Despite widespread adoption of personal digital assistants (PDA), few enterprises are attempting to synchronise 'live' business data with PDA applications for their mobile workforce, according to market research company Forrester Research.
Almost half (47%) of organisations have implemented PDAs, yet less than a quarter (24%) have deployed mobile data access mechanisms to date, up marginally from 20% in 2001.
This suggests there is pent-up demand for mobile data, but that organisations are waiting for the "right technology and business value package". However, an alternative view is that demand for synchronised mobile data may never be that strong, "Because most handheld work just doesn't require up-to-the second data," says Forrester analyst Frank Gillett. He adds, "Firms are focused on PDAs that deliver data and apps whether there's a signal or not."
The Forrester research found that PDA usage is particularly high in industries where a large proportion of workers are mobile, such as the utilities industry. Nearly three-quarters of utilities workers (72%) are mobile. This indicates the devices are used by "line workers, and not just trendy executives", says Gillett.
Initially, PDAs were stereotyped as little more than contact and calendar gadgets, but more advanced operating systems from vendors including Microsoft and Palm have enhanced the capabilities of these devices.