by Charlie Gillette
“We’ve moved to wireless PDAs, phones enabled with web browsers, and PDA/phone combinations. Unfortunately most handhelds are vastly underused — leveraged only as digital copies of calendars and address lists that are synchronized with heftier computers or network systems.”
Surprisingly, the majority of the United States’ work force does not sit at desks. They move around a factory, they drive a vehicle, they stand on a sales floor, they visit places. To capture knowledge and deliver information to these places of work, corporations have to start moving beyond the desk.
To meet this demand increasing numbers of workplaces are leveraging handhelds, often wireless, to do single-function tasks, such as inventory or sales. The range of devices is inspiring and dynamic. We’ve moved to wireless PDAs, phones enabled with web browsers, and PDA/phone combinations. Unfortunately most handhelds are vastly underused — leveraged only as digital copies of calendars and address lists that are synchronized with heftier computers or network systems.
The handheld market has great potential as the $4.6 billion handheld market continues to grow. According to Gartner Research, more than 20 million PDA’s have been sold in just over five years and tech companies are investing in products geared to the fast-growing handheld market. Sales of handheld computers, such as personal digital assistants and portable email devices, are expected to grow 44% from 2002 to 2004, according to Gartner Dataquest.
In anticipation of this perceived demand, manufacturers have pinned their hopes on corporations buying the devices in bulk to outfit their staff with a powerful means to take work on the road, allowing them to communicate remotely with their offices. In addition, PC-focused companies are attempting to capitalize on the growing market by stepping-up investments in wireless products. Now it seems everyone is just waiting for progress surrounding wireless PDA, Pocket PC and Pocket PC phone technologies.
There is a great need for corporations to break through the calendar/address book threshold and impart new technologies that can significantly improve productivity. In response, companies like Knowledge Anywhere have created new ways for corporations to facilitate flexible content display via wireless devices like the Pocket PC and Pocket PC phone.
With connectivity on demand or always on, it is now possible to create a fine-grained and rich learning environment when and where it’s convenient. Knowledge Anywhere does this by augmenting text with voice, video, animation, and interaction for use on these devices. The true power of this blended learning concept and resulting service shows that even with limited connectivity we can determine a learning path and immediately provide knowledge, and improve the learning experience for mobile users.
To the extent that companies know the user, context, device, and need, it is now possible to empower our customers to deliver: the right information -to the right person -on the right device – in the right way – at the right time – in the right context.
To execute this vision, we started with a content model that provides system-comprehensible representations and user-navigable access. We create the content in a delivery-independent way, separating content from format for flexible delivery independent of the particular device.
What are the ways in which we might use this capability? One of the obvious ideas is to deliver traditional learning through these devices. We can channel corporate materials through any combination, with text, graphics, audio, and potentially even video. This allows mobile workers to access to crucial information, as they need it. For instance, a sales person could access information on the latest product line while riding in a taxi on the way to a client meeting.
Another opportunity is to provide training about the device, on the device. Knowledge Anywhere recently deployed a mobile learning solution for client AT&T Wireless giving hundreds of their field sales reps to access new product information surrounding the new Pocket PC phone. Another way to use the device is as an augment to more traditional learning. Knowledge Anywhere has created this capability for client Dade Behring International, by connecting the classroom with the instructor via the Pocket PC. Students can be polled about their understanding and the instructor can alter the presentation based upon those results.
New device capabilities drive new opportunities. We need to move beyond traditional content creation and learning management to think of standards-based development, intelligent system support, and creative applications. The additional elements needed are creative vision that moves us beyond the traditional ways we use technology. The capability is here, the possibilities are endless, our only boundary is imagination. [24×7]
Charlie Gillette is the president and CEO of Knowledge Anywhere and a veteran of senior sales and marketing positions with AT&T Wireless and Baxter Healthcare. At AT&T Wireless, Charlie lead successful Sales, Strategic Alliance, and System Engineering Teams. He holds a degree in finance from San Diego State University and has completed graduate-level studies in international business.
A former consultant for large companies as well as start-ups, Charlie still speaks publicly on such topics as e-learning and launching new technology in the marketplace.