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NetGain: the Wireless Edition

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  • Jim Rink
    Posted with permission of NetGain: NetGain Update November 2002: Wireless ======================= Published by NetGain: We build the blueprint for
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 25 11:32 AM
      Posted with permission of NetGain:

      NetGain Update
      November 2002: Wireless

      Published by NetGain: We build the blueprint for eCommunications.

      What's inside...

      1. Wireless Communication -- Learning From Teenagers
      2. Keeping Your Wireless Communications Quiet
      3. And Now A Word From Our Shameless Commerce Department
      4. The Wireless Intranet
      5. Update Reader Poll Leaves Us Puzzled
      6. Update Reader Poll: A Stocking Stuffer From Our Elves
      7. This Month, NetGain Consultants...
      8. About NetGain
      9. About This Newsletter

      1. Wireless Communication -- Learning From Teenagers

      by Tudor Williams, ABC

      Want to know where technology is taking us -- watch the ways in which our
      teenagers and pre-teens exploit it. My colleague Shel Holtz claims to learn
      much more about our technology future by consulting with his teenage
      daughter than from most technology futurists.

      A year ago Darwin magazine identified what it called The Five Live Ones.
      Among the five new technologies identified as 'hot' were peer-to-peer
      networking and wireless. The marriage of these two technologies is
      devastating our high schools ability to maintain old spelling conventions
      as students master and propagate text messaging. A whole new dictionary has
      emerged, tailored to the needs of the digital read out capabilities of cell
      phones rather than the dictates of the language arts instructor.

      Wireless is getting the biggest play, claims Darwin. It will change
      business more than anything else since the advent of the Internet. It is
      all a question of when. Having unchained ourselves from the office for much
      of our working lives, we will need instant-on e-mail to ensure immediate
      communication with our enterprise. Blackberry wireless PDAs already do this
      to a limited extent. But the future will provide for continuous and
      constant feedback loops with new ways of reaching and being reached by our
      customers, our employees, and our families.

      Wireless technology will go far beyond just the immediate access to
      information we have today. It will allow us to tap directly into enterprise
      applications for all those things we need to do our jobs and to manage our
      personal lives.
      The good news is that early experiences show this new world will reduce our
      costs to communicate. We will replace laptops loaded with gigabytes of
      corporate information with an inexpensive PDA that gives us access to all
      that mainframe data and corporate resources. The initial indications also
      suggest less support costs for PDAs compared to what we required for those
      quirky laptops and software applications.

      Mega flexibility is the order of the day. Wireless connectivity will allow
      us to maintain data at our fingertips wherever we are with the ability to
      update data, change data or add new data. Increasingly mobile workforces
      from sales people to mine workers in open pit mines will need the same
      access that hand held wireless devices will provide us.

      When polled earlier this year by CIO magazine for Wireless Update, CIOs
      identified the greatest barriers to adopting wireless technologies were a
      lack of security, unproven benefits/ROI and high start up costs. But the
      benefits they are now seeing are boosts in productivity, streamlined
      workflow processes and improved customer satisfaction. E-mail, and calendar
      scheduling are the most frequently supported wireless applications today.

      What does that suggest for the future? Well, we know our young people have
      already adopted the technology for instant, constant two-way communication.
      That has to be where at least part of the future of organizational
      communication will lie. But the biggest obstacle to formal and informal
      communication within organizations today is the persistent clinging to
      outmoded notions that browser based, web technology is a broadcast medium.
      A medium that is driven by journalistic strategies from the old print,
      radio and television eras.

      The current debates about who should have what access to information and
      what information do they need must change. The debate must refocus on how
      do we enable access for those who need information. As technology resolves
      the dilemmas around security, we must prepare communication strategies for
      wireless networks that are accessed on the basis of need rather than
      transmitters that broadcast narrow, select messages.

      But perhaps the biggest revolution of all will be with the user who will
      determine individual information needs and not the broadcaster.


      You can reach Tudor at mailto:tudor@...

      2. Keeping Your Wireless Communications Quiet

      by Pete Shinbach, APR

      There's a lot to be said about wireless communications. Unfortunately, lots
      of folks are saying it loudly and that's a problem for businesses. Let me
      give you an example.

      A few weeks ago, I was at the airport, waiting to board a flight to the
      West Coast. There was a delay and a lot of us fellow travelers found
      ourselves huddled around the check-in counter, waiting. That's when I found
      out about a multi-million dollar workers compensation case involving one of
      the Big 3 auto manufacturers. Apparently, there was to be a hearing in Los
      Angeles the following day to determine if the complaint was going to be
      classified as a class action suit. And then I found out the automaker's
      strategy to keep that from happening. It was all very interesting because
      the guy telling me -- and about thirty other fellow travelers -- was the
      expert witness who was going to testify on behalf of the automaker.

      Actually, he wasn't telling us. He was telling whoever was at the other end
      of his cell phone call. There he was, ear bud planted firmly in his ear,
      microphone dangling at his clavicle, braying, for all to hear, what should
      have been a very hush-hush conversation.

      A few weeks later, I was helping a mid-size PR firm develop an online
      public affairs program for one of its clients when I noticed one of those
      WiFi access points sitting on an account executive's credenza. WiFi is the
      geekspeak acronym for the wireless computer networking standard that's
      quickly becoming commonplace in businesses and homes throughout the U.S.
      "Access points" are the paperback-sized device that acts like the hub of
      the wireless network. (It's not technically a hub but that's a discussion
      best left for the next IEEE meeting.)

