Wireless One: Some Nasty Wireless Mistakes To Avoid

Don't let their small size fool you. Adding wireless access is easy to botch if you don't mind the details.
NEW YORK--Maybe it's the size and seeming simplicity of mobile devices, but some companies that are deploying handhelds skimp on project preparation and training. At a panel discussion today at the Wireless One conference, industry insiders discussed tactical mistakes IS departments are making on the way to wireless access.

Choosing the wrong device is one of the biggest mistakes, says David LaFaire, director of business intelligence for Cotelligent Inc., a wireless application service provider and consulting company. Too many execs let a fancy device with a nice green screen dictate deployment.

"Choose mobile devices based on the applications you'll be providing to your workforce," he says, and make sure IT staff fully understand how people will use the devices. Some basic questions are not being asked, such as: What's a device's average battery life and how rugged does it need to be?

Wireless apps need to be customized, too, in order to take advantage of legacy systems. That can be a costly mistake, LaFaire says. IS departments can end up spending more time and money trying to rebuild business processes after the fact.

Even some companies covering those bases bobble deployment, though. In an effort to cut costs and get employees using wireless devices and apps quickly, companies can overlook training. "Anytime you add a new process to your enterprise, you need to educate your workforce," LaFaire says.

Training a mobile workforce is critical, says Chris Wais, director of alliance development with Convergys. "You expect to gain productivity, but really you end up losing it because employees are busy trying to learn."