Keeping a Rein on Wireless Networks
Until late last year wireless networking, despite a host of products and an ocean of hype about its value to businesses, was primarily a home computing phenomenon.
Security concerns kept many businesses from making the leap to wireless, according to reports from International Data Corp., which surveyed 12,000 information-technology specialists and found that 34% used wireless at home, while only 27% used it at work.
Tight corporate technology budgets, low bandwidth and a lack of manageability had at least as big a role, according to Greg Collins, senior director of research at Dell'Oro Group. However, the addition of features that allow network administrators as much control over a wireless network as a wired one has made corporations more willing to go wireless, as have improvements in security.
In late 2003, sales to businesses began a sharp climb. Companies now account for nearly 40% of all wireless sales and should soon pass 50%, Collins says.
Workers say convenience is the prime motivator, but increases in productivity are a better justification, according to Tom Pisello, CEO of Alinean, a consultancy specializing in maximizing the efficiency of technology spending.
Wireless networks can turn idle time between meetings or during layovers at airports into real work opportunities. And a surprisingly small number of such opportunities justify the cost of the network itself, Pisello says.
Which is why, despite the popularity of wireless in the home, it's within corporations that cutting the wires will make the most difference.