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6/4/2004
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David Ewalt
David Ewalt
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The Pros And Cons Of Wireless Connectivity

For better or worse, the days of being tethered to your desk by cables and cords are gone.

For better or worse, the days of being tethered to your desk by cables and cords are gone. Mobile devices ranging from smart phones and PDAs to wireless-enabled laptops are changing the way the world works. Whether this is a good thing remains to be seen. Lack of a cable can mean lack of control, and, as any IT manager knows, every new device and protocol that enters a company creates new management challenges.

The jury still may be out on mobile technology. But so far, it seems the verdict is going to be positive. Nearly two-thirds of 100 business-technology professionals surveyed by InformationWeek's sister publication, Optimize, say that mobile technology has had a positive impact on their business, inspiring innovation or the improved exchange of ideas. Only a tiny fraction of those interviewed say that they've seen a negative impact, such as an overreliance on technology to serve customers.

Mobile PushMobile computing's most common, and perhaps most significant, benefit is the way it keeps people in touch. Businesses benefit from using cell phones to reach employees in the field or by having workers use wireless laptops to run applications on-site. A whopping 74% of survey respondents say they've seen increased communications and data sharing among employees. When you communicate better, you can get more work done; 64% say employees are more productive.

The challenges of mobile technology appear to be relatively modest. The most commonly cited drawback--an increased burden on the IT department--was cited by less than half of those surveyed. Only 39% of business-technology managers say they've had to deal with erratic or unsatisfactory service, and less than a quarter complain of cost overruns.

How is your company planning to mobilize this year? Let us know at the address below.

David M. Ewalt
Associate Editor
dewalt@cmp.com




Reported Payoffs

Which benefits has your company enjoyed from using mobile technologies?

When companies improve communications internally, the benefits often extend to business partners and clients. Three in five sites say mobile technology has improved customer service and satisfaction. More than half say mobile computing has resulted in better cooperation with partners; a quarter say they're able to respond better to changing market conditions.



Common Failings

Which challenges or disappointments has your company experienced because of its use of mobile technologies?

Mobile devices, if not managed responsibly, can pose a threat to business operations. Security dollars tend to be channeled to shoring up operating systems or containing virus or hostile-code attacks, while ensuring the safety of mobile technologies tends to be less of a priority. However, nearly one in five sites that Optimize surveyed attributes a security breach to a mobile device.



Change Maker

What impact has the use of mobile technology had on your company's corporate culture?

Improved technology, scalability with business applications, and the lower price of products and services might be the leading reasons companies are adopting mobile devices. And while most mobile-computing users say that it's having a positive impact on their corporate culture, a third of sites report no change. For these sites, the technology is just another thing to grow accustomed to and use.



Main Managers

Who's responsible for the management of mobile devices within your company?

The management of mobile devices is primarily the responsibility of IT executives. Business managers play less of a role, according to survey respondents. Forty-four percent report that their CIOs or senior IT executives oversee mobile initiatives. Eight percent say mobile directives are set by chief technology officers, while another 14% report that their IT managers have mobile technologies covered.

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