Execs on Vacation: Unplugged?

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An admitted workaholic, Marie Hatter, vice president borderless network marketing at Cisco, is on a perpetual hunt to find a vacation spot where she can unplug. Even during a recent Disney cruise in the Caribbean with her family, access to pervasive Wi-Fi fed her digital habit. She’s not alone. Her husband wants to find that ideal getaway location more than she does. The Hatters aren’t atypical of most business executives who keep a digital finger on the pulse of the office while on vacation.
In fact, according to a recent survey from Intermedia, a cloud services provider, most U.S. workers stay connected to the office when on vacation. Not only are workers checking into the office during their well-earned vacation time, but 71% of respondents agree it’s appropriate to contact them while on vacation.


iPad for BusinessWhen it comes to plugging in or not plugging in to the office when on vacation, “It’s about choice,” says Hatter, who goes nowhere without her Blackberry, Apple iPad, and LenovoThinkPad and/or MacBook Air notebook computers.

Jacquelyn Devin, business continuity manager, Sun Life Financial, an international financial services company with more than 14,000 employees worldwide, agrees.

“Sun Life strongly encourages its employees to take vacation time and unplug from the office,” says Devin, who owns up to the fact that her personal work ethic drives her to check email on her Blackberry, twice a day when on vacation. She’s also outfitted with her Lenovo ThinkPad.

“I’m of the mindset that if I can diffuse a potential problem, I’m going to make that effort even if I’m on vacation,” she says. Devin is responsible for domestic as well as international continuity programs including crisis management, business continuity planning and risk assessment in locations such as Ireland, India, Canada and Bermuda.

Today, a smart phone, tablet computer and/or notebook are standard issue for most business executives. “Given their role and responsibilities, it’s impossible for high-level executives to completely disconnect, even when on vacation,” says John Reed, director, Robert Half Technology, a professional staffing firm.

More importantly, the hassle factor is no longer there. It’s easy to connect to voice mail, email, the Internet, and the cloud whether in the office or on the move via mobile broadband or Wi-Fi.

Connections Everywhere
Today, most laptop or notebook vendors offer integrated, or embedded, 3G/4G, to allow users to tap into the cellular networks. In-Stat is forecasting that USB cellular modem shipments are expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17.6% from 2011 through 2015, while modems in mobile internet devices (MIDs)/tablets will grow at a CAGR of 160% over the same forecast period. At the same time, expect to see the number of mobile hotspots increase until 2014.

free Wi-FiWith lots of vendors, including the carriers, offering cellular modems, either a card or USB stick, for laptop computers, getting online is easy. 3G/4G mobile Mi-Fi hotspot devices (routers) are also helping travelers stay connected wherever and whenever.

The Wi-Fi Alliance, boasts more than 750,000 Wi-Fi Zone locations, or hotspots, worldwide, and expects that number to more than double by 2014. Carriers, like AT&T and Verizon, for example, are no doubt paying homage to Wi-Fi as it enables these mobile broadband carriers to off-load their increasingly traffic burdened networks.

Email Not a Problem
“Everyone can take five minutes to check their email without feeling like it takes away from their vacation,” says Connie Thanasoulis-Cerrachio, career expert with Vault.com, a provider of information and solutions for those pursuing or managing a professional career, who admits she uses her Blackberry to check emails 1-2x/day while on vacation. “I owe it to my family to have fun with them and I also want to make sure my business is running smoothly,” she says.

Email appears to be the favored form of communication while on vacation, according to Intermedia’s survey. 32% of survey respondents preferred email, followed by 20% preferring calling, while only 18% of respondents were agreeable to text messaging.

Cisco CiusCisco’s AnyConnect VPN Client, which provides a secure connectivity tunnel to the corporate network is a popular security client among enterprise customers. The AnyConnect Secure Mobility Client is compatible across a broad range of PC, smart phones and tablets such as Apple’s iPad and the vendor’s own Cisco Cius Android messaging tablet.

In the rare circumstances where good pre-vacation planning can’t avert the need to hop onto a web conference call to join meetings, presentations, and share documents, businesses often turn to Cisco’s WebEx that includes a mobile version for laptops, Android devices, iPhones and iPads.

More work-focused business vacationers can also choose from a host of online and mobile productivity tools such as Microsoft Office, Google’s app suite, enterprise CRM software such as Salesforce, and, Zoho, another popular online software choice, for collaboration, business, and productivity apps.

Today, when it comes to taking a vacation, recharging your batteries has taken on a whole new meaning.


Summer Executive Tech 2011






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