The BBC - from PDA scaredy-cat to PDA role model?

Not quite...

Not quite...

The BBC is in the middle of a trial, set to last up to 18 months, to find out if its employees can benefit from using handheld computing devices, otherwise known as PDAs. Of course most staff who already use a PDA will know the answer to this. (And it's the reason why Palms, iPaqs and other models first started sneaking in to the workplace in the first place.) But then when did common sense ever cut through red tape? OK, that sounds a little cynical. In fact, the BBC should be applauded for pushing ahead with a controlled and professional roll out of PDAs. Such a roll out must be accompanied by the necessary technology and expertise to support an environment where the devices are used. It is just a shame that we can't be told more about how the BBC and its principal partner in this project, Microsoft, are working together. There is a real need for role models in this area. There are plenty of companies, many of them sizeable, not adopting PDA usage policies because they would rather deny Elaine from accounts asking Danny in IT to set up her Palm Desktop and allow synchronisation with her Outlook software, for example. This type of ostrich approach is dangerous and cannot last. Companies will soon have to acknowledge what individuals have known for a long time - PDAs are key productivity and communications tools, when managed properly. And this will only be more so as devices become increasingly powerful and sophisticated. We have been told the BBC's status means it cannot disclose anything about ongoing trials. It has also been spelt out that the user trial will take a while because the Corporation has to be certain that spending licence payers' money on this technology is justifiable. We can only hope that after so much by-the-book preparation the BBC is sensible enough not to go from no control to over-control. What odds, for example, it doesn't try to make employees standardise solely on Microsoft devices?