A Publication of WTVP

Everybody wants a Dick Tracy-like device. The ability to untether your workforce using wireless technology has great appeal. Mobile solutions are being used today for everything from fleet management and monitoring to shop floor incident tracking, from order placement to product pricing, and from inventory checking to simple e-mail and messaging services. Mobile solutions are not only efficient, but elegant and hip to most corporate users.

Aside from being chic, mobile applications can give an enterprise competitive advantage by making it more responsive to customer questions and more agile through improved workflow. Mobility can make employees more productive as they move from 9-to-5 in the office to 24/7 anywhere. The numbers are there: a 30 percent reduction in call center traffic, a 20 percent increase in dispatch efficiency, and a 15 percent increase in field technician efficiency. The bottom line is that mobility is one of the hottest trends in business today.

Before you jump on the wireless bandwagon, you may want answers to a few questions. Who are the major players? What are the business issues? How do you choose the right technology? Which questions should you be asking? If there was ever a time to look before you leap, mobility is it, so here are our beliefs on a short list of topics you might want to consider before going forward with your mobility plan. Please keep in mind that the categories are interdependent; decisions in one area will definitely affect one or more of the other areas.

If your staff can benefit from having e-mail, calendaring, data, applications, and alerts wherever they go, you may want to investigate mobility solutions. Most organizations look at the business needs first-such as, do we have departments like service operations, sales, or customer service that need access to data and applications wherever they are?

The next step is to select the products and architecture for your business.

Many businesses are far too concerned with one device or another when, in fact, over a short period of time, you'll likely have an environment with several devices, operating systems, and protocols. Therefore, you require a heterogeneous strategy of what applications are needed in the field and how you build for inter-operability so you have consistent use and, most importantly, security for your organization.

In the strategy, you'll also need a carrier that has strong market dominance and solid underlying technology. A key decision point will be whether you go with a proprietary technology or an open source shared amongst vendors.

Those who plan the best and involve some outside expertise can be very successful. Our executive team is living and breathing the mobility solutions, and we've been able to extend the day for the most important items and promote faster turnaround for our clients. In the end, that's really the investment you're making-for your customers' benefit. IBI