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Supporting handheld computers on your network

PC's appear to be nearing the end of their lifecycle as the essential appliance for networked enterprises � new appliances are entering the arena and most share the characteristic of mobility. Entering the mainstream over the past few years have been handheld computers or PDA's including devices from Palm Computing and Microsoft's Windows CE line. Both have seen success in the consumer and corporate market but Palm (Handspring clone and other Palm OS devices) dominates with over 80% of the market.

To date, the handheld market has targeted basic features on these devices such as Date Books, To Do lists etc. However, now that the capacities of these devices are becoming greater and interest in inexpensive mobile alternatives to PC's is taking hold, network administrators are looking for ways to capitalize on these tools.

Begin your search for applying handhelds in the enterprise by focusing on tools that are already used but that could be enhanced by putting them on smaller, digital devices. For instance email, the quintessential mission critical killer app is a good place to start implementing mobile technology. Introducing an application that users are already familiar with is more likely to succeed on a new platform (i.e. a handheld) compared to attempting to introduce a new application and a new platform simultaneously.

After users become more at ease with navigating their way through familiar applications on the new device, then you can begin introducing more and more applications such as mobile databases to provide unique tools for customizing content to your enterprises specifications.

Barrie Sosinsky (barries@killerapps.com)is president of consulting company Sosinsky and Associates (Medfield MA). He has written extensively on a variety of computer topics. His company specializes in custom software (database and Web related), training and technical documentation.


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