Survey: Enterprise interest in wireless still strong

More than half of global companies expect to develop a wireless application in the next year, according to a survey released today by Evans Data Corp.

The finding shows serious interest in wireless development despite the economic downturn, Evans analyst Joe McKendrick said in an interview. "It's a surprising result," he said.

The Web- and phone-based survey of 401 developers at a variety of companies showed 51 percent "probably" or "absolutely" will undertake development of wireless applications during the next 12 months. That's about 5 percent more than those who said they would pursue such projects six months ago.

About 45 percent of the banks and financial institutions that took part in the survey said they're building applications for wireless access to personal banking, while about 26 percent of the retail organizations are building wireless applications for distribution or field service, McKendrick said.

While the Evans survey shows continuing interest in wireless, another recent global survey of 3,500 companies by Forrester Research Inc. in Cambridge, Mass., showed strong interest in deploying handheld computers, though not necessarily in connecting them wirelessly.

Forrester said 47 percent of the surveyed companies are deploying handhelds, while just 24 percent said they're in the midst of mobile (including wireless) data deployments. Many companies see the need for handhelds that are only infrequently synchronized, because they don't need "up-to-the second data," according to a Forrester report.

The Evans survey also found strong interest by individuals in buying their own wireless devices. About 45 percent of wireless devices are bought by employees, while group or department purchases totalled just 28 percent. Nearly 27 percent of the time, the purchase occurs by other means, including corporate purchases, possibly with input from IT.

"Purchases of wireless devices are still following the grass roots pattern, similar to the way PC's arrived in the 1980s, where you didn't have a central IT manager bring them in, but instead it was the department or individual," McKendrick said.

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