In the early 1930s, a mathematician developed a formula that could be used to make accurate weather forecasts, something that was unheard of at that time. However, because there were no computers or calculators at that time, it took almost three months of hand calculations to come up with the next day’s forecast. This obviously was far from useful, and many individuals scoffed at such a preposterous solution to weather forecasting. However, with the introduction of computers by the late 1940s, the amount of time needed for the calculations was dramatically decreased. Suddenly, this model became very popular, and today it forms the basis for all weather forecasting. The point here is that it sometimes requires vision to see how an idea or technology could be used. This vision also applies to new technologies like wireless communications. Some users question why we should consider wireless technology when the existing wired system seems to work just fine. In this chapter, you will learn what it takes to convert the potential of wireless technology into a successful business reality. We’ll look at the steps needed to incorporate wireless technology into a business, and at the advantages and challenges that face business users who consider adopting this new technology. Advantages of Wireless Technology
The advantages of incorporating wireless technology into a business are far-reaching and can positively impact an organization in many ways. In addition to the advantages already discussed in this book—mobility of data access, easier network installation, increased reliability, and better disaster recovery—wireless technology provides business-specific advantages, including universal access to corporate data, increased productivity, ability for customers to access their own data, data availability around the clock, and improved information technology (IT) support.
In a survey prepared by the Wireless LAN Association in 2001 (WLANA—see www.wlana.org), 92% of companies that deployed wireless LANs found definite, measurable economic and business benefits. In another survey commissioned by Cisco in 2002, 87% of end-users responded that they believe WLANs improved their quality of life by increasing flexibility, productivity, and time savings. Forty-three percent of these believed this improvement was significant.
Universal Access to Corporate Data
The first advantage of wireless technology is that it provides access to corporate data from almost any location. This universal access can help a business generate more revenue. For example, a traveling sales representative calling on a customer needs the most current information at his fingertips before he walks in the door. He could review printouts in his hotel room the night before, but these are only as recent as the day they were printed. He could access the company’s corporate database from his hotel room that morning, but changes in inventory and sales will occur before his 2:00 P.M. appointment.
With wireless technology, the sales representative can use a WiMAX network—or his digital cellular telephone connected to his notebook—to access live data, such as the status of the customer’s most recent order, buying history, current inventory, and an up-to-the-minute competitor price list. This information is accessible before he steps out of his car for his appointment, or even while he is meeting with the customer. By having universal access to the latest data, the sales representative will be well prepared to make the sale.
Traveling sales representatives are not the only users who can benefit from universal access to corporate data. Anyone who needs to be mobile but needs access to data can benefit from it. Physicians who move around a hospital can have current data at their fingertips to make decisions that result in lower costs and improved care for patients. Factory managers likewise can access data as they...
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