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What’s on Your Mind Opinions Portable technologies There’s no question that travel is a component of everyone’s job. While on the road, portable tools that replace brick-and-mortar systems are a necessity. According to one statistic, there are more than 130 million handhelds and notebooks in use today, and by 2005 there will be 250 million. And the available options are almost as numerous. PharmaVOICE asked what portable technologies have provided the best business solutions while on the go? Responsiveness is key In today’s competitive environment, we have to be very responsive to not only our clients’ needs but also our employees’ needs. We have 1,000 employees whose needs range from personal payroll to client-related matters. We view each as a valuable customer and want to always be responsive. One simply can’t achieve a high level of responsiveness without mobile computing and communication capabilities, particularly when there is so much interaction based on clients’ Web systems, time reporting, etc. I have found that with my constant travel schedule, wireless notebook PC capabilities combined with Blackberry communications provides very nearly a virtual office wherever I may be. Michael Hlinak Chief Operating Officer/CFO MedFocus Inc. From theory to practice On a recent trip to London to work out the details of our new international network of advertising agency partners, I found it quite easy to conduct business through my IBM ThinkPad laptop and a cell phone. I used the Internet access line in my hotel room and also accessed some e-mail at the sites of our agency partners from their desktop computers. Some U.S. cell phones can work in Europe, but mine didn’t. So I rented Verizon’s International Traveler Service, which was great and not super expensive. (Though I may feel differently after I actually see the bill.) In the past decade or so, there’s been so much talk about our global economy, but it really brings it down from the theoretical to the practical level when you can seamlessly conduct business and answer e-mails and phone calls in London from American clients. Now it’s easier than ever to work real-time, 24/7 – even from halfway across the world. Susan Hempstead Principal, Account Services Stratagem Healthcare Communications La Vida Loca I have a love-hate relationship with my mobile technology. My PDA does e-mail and is also a global mobile phone. When it works it keeps me connected, informed, and dare I say entertained. But when it doesn’t, I wish hateful things on it. For example, on a recent trip to Germany I was not able to make calls. Years ago this wasn’t a problem, but now everyone expects you can, and will, be in constant contact. Another example, on a recent trip to London my laptop completely crashed. My whole world was trapped inside a silver tomb – no paper files to keep me going, just a very expensive paper-weight. I was lucky to have a pen and a pad. My best friend is my iPod. It holds my music (to calm me when all other gadgets fail) and also holds my Spanish and French lessons. Not that I’ll ever learn the languages due to the constant e-mailing and phone calling – “la vida loca” for the business traveler of today. Ken Ribotsky President Ribotsky Worldwide Inc. Beyond the laptop For me, the best portable option is my laptop computer. But gaining in importance is Handspring’s Treo – a cell phone, PDA, and Blackberry combination. I may only need my laptop in the hotel from now on. Gordon L. Ryerson Managing Director Crosstree Capital Partners Home away from home I use a digital address book extensively when traveling. I carry about 500 names and info on industry contacts. It is inexpensive and invaluable. I had a couple of scares when the batteries ran out, but was able to capture data because of a redundant system. These data also are structured to download into my PC, a must for me. Airport check-in has made carrying a laptop a little more bothersome, but it is well worth the time. This is my home away from home. It creates a seamless contact with the office and clients. I would not be without it. And a great benefit is that it is a conduit to family and friends. My cell phone is with me in the office and on the road. In addition, I have an enhancement that allows me to take photos for fun and business. This let’s me show my family where I have landed. My small phone has more power combined than the old Brownie Camera, rotary phone, and wave transmitter. David M. McCarty Torre Lazur McCann The little details I am an early adopter and switched to the phone/Palm combination in 2001. I currently use the Kyocera Smartphone and will soon buy either the new Kyocera or move to a Blackberry/phone combination as soon as our IT people can figure out how to transfer my corporate e-mails through the dial-up service. I really like the auto-dialer function and the synced-calendar option. Bill Hahn VP, Marketing and Business Development Shaw Science Partners Inc. Mobile abilities I use a mobile phone and a Palm (currently, Tungsten C) every day; a laptop, much less frequently. It is unfortunate that my wireless carrier does not support Palm’s integrated phone model, otherwise I would have one of those. The new Tungsten C is a huge improvement over the Palm Vx because of the amount of data it can store and the format it uses. I now use Act for Palm, which enables me to see contact information for the names in my database and the last five notes that I entered. I now have more informed conversations out of the office without carrying a laptop or pages of notes. R. Bradford Mills Corporate Managing Director Julien J. Studley Inc.