Are Modern Information Workers Luddites?

Smartphones, Web 2.0 used by only a fraction of workers

Computerworld's interesting story on "8 Ways the American Information Worker Remains a Luddite" carefully hid the fact that people writing for Computerworld, and people like me, too often get excited by shiny objects rather than real work tools. I hope my focus on picking the right tool, rather than the new tool, for the job gives me at least a partial pass. My take? We spend too much time worrying about the glitzy new tools only a fraction of workers use, and ignore ways to get more work done with existing tools, whether hardware or software.

Some of the number quoted from a Forrester survey of 2001 workers for companies medium to large make sense. One in three info workers has a laptop for use at work, a number seemingly at odds with sales reports the last couple of years saying laptops outsold desktops. That number doesn't mean existing working desktops have been replaced automatically because laptops are popular. In fact, replacement cycles have slowed for desktops because of the economy and the rejection of Microsoft Vista. No Vista, no need for a faster desktop refresh rate.

Besides, workers who don't travel or wander around the building constantly don't gain any benefits by trading in a desktop for a laptop. While the hype says laptops help workers "be productive" constantly from any location, many managers would be happy to get their workers to actually work while at their desks.

Interestingly after looking at smartphone sales numbers, only one in nine survey respondents had a smartphone. Annoying iPhone fanatics seem to make up half the workforce, but maybe their cult is more noisy than numerous.

The biggest surprise to me? One in five people who responded to the survey share a PC. 20 percent don't have a computer full time. Are they to be pitied or envied?

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