Enterprise Challenge: Managing Wireless and Mobile Devices

By Gary Bolles  |  Posted 2003-10-22 Print this article Print

A flood of new wireless devices are coming. Is your organization ready to integrate and support it all? We provide help and tips to keep you in front of the wireless wave. (CIO Insight) Wireless data options are about to explode. Stop thinking "cell phone" and start thinking "mobile terminal." Enticed by low initial costs and cool features, users are buying smarter and smarter phones and more talkative PDAs that allow them access to remote applications and more flexible ways to communicate.

But the dirty little secret of such devices isnt just the usual suspect of support headaches. Its the fact that most IT shops arent prepared to provide the business infrastructure—the management policies and cost controls—these devices demand. To meet that demand, IT must get busy now, before the wireless wave engulfs the enterprise. That means putting in place processes to allocate use and manage billing, then focusing on ways to simplify support costs.

Its easy to dismiss cell phones and PDAs today as low-tech gizmos that are beneath ITs dignity to manage. Get over it. As phones and handhelds continue their relentless march toward each other, the blurring lines of distinction mean that many mobile devices are already providing some flavor of wireless data and voice in the same box. That means more and more data will be moving from the Ethernet into the ether. Researcher IDC says sales of so-called smart phones alone will reach 30 million next year, and wireless handhelds could be more than half of the 40.6 million handhelds expected to ship in 2006, says Kenil Vora, an analyst at ABI Research.

When an otherwise unassuming cell phone or PDA—a growing number of which now come with a full keyboard—can do voice, instant messaging, e-mail and calendaring, and are powerful enough to pick up data from sales-force automation and other enterprise applications, the labels dont much matter anymore. In fact, Gartner Inc. simply calls them "mobile terminals," a mentality IT might want to consider adopting. Include in the mix laptops with Wi-Fi and wireless cards that operate over cellular networks, and you have the same recipe for grassroots user adoption that kick-started PC and LAN adoption, creating big pools of rogue IT that eventually had to be roped into the enterprise architecture. "It gets really scary for a lot of companies," says Keith Waryas, lead analyst for wireless business network services at IDC.

Ask Business Constituents:
  • Which mobile devices do you want your employees to use—and which dont you?
    Ask Your It Asset Manager:
  • How many data-capable wireless devices have our employees purchased?
    Ask Your It Asset Manager:
  • How many different device platforms do they represent? Next page: Strategy.

    Gary Bolles Gary A. Bolles is the Editorial Director for Ziff Davis Media's Custom Conference Group. He is responsible for directing the group's editorial efforts, ensuring the quality of the content it delivers, and moderating and speaking at client events. A frequent lecturer and keynote speaker on a variety of technology topics, he has hosted more than 50 events in the past year alone.

    Bolles was the founding Editor-in-Chief of Interactive Week, developing its unique vision, the founding editorial director of Sm@rt Reseller magazine, creating the publication from initial research, and the founding Editorial Director of Yahoo! Internet Life, managing its successful launch. Bolles was also the Editor-in-Chief of Network Computing Magazine, and for one year was the host of 'Working the Web' for TechTV, covering a wide variety of technology-related topics. Until recently, he was a contributing editor to CIO Insight, writing on a broad range of technology subjects, and assisting in the coordination of the publication's research efforts.

    Bolles is the former Chief Operating Officer of Evolve Software, Inc., and the former VP of Marketing for Network Products Corporation. He has served as a marketing consultant to a variety of organizations, and has advised a number of software startup companies in arenas such as online marketing and data mining.

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