METRICS: Small Gains for Wireless

Wireless LANs (WLANs) score very well in product reliability, according to a recent survey, but they score below average on features such as security and vendor interoperability.

According to Sage Research, a US-based IT market research and consulting firm, product reliability for WLANs scored 80 per cent in customer satisfaction (in the high range). However, the “feature range” satisfaction of WLANs was much lower at 57 per cent (below average).

According to Chris Neal, research director with Sage Research, security concerns are the primary reason companies are not adopting wireless technologies. However, Neal says that in most cases these concerns are based on hearsay and press reports, not personal experience. Wary companies are looking to industries like financial services, which have strict security protocols, to lead the way in wireless. Educating buyers about security safeguards will boost adoption, according to Neal. “If they’re comfortable with the security of it, they will buy it,” he says.

Neal says the most commonly used wireless applications are e-mail and calendar applications. The next step will be equipping the sales force, technical support and customer support representatives with a CRM application. Neal says industries such as retail (inventory management) and health care (patient records management) are primed for wireless applications. “A lot of companies recognise the need for mobile access because they’re getting a push internally,” Neal says.

Many companies that Neal has spoken to have indicated an interest in paying fees for security testing of new mobile applications in a service provider’s lab. “It would be a good way to address some of the security concerns with the more complicated enterprise applications,” Neal says.

Another way to mitigate security risks with wireless is to move toward thin-client devices, putting the computing power in the network and not the device itself. Neal says this will reduce the amount of sensitive information stored in devices.

Copyright © 2003 IDG Communications, Inc.

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