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Executive Workstations Poised for Rapid Growth in the Office.

Even those professionals whose typing proficiency hovers around the "hunt-and-peck" level had best get their fingers prepared to do the walking over a keyboard before many more years, if projection in the flurry of reports from industry watchers and analysts come to pass in even modest proportions.

Executive workstations, intergrated voice/data terminals, or whatever they're called, from a growing number of suppliers, have been around for only a few years, but now appear poised on the brink of rapid proliferation. The ubiquitous personal computer is invading the office, as well as the home, and is playing a key role to lessen executives' fear of the keyboard.

Frost & Sullivan, the New York City--based research firm, feels that by 1990 the executive workstation will be as common in the office as the telephone is today. Its new report on "The Market for Professional/Executive Workstations" sees increasing demand for products at current technology rates, rather than new breakthroughs, driving the market from about $2.5 billion in current annual sales to nearly $7 billion in 1988 (in constant dollars).

A survey carried out in connection with the study supports the idea that the unwillingness of executives to use a keyboard is changing. It found that 25 percent of the respondents believed that their organizations will purchase at least 100 executive workstations over the next five years. The survey indicates that executives typically expect workstations to have graphic and electronic communication capability, to perform electronic mail service and to provide computaional/analytical support.

International Resource Development of Norwalk, Connecticut believes that "most vendors of integrated voice/data terminals (IVDTs) are completely missing the boat when it comes to targeting their users. They are making IVDTs for a mythical creature called 'Every Executive', and are overlooking the real-world white-collar workers who actually stand to gain the most in the shortest amount of time by using an IVDT."

Explaining IRD's new findings on IVDTs, researcher Joan de Regt says, "Executives and managers may not spend their time with telephones practically attached to their ears, but a certain breed of employees does--what we call the professional information manipulator. This person could be anyone from an account rep for Ameritech, to a reporter for the Los Angeles Times. They stand to gain a great deal by reducing 'telephone tag' having fingertip access to key data bases, and having the use of intelligent feature-phone functions combined with some computing capability. There are also many more of these individuals than there are executives, making them a more attractive 'target.'"

Yet another study, by Advanced Resources Development of Medfield, Massachusetts, points out that 1983 marked the first year in which shipments of integrated telephone/display terminals reached significant levels--more than 32,000 units at a value exceeding $43 million. It expects a further source of growth for the market to come from the recently announced entries of such firms as TeleVideo, Rolm, AT&T-IS, Sydis and AMBI (formerly Digital transactions).

It sees the present market consisting largely of low-end, non-intelligent terminals such as Northern Telecom's Displayphone, Tymshare's Scanset XL and GTE's ActionStation. ARD notes that these devices are marketed through two primary channels: as devices for access to public data bases and communications networks; and as high-end telephone devices in voice/data PBX networks. It sees the second largest segment of the integrated telephone/display market in the multi-function workstation segment, "currently dominated by Mitel, with its Kontact workstation, and Davoxm, with its Series 921 workstation." It says that these devices "will be particularly attractive to managers and executives who required both fully featured telephone devices and stand-alone data-processing devices."

ARD goes on to explain that a small segment at present consists of word processing stations with integrated telephones, such as the one from Basic Telecommunications. Need Clearer Applications

According to Mary Owen, director of ARD's Terminal Research Service, "although voice/display products have a tremendous potential for growth, we feel that much of this potential will be hampered by unclear target markets and applications. As these problems are overcome, shipments could skyrocket, but we don't expect to see that for at least five years. Until then, the major source of growth in this market will be application-specific sales, for data base access or along with voice/data communication networks." She predicts shipment levels to reach more than 200,000 units annually by 1986.

Venture Development Corporation of Wellesley, Massachussetts, in a new report on "CRT Phone Terminal Markets," sees a period of "extraordinary sales growth." VDC says that although the total installed base for these units was at 30,000 at the end of 1983, "total shipments for 1984 alone are expected to exceed 40,000, and nearly 200,000 of these devices will be in use by 1987."

According to VDC, this product is primarily aimed at professional and executive white-collar workers who do not necessarily need or want to use keyboard devices but who do need a personal communications instrument that's designed to access information rather than process it. VDC's figures estimate that Northern Telecom's Displayphone accounted for 43 percent of the shipments of these devices last year.

VDC's study also notes that most CRT phone shipments have been or generic units--those that operate with any phone system. But it expects this to change as units designed as front ends for particular PBX networks show the greatest growth in both unit shipments and revenues. By 1987, it says, shipments of CRT phone terminals for use with specific PBX systems will account for over 70 percent of total units shipments.

Another recent Venture Development study, "US Executive Workstation Markets--1983-1990," takes a somewhat broader view of workstations, predicting that shipments of advanced executive workstations will increase from 46,000 in 1983 to over half a million in 1990, an average annual growth rate of more than 40 percent. It says that unit shipments in each of the four product/market segments will vary in their growth patterns. Voice/data workstations for executives (vice president-level and above) will be the fastest-growing category, followed by sales of similar units for the middle-management market. VDC says sales of data-only executive workstations for middle managers will increase faster than sales of data-only executive workstations for executives.

VDC sees the growth in executive workstations being fueled by several factors. One is the interest in personal computers, which can also be viewed as a competitor to the workstations. VDC sees executive workstations benefiting from their position as "a friendly and flexible alternative to a personal computer." Another key factor in growth will be the availability of advanced communications capabilities, says VDC. In some cases, workstations even provide for voice communication. This can be an especially valuable feature addition given that executives and middle managers can spend as much as 50 percent of their time on the phone. Both voice mail and the ability to call up decision data while on the phone make phone time more productive."

According to VDC, "manufacturers of executive workstations are beginning to notice 'bandwagon' and 'filter-down' effects associated with this new product. The bandwagon effect is similar to keeping up with the Jones's. Once one executive has an executive workstation, other executives become interested." VDC says the results of a user survey found that once a company owns an executive workstation, the purchase rate of additional units is over 90 percent.

Whatever the reasons, these terminals in all their various configurations and capabilities are here, and chances are one's in your immediate future.
COPYRIGHT 1984 Nelson Publishing
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Copyright 1984 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Communications News
Date:Mar 1, 1984
Previous Article:U.S. Must Act Soon to Maintain Telecommunications Leadership.
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