Business users of smartphones such as the iPhone and BlackBerry say they value the extra connectivity these phones provide, despite this meaning they are on call for work more frequently and for longer hours.
A survey by Dr John Hopkins from Victoria University found that around-the-clock and on-the-go access to email, calendars, contacts, the internet and GPS were the most valued features of the devices.
Dr Hopkins, an information systems lecturer, surveyed 182 business users of smartphones in Melbourne to examine how the mobility these devices offer affects the way users communicate, behave and do business.
"Smartphones offer multiple lines of communication, all channelled through a single device and interface," he said. "The increased responsiveness that this brings was the most valued advantage that these phones deliver to business users. It allows them to complete more tasks in more places. Work is no longer regarded as a place where we go, it is an activity that can be performed anywhere."
"A vast majority of users said they valued the flexibility of connecting in virtually any place and at any time in a manner that laptops and desktop computers do not provide. This allows them to respond to requests or new information more rapidly, saving time and adding significant value in their working lives."
Some of the other key findings of the survey are:
- Instant access to email is valued by 87% of users
- Synchronised calendar and diary facilities are valued by 39% of users
- Mobile internet capability are highly regarded by 30% of users
- GPS/mapping are regarded as significant by 22% of users
"Many of those surveyed were likely to be early adopters of the new technology although the use of these devices is already widespread," Dr Hopkins said.
"There is an acknowledged downside for some users, who felt that they were obliged to respond to new emails or information as soon as they are received, regardless of the day and time, but the majority viewed this as a positive."
The most popular applications added to standard smartphones by users were those employed for social networking such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Tweetie, TweetDeck and Twitterrific. "This indicates support for what some researchers have suggested is a crucial role that these online communities now play in people's business lives."
The features that users said they would like to be able to use that were not currently available included multitasking, editing Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents, Flash Player and project management tools.
Dr Hopkins is available for interview: 0425 647 076.
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