Mobile working

Businessman-Mobile-Apps-12048962_l eolas examines how mobile technology, including faster mobile broadband, smartphones and tablets, are all helping staff work outside the traditional office.

Mobile technology is changing the way workplaces and employees operate with more work being done on-the-move.

With faster broadband, the rise of social media and useful cloud apps for business (see pages 44 and 45), many employees believe that they can be more productive by working flexibly. In addition, more firms are trading with partners and customers overseas which often necessitates foreign travel or communicating across different time zones. Virgin Atlantic has become the first airline in Britain to offer in-flight mobile phone calls, texts and web access in the air.

Gartner Inc has highlighted the increasing importance of mobile device management, stating that: “With the unabated growth of consumerisation, IT leaders need to implement mobile device management to manage corporate- and employee-owned devices, and assign responsibilities inside IT departments for the service, application and security of all these devices.”

In addition, Gartner predicts that the personal cloud (encompassing business, consumer and government services) is poised to eclipse the PC as the hub of consumers’ digital lives by 2014 “as rapid growth in the use of apps and services introduces a new paradigm for how people store, synchronise, share and stream content.”

The advance of 4G (fourth generation) mobile technology could see urban Irish businesses benefit from super-fast broadband speeds of up to 100 MBps on fixed wireless connections. An auction of multi-band spectrum suitable for

4G services, due before the summer, could pave the way for 4G technologies like long-term evolution (LTE), a feature of the new iPad. In addition, former 2G bands can be used to provide

3G coverage to more of the population, including rural areas. However, the Next Generation Broadband Taskforce has reported that, by 2018, rural populations will have a “basic” broadband service unless the Government intervenes.

Ireland’s information and communication sector employed 74,900 people in June 2011, an increase of 3,600 employees since 2007. Computer services accounted for 40.5 per cent (€32 billion) of the State’s balance of payments for all business services (€79 billion) in 2011. Ireland’s ICT sector, therefore, is increasingly seen as important to the recovering the country’s economy and its reputation as a destination for foreign investors.

The Action Plan for Jobs notes that the emergence of mobile technology has contributed to “innovation and new revenue streams for firms of all sizes.” Mobile technology, green IT, e-health and internet-based cloud infrastructure, are high on the Government’s agenda.

The health sector is increasingly using mobile technology within and outside hospitals. For example, haemophilia patients at the National Centre for Hereditary Coagulation Disorders at St James’ Hospital are given a secure mobile with an app that enables them to check their medication has not expired or been recalled prior to treatment. They can also log on to a web portal to check their treatment and perhaps spot trends.

Nine hospitals have been using the National Integrated Medical Imaging System since February 2010, which makes radiological services ‘filmless’ and allows secure and rapid movement of patient image data throughout the Health Service. Doctors can electronically view their patient’s diagnostic images, such as x-rays and CT scans, quickly and easily and can pass the details on to the patient’s GP. The HSE had aimed to have 35 hospitals using the system by 2013 but this may be affected by government cutbacks.

The Pre Hospital Emergency Care Unit uses a responder alert smartphone app, created by Valentia Technologies, whereby ambulance staff send ‘real-time’ details of the incident to the hospital, thereby alerting them of what is en route, reducing the need for paper records and ensuring a more structured patient care work flow.

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