The trend of extending cellular data capabilities to notebook computers has truly revolutionised the mobile worker landscape in South Africa.
More and more executives are discovering the value of telecommuting and the efficiency gains of keeping their fingers on the pulse of all happenings in their businesses, regardless of where they may be in their workday.
"These benefits notwithstanding however, South African managers still have a 'fishbowl' approach towards staff – if they cannot see their employees in the office, the immediate assumption is that they're loafing," says Gustavo Pinto, product manager for Fujitsu Siemens Computers at ChannelWare.
In reality however, Pinto says, certain employees should not be in the office. "If the employee's job centres on face-to-face interaction with customers, then the last place they should be is in the office – they should rather be interacting with customers and increasing sales," he says.
"Technology enables them to remain just as productive out of the office, as they would be at the office – be it out seeing customers or promoting the company, employees can still have access to the company's systems over UMTS, enabling them to do business in real-time wherever they may be. Although the 3G/UMTS/HSDPA footprint is not comprehensive in South Africa yet, Fujitsu Siemens Computers UMTS-ready notebooks switch over to EDGE/GPRS where necessary, providing access at the best possible transfer rate for the location.
"Add to this functionality the recent reductions in 3G pricing from local cellular service providers, and there is no reason for South African companies not to mobilise staff and start maximising productivity. With ChannelWare & Fujitsu Siemens Computers as their partners in mobility, access to UMTS-ready notebooks are just a telephone call away."
Pinto adds that more organisations should be making use of mobile broadband technology to gain the best value out of their employees and to reduce operating costs.
"A company with small regional branches could maximise profitability by migrating to mobile offices – staff could access the servers at their head office over a secure VPN, and communicate with each other from their homes using web-conferencing, Skype, Email and messaging applications. The cost of deployment would be recovered from the reduction in operating costs achieved in doing away with the traditional office and the costs associated with it.
"It's almost too easy to roll out a mobile work force today, and the benefits far outweigh the costs," he adds.
UMTS is available on selected models of both the LifeBook and Amilo Pro notebook ranges from Fujitsu Siemens Computers. Both ranges, as well as the Primergy server, FibreCAT Storage, Esprimo PC and Celsius Workstation ranges are available through ChannelWare.