Smartphones will become essential business tools next year and wireless e-mail will become so important that employees will eventually be evaluated on how well they use the technology, market research firm Gartner predicted Wednesday.
Specifically, the firm predicted that more smartphones, which can be used for cellular voice and data and to manage personal information, will be shipped in 2006 than PDAs. PDAs will continue to play a role in the enterprise for use with mobilized applications, according to Gartner, but smartphones will be the device that most mobile users will use from day to day, according to the report.
The study said that it expected 20 million smartphones to ship in 2006 compared to about 13 million PDAs.
The study said that remote access to e-mail is rapidly becoming essential to most businesses. Specifically, it predicted that 80 percent of mobile workers will use wireless e-mail access by 2008.
"The speed at which staff respond to e-mails has a direct impact on organizations' success, now that, on average, a tenth of the messages that arrive each day need immediate action," according to the report. Workers with wireless access to e-mail can have more time to delete spam and prioritize they can cut their response times in half."
The speed taken to respond to important e-mails is becoming so important that many companies will start including it as a factor in employee evaluations, according to the predictions. That will result in fewer automated "out of office" replies and increase reliance on mobile e-mail products.
In other predictions, Gartner said: