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Got My Productivity-Enhancing Mobile Device. Now Where Am I Supposed to Use it?

by Craig Roth  |  March 8, 2012  |  3 Comments

A lot has been written about the importance of supporting an increasingly mobile workforce, specifically the kind that works off mobile devices while on the move.  Well, I’m working from Starbucks this morning to enjoy the rapid response, creativity, convenience, and productivity boost that we are told will result. 

One enabler of mobile work is the “consumption assumption” that says mobile workers will spend much more time consuming information than …

“… venti dark triple splenda …”

so more time consuming information than creating it.  That is probably true today, but I’m not sure about future needs. I’m typing this blog entry …

“Just so you know, the line goes around this way …”

on a laptop, but …

“Miss … the line is here …”

but mobile usage, uh, most mobile usage is expected to be on devices a little more sleek than a big boxy laptop.  Accordingly, the …

“not French fries, French PRESS”

so the … what was I going to say?  Oh yeah – the input mechanisms have adapted for consumption, not production.  But content has to be produced somewhere, so is that going to be only when people get back to the office?  Certainly there are some business tasks that are highly interruptible or very short, but …

“triple espressoooooo”

Only a thin slice of enterprise work is divisible into very short bursts and many people, like me, are not skilled at keeping focus in the midst of constant …

“adding cold soy … COLD SOY! … grande tepid soy latte …”

Anyways – mobile devices.  Yeah.  So there’s a new iPad 3 huh?  HD and  quad-core and 4G-LTE.  That will be neat.  I haven’t bought an iPad, but once the price point hits …

“They’re sooo TENDER!”

That’s it! I gotta get out of here to actually complete a long-running task (namely, this blog entry).  The constant interruptions to my thought patterns are counterproductive at this point.  Working memory is critical to complex …


OK, I’m back at my desk now.  Phew!  You know, I hear a lot more about what people can do on their mobile devices and how the device management will function then where people are expected to do all this work.  I would have been just as distracted at an airport, hotel lobby, dentist’s waiting room, or taxi. 

I can understand the productivity boost for mobile transactional workers (like delivery people or nurses) and hoteling offices (or working from hotel rooms for that matter).  But I think that the excitement consumers have for being able to do a quick email check or game while in line doesn’t fully transfer to much of what information workers need to do.

We’re coming up with new mobile devices much more quickly than we’re coming up with new places to use them.  And the best designers are applying themselves to designing the devices, not designing environments conducive to their use.  Case in point – that Starbucks was closed last week for a total redesign that provided more seating and outlets, but the distractions are still grande – or is that venti?

(Note: all quotes here are real and were spoken at this Starbucks during the 20 minutes I was writing this post.  Of course, I could have written it in 5 without the distractions.  The worst part is, I don’t even like coffee.)

Category: fun  mobile  

Craig Roth
Managing Vice President: Communication, Collaboration, and Content
4 years at Gartner
25 years IT industry

Craig Roth is a vice president and service director for Gartner Research, in Burton Group's Collaboration and Content Strategies service. Mr. Roth covers a wide range of knowledge and Web-related topics at the intersection of collaboration, content… Read Full Bio

Thoughts on Got My Productivity-Enhancing Mobile Device. Now Where Am I Supposed to Use it?

  1. Jack Santos says:

    Starbucks (and any coffee shop) is my most favorite place to get stories for plays I write…I find that to be true with many budding playwrights, and its often the first homework assignment for intro writing class. So be careful what you say while there. And… did you have a diffuser on that laptop screen for privacy? Ha! more material!

  2. Heidi Bartlett, Edelman says:

    I found this blog very clever, demonstrating a key point about the difficulty of being productive when constantly interrupted. It also points out that although workers are expected to be online and available more often due to mobile connectivity, the quality of that availability may be disrupted due to these constant interruptions. Very entertaining!

  3. Craig Roth says:

    I think this is somewhat Starbucks-specific since they have this call-and-response process between the cashier and the barrista that broadcasts everyone’s order and sets a more talkative tone. But of course any coffee shop will have its distractions. That’s why I drink tea – it’s more productive.

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