In the movie Multiplicity, an overworked Doug Kinney (Michael Keaton) allows himself to be cloned so that he can accomplish collectively what he can’t do individually. It doesn’t work out.
Now, technology analysts predict something similar for the typical office worker, only this time multiplicity pertains not to people but to the gizmos they rely on. By 2007, says Meta Group Inc. analyst Steve Kleynhans, a knowledge worker will depend on at least four different devices—a home PC, a corporate computer, a mobile information device, and a “smart digital entertainment system.”
The traditional desktop computer will serve as the primary device for just 45 percent of corporate workers, larlely because many of them are now “corridor warriors,” says Kleynhans, roaming from meeting to meeting and work group to work group. As a result, they need the sort of mobile access to information that a notebook or tablet PC can provide. While tablet PCs have yet to win the kind of sales Microsoft and others hope for, Kleynhans says that when more of the devices are offered with integrated keyboards, sales will improve. He predicts that by 2006, one-third of all notebook computers sold to corporations will offer some kind of tablet (that is, pen-based) functionality, allowing all those corridor warriors to take notes wherever they go.
The idea of equipping workers with multiple gadgets may sound expensive, but Kleynhans claims that if companies study the options coming into the market, they’ll be able to reduce overall IT expenses and make workers more productive. He says software firms must begin to modify applications so they are “thin” enough to be useful to employees who will access them from mobile devices.