The Perils and Promises of Mobility

If 2008 will be remembered as the year when mobile technologies finally hit critical mass for most mainstream businesses, then 2009 could be the year when many of these same businesses learn some painful lessons about how not to implement mobility.

For all their promise, wireless devices and services demand more forethought than simply distributing gadgets to employees. Companies that focus on the hardware without also considering the related workflow, operational management and integration implications are in for a rude awakening.

In the past, organizations often coped with massive change such as this by ignoring the problem. More risk-averse firms typically banned the use of disruptive new technologies while leadership figured out how to implement them effectively. It’s an attitude that continues to this day. In some organizations, for example, employees aren’t allowed to install instant messaging applications or visit social networking sites such as LinkedIn or Facebook. Road warriors at companies such as these either do without mobile devices or use their own equipment and accounts outside the corporate infrastructure.

It’s a strategy as quaint — and obsolete — as using typewriters in the Internet age. Companies worried about the implications of mobility can’t afford to sit on the sidelines; the world is already cutting the cord. Worldwide mobile handset sales blew through 1 billion in 2007 and continued to grow at double-digit rates through 2008. A new report from Portio Research confirms global mobile penetration exceeded the 50 percent milestone in 2008, while total mobile industry revenues are…


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