Mobility is definitely one of the key themes of 2006. Most IT executives I work with say their companies have put "mobility strategies" in place this year. That's a dramatic shift from just a year ago, when companies typically saw mobility as an afterthought. What's an effective mobility strategy?Mobility is definitely one of the key themes of 2006. Most IT executives I work with say their companies have put "mobility strategies" in place this year. That's a dramatic shift from just a year ago, when companies typically saw mobility as an afterthought.What's an effective mobility strategy?First, an effective strategy takes an inclusive approach to technology. Mobility isn't a box, feature or service. It comprises a constellation of technologies, including wireless handheld devices, mobile applications, wireless networks, VoIP over Wi-Fi and possibly RFID. Virtual and collaborative technologies such as presence and instant messaging, which enable remote workers to be more productive, are also critical to most mobility initiatives.Mind-set is also key. Many enterprises still think of mobility as a perk, not a productivity tool - and that's a mistake. Managers too often see BlackBerries and Treos as status symbols, or balk at wirelessly enabling the "low-level" retail clerks, manufacturing workers and medical personnel who can most benefit. Or they'll veto "pricey" virtual and collaborative tools despite their proven ability to reduce costs and increase productivity.An effective mobility strategy should take a comprehensive look at the way employees can benefit from greater flexibility, decreased documentation work and ability to respond in real time. This is particularly true when it comes to the rank-and-file folks who handle the day-to-day work in most organizations.To ensure your company gets the most bang for the buck from its mobility strategy, here's a short set of recommendations:The first step is to carefully assess business requirements. Seek scenarios in which the core business function is done away from computer- and phone-equipped desktops - these are the best candidates for mobility. Hospital, retail sales and manufacturing floors are all good examples. Any time a worker is freed up to focus on actual work (rather than record keeping or redundant data entry) translates directly to hard-dollar productivity gains.Combine with convergence. An effective mobility strategy encompasses voice and video as well as data, and often includes presence and unified messaging capabilities.Lose the "luxury" mind-set. Stop thinking of PDAs as status symbols. They're productivity tools, and the hard-dollar benefits should prove it. A single timely e-mail can clinch a critical sales deal - and pay for PDA-enabling the entire salesforce several times over.Be alert for the ability to streamline business processes. Untethered workers often uncover new and creative ways to do their jobs better. They may eliminate redundant data entry, or more effectively implement just-in-time inventories. Keeping an open communications channel ensures these good ideas become standard operating procedure.