The most-used service or feature of such a device remains by far the voice feature, but when it comes to CEOs, mobile internet access for mail reading and file sharing is essential. Even though the majority of company managers in Romania acknowledge and recognize the necessity of gadgets in their everyday lives, the traditional ways of getting the message across, like pen and paper, are not obsolete yet. Peter Craig Martin, general manager of Howard Johnson Grand Plaza, prefers traditional means of communication and when it comes to new technologies and gadgets, “I go out of my way not to use any,” he said. His hotel offers its clients use of the latest technological developments with high speed internet access in all rooms. But for Martin, “paper and pencil will still be here in a thousand years and no gadget can supplant that.”
The amount and type of gadgets owned by managers vary from one industry to another, as well as by the number of business trips they have to take.
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There are long stretches of layover time at airports, lonely hotels and exhausting periods spent in transit.
But more than ever, loads of gadgets and new technologies can equip CEOs to deal with nearly every contingency, be it personal or business.
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Bogdan Constantinescu, general manager of Cisco Romania and Republic of Moldova, has three gadgets that he frequently uses, out of necessity mainly: a cell phone, a notebook and an iPod. “The Samsung 600i phone I use both for phone calls as well as for mobile mailing, which is more and more necessary and useful,” said Constantinescu.
The other two gadgets are an IBM T60 notebook and the latest fashion for music fans, the iPod from Apple.
“The iPod I use not only for listening to music, but also for business podcasts,” the Cisco manager added.
The e-mail feature seems to be among the most-used and desired capabilities of the gadgets. Maurizio De Dominicis, Ericsson country manager for Romania and Moldova, uses a PDA phone and an iPod for music.
“Features like electronic agenda, with e-mail are my favorite, all synchronized with my PC in the office and the navigator, but no Romanian maps are available yet. All this is in the telephone of course. It's like having my small office and assistant always with me,” De Dominicis said.
In terms of brand for his phone, the Ericsson manager stays true to the company using a P1i Sony Ericsson.
The technologies that matter most to CEOs depend on the industry they're in. In the online industry the internet connection is what matters most.
Calin Fusu, general manager and one of the founders of Neogen, is not interested in the latest developments in mobile devices, but more in the content the devices can make accessible for him. “A BlackBerry is all I have, if this can even be considered a gadget. As the only one I have, it is also my favorite, and it was around EUR 300,” Fusu said.
The traffic jams and friendly disputes make him use the internet explorer feature of his device frequently.
“I'm surfing the internet when I'm caught in traffic jams in Bucharest, moreover, when I have disputes with friends of mine, we immediately search for the answer on Wikipedia,” Fusu said. He does not change his device too often, “I'm more interested of the data and information they provide than the hardware itself.”
Dimitris Blatsios, general manager of Germanos Romania, changes cell phones once a year, without being faithful to a single brand. Digital cameras, mp3 player and a notebook also play a part in his daily activity.
“Although I am working in a high-tech environment, I am more of a traditional person,” he says. “I normally use only the voice and SMS features.”
The BlackBerry and cell phone are also the preferred gadgets of UPC Romania's general manager, Richard Anderson. “My favorite gadget is my cell phone, which was around EUR 500,” he said. Besides voice, its most-used feature is the daily planner.
For Nikolaos Tsolas, CEO of Cosmote Romania, the mobile phone is a must.
“The most important gadget in a working day, for me, is the mobile phone and I believe that this applies to all businessmen and women. I also use hands-free devices, as they allow me to have a conversation over the phone and concentrate at the same time on other business activities,” Tsolas said.
Betting on his firm's data service, Tsolas explains, “Business users like myself benefit from the e-mail application, on-line stock exchange transactions, international news and financial data, but also enjoy access to information about sports, news, entertainment, weather and maps. Other useful features for me are the calendar, the storage capacity of the phone book and the option to synchronize the contacts I have stored in the phone with the ones on my computer.”
In terms of updating gadgets, the majority of managers prefer to get the most out of their devices, changing them when they break or an innovative feature appears on the market.
“I am pretty conservative when it comes to changing devices. I usually try to use these tools, which I don't really consider to be gadgets, as much as possible in order to make the most use of a device I know and understand very well,” said Constantinescu of Cisco Romania.
Taking a different approach, Anderson from UPC prefers to periodically change his devices once every two years, and De Dominicis changes phones whenever a new model with better features becomes available on the market.
Analysts say that gadgets like PDAs and BlackBerries help managers understand the power of getting closer to customers, keeping their fingers on the pulse of their culture, looking at new market opportunities, getting quick feedback to know what is working and being able to adjust when it's not.
That is why the amount of devices on the market that target corporate customers increase from one month to another, as revealed by sales reports.