Enterprises Continue to Drive Wireless Applications

Nearly half (46.1 percent) of development managers at large corporations plan to develop applications for wireless devices in the coming year, according to Evans Data Corp. That’s more than plan on developing B2B e-commerce applications and even security.

Enterprise developers are leading the wireless development phenomenon. An Evans Data survey of the general developer population found only 38 percent planning to develop wireless applications. A notable percentage of development managers (42.7 percent) also said that wireless technology is an important mainstream technology in their company. And despite the daunting task of extending current enterprise applications to incorporate wireless technology, 39.9 percent of development managers feel this is important enough to implement the changes.

E-mail and instant messaging are still the most popular wireless applications, Evans Data found, but at least one-quarter of wireless-enabled companies are building or supporting interfaces for CRM, sales force automation and field force automation.

When selecting a brand of wireless device for the enterprise, 77 percent of development managers say that platform integration is critical or very important to their decision, followed closely by 71.7 percent citing security concerns. These concerns outweighed factors like operating system and cost.

“The proliferation of wireless and mobile devices presents IT departments with the greatest integration challenge since the introduction of the PC, and is following a similar path,” said Joe McKendrick, analyst for Evans Data Corp. “That is, the wireless revolution is coming from the bottom-up — end-users are bringing these devices into the organization to boost their own personal productivity. IT executives now have the opportunity to expand the reach and versatility of these devices to benefit the organization as a whole. Our survey shows this effort has begun in earnest at the enterprise level. But as was the case with PCs, it will be some time before there is an integrated strategy for acquiring and managing these assets.”

The Evans Data findings are part of the bi-annual Enterprise Development Management Issues Survey Series. It is based on in-depth interviews with more than 400 development managers at companies having more than 2,000 employees, and measures usage patterns, attitudes and intentions regarding technology.

Despite highly publicized consumer applications for wireless, it’s becoming increasingly clear that enterprises, which have a need and the budgets to institute wireless applications, will drive wireless Internet adoption.

According to a study by Insight Research, it will be useful for enterprises to make data ordinarily accessed via corporate intranets available to employees no matter where they are. However, it will take some time before devices, applications and the presentation of data is attractive to consumers.

Issues such as slow access speeds and poor reliability are being resolved as faster, more reliable wireless technologies are deployed, according to Insight. Such issues aren’t as much a hindrance for enterprises that could profit from dissemination from data to mobile employees as they are for consumers, who want a more enjoyable experience.

That difference between enterprise and consumer adoption of wireless will have a profound impact on services such as m-commerce, which are focused on consumers, the report said.

“Analysts said it (wireless) would drive mobile commerce. Unfortunately, these things haven’t happened, and won’t happen for at least the next few years,” said Insight’s Robert Rosenberg. “The market for these services will grow, but only as rapidly as advanced technologies are deployed and more enticing applications can evolve. If ever there was a market begging for a killer app, this is it.”

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