Have you heard the term "Information Worker" recently? Microsoft has begun to define solutions and technologies specifically focused on the Information Worker. Let's look at what that term means, then take a global view of the solutions that Microsoft is developing for the Information Worker. Specifically, let's see how those solutions interact with the mobile and wireless arena.

The term Information Worker describes any person in the enterprise who actively participates in information flow or business processes. This definition encompasses many individuals--for example, sales personnel managers, line of business (LOB) directors--who deal with crucial information and decisions. Obviously, mobile and wireless solutions play a key role in any organization's flow of information.

Microsoft's Information Worker solutions have an initial foundation in the Microsoft Office 2003 system, which is currently in beta 2 and is scheduled for release in late summer. The Information Worker solutions include traditional Office applications, as well as new Office applications such as OneNote, InfoPath, Windows SharePoint Services, SharePoint Portal Server, and Windows Rights Management.

OneNote lets you effectively capture, organize, and share notes--for example, from meetings. Mobile scenarios involving OneNote are compelling, especially considering the Tablet PC platform, but OneNote will also benefit desktop and laptop users, who will be able to engage in effective communication with mobile users. For more information about OneNote, see the following URL. http://www.microsoft.com/office/preview/onenote/default.asp

InfoPath concerns forms automation with XML. InfoPath lets users capture and store information into an XML document that appears in a simple InfoPath forms interface. The product's primary selling point is that both technical and nontechnical users can easily create forms. After creating and publishing InfoPath documents, users can use them for timesheet entry, expense reporting, and other types of forms functionality. Users can store InfoPath documents locally on a Tablet PC or other device until the documents are completed, so the user doesn't need to be connected to the network or intranet to enter data. Mobile users can use InfoPath documents to capture and store information in the field, then submit after completing the forms. For more information about InfoPath, go to the following URL. http://www.microsoft.com/office/preview/infopath

Another new Office 2003 feature is integrated support for XML in Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel. When you create a document in earlier versions of Word and Excel, the data in the document is essentially an isolated island of data. The only way to access and share this data is to email or copy the entire document. To reuse certain information, users typically must resort to cut-and-paste functionality. XML support now lets users easily access Word and Excel information and share it among other users, including mobile and wireless field users.

The theme of the Information Worker/Office 2003 system is that users can easily capture, interact with, and share enterprise information much more easily than with previous Office versions. As you might guess, many of the mobile and wireless concepts that you've read about in past issues of this UPDATE are key components of the Information Worker's milieu. In my next Mobile & Wireless Perspectives, I'll continue this discussion of the mobile and wireless aspects of the Office 2003 system and the Information Worker.