EDITORIAL: The next big thing, really

Despite being a victim of overblown hype, wireless solutions will be one of the biggest enterprise trends since the industrial, oops, er, I mean since the Internet revolution. It's the next 'big paradigm shift' and all that, according to predictions of a Gartner analyst conducting an Asia-Pacific region study, to be based on some 950 interviews examining the trends, drivers and investment plans for the wireless data market.

Local reference sites for wireless applications do exist. For instance, gleaned from a recent SAP partners and customers awards function was the involvement of KPMG Consulting in building a SAP-based wireless plant maintenance and warehouse management system for Robert Bosch Australia. (If you ever had old-old cars like me, you probably first encountered the Bosch brand atop bakelite voltage regulator boxes. These days Bosch still makes auto electronics but may be better known for power tools, among other stuff). I'm told that KPMG is also working up a wireless solution for the NSW Waterways Authority. Over recent years I have heard of a Palm-based mine site and hospital solutions from Yambay, along with heaps of other specific wireless applications.

So wireless access to enterprise applications is not a new idea, or even a new thing, especially for jobs that require walk-about maintenance and warehousing employees to input and retrieve data. Such uses can bear highly customised access devices and formulaic input/output formats. So what about wide applications among so-called knowledge workers?

The evidence is mixed. Ralph Stadus, the general manager of the information systems division of notebook PC and handheld device maker Toshiba Australia, claims that his company is in the only IT growth sector right now. But Cisco has reorganised again, merging its wireless (mobile and wireless LANs) group formed only last August into broader access, routing and Ethernet Access groups. (However, an analyst from UBS Warburg still pegs wireless as one of Cisco's emerging growth areas). Microsoft's Derek Brown, director of global communications for Microsoft's mobile devices, reckons there's a "tremendous opportunity" in the mobile wireless sector, but that the key to success will be "forthcoming compelling applications and services".

"There's not a killer app, there are thousands of developers writing thousands of applications that fit individual needs," Brown said, adding that Microsoft is spending big to build an "ecosystem" to support such wonders. Computerworld's own reader surveys show strong interest in mobile and wireless technologies, but this is a long way short of an industrial revolution-type inflection point.

So are you talking to analysts and vendors about enterprise wireless plans? Is your CFO or MD approving such projects?

David_Beynon@idg.com.au.

Editor in chief.

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