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Are Mobile Proponents All Just Hypocrites?

I am, at least for now. But others are walking the talk much better than me.

I confess: I can talk a good game about how mobile tools are revolutionizing the way business is conducted. But I don't live the dream.

When I'm composing my Rhapsodies In Blog about the merits of the mobile workstyle, I'm either in my cubicle at work or (shudder) at home, in front of my desktop.

Sure, I use my iPhone 4s incessantly for work and play, to the detriment of my eyesight and other parts of my health. And I do fantasize about filing my blogs from some Windows 8 lap-tablet while on some deserted beach, sipping a fruity cocktail with a little paper umbrella in it.

Alas, family commitments, household budgets and lack of business travel (I'm on the road only 1-2 times a year) mean that the most exotic place I have worked from recently is the dining room of my Canadian in-laws.

And when I do venture out to mobile conference, chances are that I'll be typing on my work-issued ThinkPad laptop.

Which is why I cringed while reading my fellow mobile blogger Benjamin Robbins's rather gentle rant against those of us who fail to walk our talk

The media workroom was just as bad, if not worse...Of the approximately 40 or 50 people in the room, only 2 or 3 were ever doing their work on tablets. Rather than mobile mayhem, it was rows of media types on laptops neatly aligned like schoolchildren doing their schoolwork. I would not have expected my working on a mobile device at a gathering called MobileCON to stand out.

It wasn’t just looks that gave away the crowd’s PC attachment disorder; their speech betrayed them as well. Walking around the floor and talking to individuals I heard phrases such as, “I’ll send you an e-mail when I get back to the hotel this evening,” “Hold on a sec, I need to get that document off of my laptop,” “Where can I plug in my computer?” and my favorite, “Let me show you a demo of our mobile product,” said while using a PC connected to a large monitor. Sure, there were people dashing off texts and tweets from their phones, but I expected more, well, mobile.

Robbins is trying to work an entire year entirely from his smartphone. Truth be told, it's a Samsung Galaxy Note, which with its 5.3-inch screen, is a cross between a smartphone and a smaller tablet, aka 'phablet'.

Robbins also fits the demographic. He's a true road warrior, away from his Seattle office as much as your national salesperson, field worker, or on-the-go executive.

For instance, SAP president Sanjay Poonen travels about half of the time, during which he does all of his work from his smartphone and iPad. Click on the image below to see a short video of Poonen in action:

sanjay poonen

SAP CIO Oliver Bussmann is also featured in the above video, enthusing about the four devices he carries (here's the photographic proof) and the dashboards and other apps he uses to manage SAP's IT systems while he travels.

Of course, both are big-time executives with assistants who can handle the long-form writing or PowerPoint-creating duties. And, in the case of Bussmann, he is a big guy - the kind who you could imagine on an American football field in his younger days. Carrying around four devices with associated peripherals (power chargers, keyboards, etc.) probably doesn't feel all that heavy to him.

My point? We're entering the Post-PC era, no doubt about it. But the infrastructure - the apps, the peripherals, the network infrastructure, the management - hasn't totally caught up with our devices. As a result, neither have our corporate processes, or our habits. Some of us are adapting much faster than others. 

But everything's changing quickly, not least our devices. Ten years ago, Windows tablets failed because they were too heavy, too slow and too short on battery life. Today's Microsoft Surface convertible lap-tablet and its cousins have come a long way towards solving those problems.

In a few years, I don't doubt that we'll have tablets that are as thin and light as a roll of paper, as comfortable to type on and view as a desktop, with all-day battery life.

Just as important, the surrounding infrastructure - the apps, the security, the management - will be complete.

For instance, Gartner predicts that two-thirds of enterprises will have rolled out mobile device management software by 2017.

At that point, you won't hear me yammering away about the mobile dream. Like you, I will just be living it.

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