Just a few years ago, most office workers expected a phone and a PC at their desks in order to get the job done. These days, they not only expect those tools, and a laptop for road trips, but a mobile communication device to boot.
The reason? More Americans than ever are using cell phones or personal digital assistants (PDAs) to communicate. They're also logging online away from work to get information and communicate.
A new study from the Pew Internet & American Life Project reports that 62 percent of all Americans have some experience with mobile access to digital data and tools, and a majority would be hard pressed to relinquish them.
"People are very tactical now about the tool they use to communicate. For yes-no or non-time sensitive work, it's email and texting. But when it's real-time, in-demand they're making the call or going online," John Horrigan, associate director, told InternetNews.com.
The findings indicate a "very fertile ground for pushing information applications into devices," he added.
According to the December Mobile Access to Data and Information survey, which polled 2,054 adults, including 500 reached on cell phones, 58 percent of adult Americans have used a cell phone or PDA to do at least one of 10 mobile non-voice data activities (the list includes texting, e-mailing, photography, location mapping and recording video). Forty-one percent have logged onto the Internet on the go.
The results indicate a changing nature of access -- from slow and stationary to fast and mobile, said Horrigan. The survey also indicates users are quite attached to the tools.
The cell phone would be hardest to give up, according to those surveyed, followed by Internet access, the television and a landline.
The results, noted Horrigan, are a sharp contrast to how the technologies were viewed in 2002. Back then, landline was first, followed by television in the preference list. Internet access and cell phones tied for third place.
Today, over 30 percent of users say an email-enabled device, and e-mail access, would be hard to relinquish.
"We now rely on handhelds and the mobile device in the work environment. Mobile communication is looming larger in the workplace," said Horrigan.
But don't think reliance and dependency always translate to user satisfaction. A recent study reports the current crop of wireless handheld devices could use some improvement.
The big issue is that mobile devices boast too many features. Other complaints include cost of service, short battery life, losing phone or contact info, device theft or damage and reception drop-offs.
As with so many surveys, however, loyalty and dependency remain wild cards in the data. Vendors, over to you?
This article was first published on InternetNews.com.