Managers split on usefulness of wireless wares



The GCN Reader Survey is intended to provide data on trends and product preferences. This survey on personal wireless use is based on telephone interviews with 100 government readers who on their subscription forms identified themselves at IT or systems managers.

How important is wireless technology to government managers? It's a house divided.

Just over half the managers in a GCN telephone survey about personal wireless use said wireless technologies weren't at all important to meeting their job responsibilities.

But the rest said using wireless was at least somewhat important to doing their jobs. And they rated it very important to their performance.

Most users in the survey liked the mobility that wireless devices afford, whether they're carrying a wireless-enabled notebook PC or personal digital assistant, cellular phone or combination device.

'It gives me more freedom of movement,' said an Agency for International Development customer support manager in Washington who uses a BlackBerry messaging device from Research in Motion Ltd. of Waterloo, Ontario, and a cell phone.

Wireless technology 'makes us more productive,' said an IT manager from the District of Columbia Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, who uses an agency-provided wireless PDA. On his wish list is a wireless-enabled notebook. 'It would help with mobility and telecommuting,' he said.

'Wireless is flexible,' said a Marine Corps senior computer engineer at Camp Pendleton, Calif., who wields an arsenal of wireless devices, including a PDA and notebook. 'We don't have to worry about support from remote locations.'

'You have constant communications capability,' said a Veterans Affairs Department IT specialist in Manchester, N.H., whose cell phone, BlackBerry, wireless PDA and wireless notebook help him stay in touch with his office.

What they carry

More than half of the managers we talked with'54 percent'use a wireless device of some kind.

Sixty-five percent carry at least a cell phone. Nearly half'44 percent'use a BlackBerry messaging device. And nearly a third use PDAs with wireless capability. Fewer'17 percent'have wireless notebooks.

Most wireless users in the survey, 94 percent, reported that their devices were provided by their agencies.

Some who don't have a wireless device would like to.

An Energy Department systems administrator in Golden, Colo., would love a cell phone and PDA hybrid. 'It would help me be free from being tied to my office,' she said.

A Treasury Department computer specialist in Washington said he wants a BlackBerry.

'I would like to get e-mail on the fly,' he said.

A computer specialist at Hill Air Force Base in Utah said that wireless devices aren't important to his job, but he still wouldn't mind having a cell phone and PDA hybrid.

'It would make my job more fun,' he said.

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