Corporate South Africa regards the laptop computer as the single most necessary mobile technology for deployment in business, edging out even the cellular phone, while emerging technologies like handheld computers and wireless networking will see strong growth in 2005.

These were the key findings of a research study conducted by World Wide Worx as part of its Mobility 2005 project, which is backed by Cell C and First National Bank.

No less than 98% of corporations surveyed said they would have laptops deployed among staff during 2005, up from 94% in 2004. Cellular phones were a close second, with 93% intending to deploy among staff in 2005, compared to 91% in 2004.

Significant growth will be seen in the use of Personal Digital Assistants for calendar and contact purposes, up from 76% to 84% of corporations, and for e-mail purposes, up from 61% to 76%. 3G will come off a low base of 5% to reach 34% - one of the highest growth proportions, if relatively low in absolute take-up. Wireless networking will experience substantial growth, but bluetooth networking will continue to languish.

A fascinating element of corporate deployment of mobile technologies is the level in the business at which staff tend to be provided with cellular phones, PDAs and Laptop computers, compared to PCs. 62% of corporations surveyed provide cellphones to top management, and 40% supply them to sales or field staff, similar to the proportion of corporations supplying laptop computers to these levels of employee. PDAs go to top management among 37% of respondents, but to field staff among only 10% of respondents.