Craig said that 802.11n will be the breakthrough technology for mobility from the Wi-Fi side of the market, once it's finally ready for prime time. On the mobility front, I said the proliferation of smartphones had been the defining trend for 2007 and that location promised to be the big application for 2008.
After discussing the market, we polled our audience about their mobility plans for the new year. First, we asked them what kinds of applications they were evaluating. Much to my surprise, the majority of the room (roughly 54%) said they were looking at mobile business applications beyond push e-mail. For those of you out there who think the business mobility market has no future, well, think again.
Next, we asked the audience were they stood with regard to 802.11n. Not shockingly, the majority of those in the room said they were still waiting for the 802.11n standard to be ratified before they deployed 802.11n in their organizations.
It seems we've been waiting on 802.11n for years now, and we may be waiting for a bit longer, too.
After the opening Q&A and poll questions, I kicked off the first session of MBX, "Mobility In The Verticals: Three Takes On Wireless."
My panelists included Dennis Pappas, director of international service at Cytyc, now part of Hologic; Joe Rymsza, president and CEO, Vettro; Jorge Matta, information systems manager at Los Angeles Valley College; and Juan Mendez, director of information technology and telecommunications, Allmed Services.
The panel focused on mobility in three vertical industries: Financial services, health care, and higher education. We drilled down into the specific challenges faced in each vertical, extracting useful tips for IT managers in these markets looking to increase their mobile deployments.
Dennis Pappas and Juan Mendez tackled the health care industry. In health care, regulations like HIPAA and international regulations are determining issues. All deployments must meet all regulatory standards. As for applications, mobile CRM and ERP are dominant.
Dennis Pappas stressed that IT managers in health care need to pay attention to process and to know the demands of their processes before attempting to deploy more mobile applications.
Joe Rymsza covered the mobility needs for financial services organizations. Security is the top concern for financial services institutions. Rymsza said that BlackBerry has emerged almost as the de facto standard for mobile for most financial services companies.
IT managers in this market need to be able to make sure that lost or stolen devices can be remotely wiped clean. They must be able to rapidly detect stolen devices and protect data before it's stolen.
Another key trend in financial services is IT service management, including field technical service. This technology allows field workers to make repairs and manage trouble tickets from their smartphones.
Jorge Mata addressed the mobility needs of higher education. For most colleges and universities on-campus mobility -- i.e., Wi-Fi -- is the biggest technology. But unlike health care or financial services, colleges and universities have to manage network access for students who use their own devices, including different types of notebooks and dual-mode smartphones. In one anecdote, Mata shared that he had to start managing iPhones the day after they hit the streets.
Mata said that he used technologies like captive portals to manage students and faculty on the campus network. The captive portals allowed Mata and his team to sort different levels of application access to different users based on their role in the college (student vs. faculty or staff) or the types of applications the users need.
Our audience raised questions about mobilizing in different countries. Pappas and Rymsza stressed that any IT manager looking to launch international mobile applications needed to work through carriers in different countries to make it happen. The real enablers or bottlenecks -- depending on how the IT manager makes the decision for success with international access lies with the carrier relationships and the devices the IT managers select, not with the applications themselves.
"Do not scrimp on the mobile device," said Pappas, when questioned about which smartphones to select.
I want to thank my panelists and our attendees at Mobile Business Expo and Interop for a great session this morning. I look forward to the rest of today's sessions.