Study: Mail is top corporate wireless app

IT managers in large corporations are looking to wireless data WANs (Wide-Area Networks) mostly for e-mail, and are grappling with challenges of security, costs and system integration in implementing them, according to a survey commissioned by research company Andrew Seybold's Outlook 4Mobility.

E-mail was named as the most important wireless data WAN application by 43 percent of IT managers from companies using or testing wireless WANs, said Barney Dewey, a senior partner at Andrew Seybold Group LLC, a consulting firm affiliated with Outlook 4Mobility. The single greatest obstacle to deploying wireless networks was security, according to 38 percent of the IT managers surveyed.

"Clearly, it shows that things like the (Research in Motion Ltd.) Blackberry product are the number one thing out there," for companies using wireless WANs, Dewey said. Because radio spectrum for wide-area wireless networks is licensed, companies typically contract with service providers for wireless WAN coverage.

Seybold commissioned researchers from Evergreen, Colorado-based Wireless Marcom LLC to interview IS managers at the Computer Associates International Inc. CA World conference last summer in Orlando, Florida. In 228 interviews, the researchers found 72 managers who were familiar with a deployment of wireless data WANs at their companies. Most of those 72 managers represented large enterprises: 45 percent worked for companies with 5,000 or more employees; 19 percent worked at companies with between 2,500 and 5,000 employees.

Of the companies represented by those 72 managers, 30 percent already had employees using wireless data WANs -- including 12 percent that had 500 or more employees using them. The other 70 percent were using wireless WANs on a trial basis.

Accessing the corporate intranet was cited by 15 percent of the companies as a current or planned application, and accessing calendars and other personal information was cited by 12 percent. Other applications being used or planned included customer relationship management, with 6 percent, and sales force automation, with 5 percent. Some of those applications may overlap, as employees of one company may reach a variety of corporate applications wirelessly, Dewey said.

IT departments also want to take advantage of wireless WANs. Network and systems monitoring was cited as an application in use or planned by 12 percent of the interviewees.

An obstacle to wireless WAN use cited by 16 percent of the companies was cost. The difficulty of integrating the use of wireless WANs with existing systems was cited by 14 percent, Dewey said.

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