Are you a crackberry?

Attend any meeting with middle and senior management and you’ll quickly become accustomed to the sound of vibrating handhelds like the RIM two-way messaging device Blackberry as incoming e-mail messages literally fill the air. Many users lament that, although liberating in one sense, such devices still keep you tethered to your desk: you always seem to be working, up to 24 hours a day.

Despite the drawbacks, however, many users are quite attached to their handhelds to the point that new colloquial expressions are becoming common. Here’s are a few targeted at the Blackberry:

• Crackberry. Refers to the addictive nature of Blackberry (and other handheld devices).

• The Blackberry prayer. The subtle bowing pose of Crackberry addicts as they surreptitiously use their handhelds during meetings

• Blackberry thumb. A condition caused by overuse of Blackberries or similar handhelds, in which users experience strained thumbs from repetitive and excessive typing

The sheer number of devices in use by various government organizations points to the need for greater control by IT executives. To the public sector senior manager, the policing that is perhaps most needed is in the distribution and use of mobile computing devices. Policy is required on two fronts: Investments and usage.

Investment policy

Federal departments have recently been directed to shave millions off of their IM/IT budgets as part of an expenditure review exercise. The process has led many to understand that they are maintaining a variety of tools that in many cases are performing the same function.

Consider the costs associated with mobile computing.

Rapid technology convergence challenges IT shops to keep abreast of changing technologies. Managers need to consider exactly what tools their mobile staff requires – and exactly who their mobile staff are.

Usage Policy

Cell phone etiquette has gradually won over within government; seldom do cells interrupt meetings. How about handhelds? Senior managers should ask themselves how many times they have made presentations to an audience of bowed heads as people read, compose and send e-mail messages. Are these messages more important to these people than what you have to say?

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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