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


Corporate buying power will promote standards that will change how mobile data works.
Until recently, wireless data services from U.S. carriers offered poky performance at breathtaking cost. But competition and upgraded cellular networks mean new services providing raw wireless access speeds at up to double the performance of dial-up.

But carriers still have a long way to go to provide the kind of services and support that IT needs. To date they have done little more than focus on consumers, marketing offerings like ring tone downloads and digital photography, while ignoring ITs requirements for services that make it easier to manage a wide range of mobile devices. "The challenge is that most of the carriers have been largely set up to deal with consumers," says IDCs Waryas. However, some carriers claim that is changing, if slowly. "Today, the behavior is really consumer-oriented," admits Bruce Friedman, group director of mobile computing services at Sprint Corp. "[But] as you see more companies become corporate sponsors of these devices, thats going to drive different behavior" on the part of carriers.

Carriers are also coming to understand—if slowly—that they need to offer more services to help manage the mobile computing flood and reduce ITs costs of delivering useful applications to increasingly powerful devices. That includes providing software to help IT departments avoid technologically unnatural acts with mobile devices. "Taking your Siebel application and pushing it down to a two-inch screen is an abysmal failure," warns Sprints Friedman. To help standardize communications between the enterprise and its mobile users, Sprint recently rolled out a bundle of software and services thats designed to provide easier access to business applications using secure Web services.

"Whats happening is CIOs want standardization for their communications services, whether its wireless or wireline, just like they have for computing systems," says Kneko Burney, chief market strategist for customer and service-provider markets at researcher In-Stat/MDR. "When you have the major providers coming into the market, particularly now, it means that some standards are going to appear."

But dont expect changes overnight. As users gobble up camera phones and connected PDAs, the big money for the carriers will still be in the consumer market for the foreseeable future. That means the carriers will have to provide the kinds of services that corporations want to put serious money into. "Theres still going to be some work ahead for providers to really add some tangible value to business customers," says In-Stats Burney.

Ask Your It Architect:
  • What services could we provide users if we had better bandwidth and software interfaces? Ask Your Business Users:
  • What would you like to do with mobile data devices that you cant do today?
    Ask Your Carriers:
  • How can you help us provide better access to our critical applications? Next page: Viewpoint.

    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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