Wednesday, November 1, 2000

Handsizing: a powerful idea for your business


By Kathy Burns

Most of us are familiar with the idea of "downsizing" an organization. This term came to be associated with the practice of scaling down a company's employee base in order to conserve monetary resources. This new column will explore the concept of "handsizing" an organization, or the scaling down and optimization of a company's hardware base in order to conserve monetary resources and increase mobility.

Handsizing your organization is still a new concept, and there are many factors to be considered before proceeding. Over the next several months, we'll explore areas such as cost-effectiveness, need analysis, MIS, support, and security. We'll attempt to weigh the pros and cons of various handsizing aspects and offer solid information with which you can move forward into this new era.

Since the Palm OS still commands a solid 70% of the handheld market, we'll primarily explore Palm device handsizing options, rather than the use of handheld computers in general.

What exactly is handsizing?

The concept of handsizing is simple. It's the implementation of the use of handheld computers in day-to-day business activities. Modern handheld computers can be used for Internet access, email correspondence, inventory, and database access with real-time updating, report logging, and filing, expense tracking, group scheduling, and even live chat sessions among many other things.

Handsizing employees can be as simple as providing them with a low-cost units, such as the Palm m100, or providing full wireless enabled handhelds such as the Palm VII. In following along with this column, you'll find there are also many accessories available that some of your employees may require. Accessories range from Global Positioning Systems, to keyboards, to digital cameras, to clip on wireless modems.

Who should consider handsizing?

Almost any business that uses computers can take advantage of handsizing in one way or another. Corporations with mobile employees, organizations with field sales forces, entrepreneurs, small businesses with small budgets, and service based businesses that track time and expenses are but a few of those that could benefit.

Why should corporations consider handsizing?

According to a report published by Meta Group in February 2000, in the next three to four years, more than 75% of knowledge workers will be mobile--on the road, working at home, or in a mobile office--at least 25% of the time.

Currently the cost of outfitting employees with full laptop computers and accessories for mobility can range from $1500 to well over $3000 for each person. With software and accessories, the high-end price of handsizing an employee with a Palm device is around $500.