone.
Work use of smartphones used to be an area that was almost completely boxed off by BlackBerry, with the manufacturer having seen its devices become closely linked with the enterprise market.
However, there has been a change in recent years, with other manufacturers keenly eyeing up the business world. We asked those members of our Facebook audience who have work phones which manufacturer is favoured by their employer and Sony came out on top, with both HTC and Apple also appearing on the list.
Stephen Elop, CEO of Nokia, was recently asked by business news service Bloomberg if he had his eye on the enterprise market. “I get asked a lot of questions about this relative to BlackBerry, and what I’ll say is: I’m very interested in BlackBerry customers” commented the boss of the Finnish firm.
Meanwhile, even US defense headquarters The Pentagon has opened its ultra-secure networks up to iOS and Android devices recently, meaning its agents could be using iPhones and the Galaxy S III before long. The agency currently has an incredible 470,000 BlackBerry device on its books and has long been a fan of the security that they offer.
Besides specific manufacturers deliberately aiming themselves towards the enterprise market, there are other ways in which they can expand their user base. Many employers now run ‘bring your own device’ schemes, where a person own handset can be tailored to and synced with company software and networks, saving them having to carry two phones around with them.
BlackBerry has clearly notice this trend and built its BlackBerry 10 platform with this in mind. Within the new BlackBerry UI the option for users to draw a distinction between work and personal use has been incorporated in the form of BlackBerry Balance. This allows company information to be stored in one part of the device and personal data in another.
Should that person leave their job, their employer is able to erase all relevant data automatically but leave handset otherwise untouched.
Smartphones are becoming intrinsically linked with our working lives, and the response from our readers has clearly indicated that their use in the workplace is increasing. However, perhaps the most interesting revelation to spring forth from our research concerns the way in which smartphone manufacturers are now cashing on the enterprise market previously the reserve of BlackBerry. Whether the threat is on that will ultimately put paid to the chances of BlackBerry reclaiming its business use crown remains to be seen, but with the recent innovations included in BlackBerry 10, it’s clearly something the Canadian firm has considered.