      So, I started my laptop computer and, within a minute or two, was browsing
      through the agency's client files, much to the consternation of the senior
      VP with whom I was meeting. "You can't do that," he said. "You don't have a
      network logon."

      "Well, I am doing it and I don't need a logon," I said. "What's more,
      anyone in this or the nearby buildings can do it too."

      The problem was that the agency had a somewhat laissez-faire attitude. If
      some employee wanted to plug a wireless device or PDA into the office
      computer, that was OK as long as it helped the employee become more
      productive. The problem was that plugging one of those WiFi devices into
      the office computer network was like opening up the front door and inviting
      everyone in to rummage through the agency's files.

      So, what does this have to do with that airport blabbermouth? In a word:
      security. In the case of the agency, the convenience of wireless
      communications - being able to wander around the office and always be
      connected to the network with its files and e-mail - was tempered by the
      failure to adequately protect the agency's intellectual property. For the
      jerk in the airport, it was the convenience of his cell phone in exchange
      for his injudicious use of the technology.

      For the agency, it was easy to fix the problem. They just changed one or
      two settings on the access point, encrypting all the information moving
      across their wireless network. For the guy with the cell phone growing out
      of his head, the solution won't be as easy. Somehow, he has to learn when
      it's OK to talk "business" in a public place and when it's not OK. Now,
      doesn't that sound like a corporate communications issue?


      Reach Pete at mailto:pete@...

      3. And Now A Word From Our Shameless Commerce Department

      If you�re working on your 2003 training budget (yeah, we know, �What
      budget?�), you�ll want to stay tuned for next month�s Update. We�ve got a
      good series of Webinars planned for next year and January�s issue will have
      the complete schedule. But here�s a peak at some of the topics: e-mail for
      internal and external communications, online newsrooms, integrating
      internal & external online communications, and building online trust. We�re
      going to offer them to anyone, any organization or any chapter (that�s you
      folks in PRSA & IABC) that�s looking for good, cheap and convenient PD.
      We�ll tell you more next month�s Update or you can sign up for our �NetGain
      U� alerts so you�ll be the first one on your block to know when there�s a
      new Webinar. Just send a blank e-mail to

      Now back to our regularly scheduled program.

      4. The Wireless Intranet

      by Shel Holtz, ABC

      One of the greatest of all intranet dilemmas is how to provide access to
      employees who don't sit at a desk all day facing their own computer
      workstation. Another conundrum: why give these people access at all? If
      they need to be doing their work, and their work isn't of an office nature,
      should they really be spending their time cruising the intranet?

      The answer to both questions just might be bound up in the great wireless

      g for pick-up." The result is a 20% increase in the speed with which Pepsi
      responds to problems, which translates into a savings of about $7 million.
      Earlier this year, Business Week magazine reported on several companies
      that have generated significant ROI by equipping field personnel with
      wireless handheld devices connected to the company intranet. There's Pepsi,
      for instance. The company's 700-plus service personnel -- charged with
      keeping 1.3 million vending and fountain machines in tune -- used to get
      paged whenever a customer contacted the call center. The technician called
      in for the job information and, at day's end, sent forms about the repair
      to the company via fax. The information showed up on the intranet five days
      later. Today, according to the Business Week piece, "Dispatchers today
      retrieve from Pepsi's intranet everything the technicians need to know
      about a job and zap it off to the paperback-sized handheld. When the job's
      done, the technician sends an electronic bill to headquarters. At the same
      time, the handheld automatically tells the stockroom which parts were used,
      so when the technician stops in for supplies, replacements are waitin
      You don't have to be Pepsi to benefit from wireless. Nurses and doctors at
      St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital in Houston, Texas, carry laptops on their
      rounds. They enter information from patient visits directly into the
      laptop, sending it directly to the intranet via WiFi access points. The
      hospital planned to expand WiFi from three floors to all 22. Data entry
      time by those using the wireless network has been cut by 30%. "The
      respiratory therapy group alone was able to shave staff by 20%, saving $1.5
      million while handling 13% more patients," Business Week reports.

      So why are companies slow to pick up on the benefits of wireless? For the
      same reason they were slow rolling out e-mail and intranets -- and are
      still resisting collaborative technologies like message boards. Because
      business will always trail consumers when it comes to adopting new
      communication technologies.

      While wireless may seem like science fiction in most organizations, it's
      one of the hotter trends in the consumer marketplace. According to a study
      by ComScore Networks, 10 million Americans surf from PDAs or cell phones.
      That's only 4.5% of all Internet users, but the percentage is expected to
      grow to nearly 28% by 2004 and 46% by 2007. And the U.S. trails the rest of
      the world, where 16% of Internet users get online without wires. Asia leads
      the pack with nearly 39%.

      To be sure, accessing the intranet over a cell phone or PDA is not going to
      give a user the same experience as a deskbound employee...at least, not for
      a while. But you can still provide access to the information an employee
      needs to do his job, deliver important news, and connect employees more
      immediately to the rest of the enterprise. And even for deskbound
      employees, there is some value to being able to log on from where the
      employee is instead of being limited to loggin in from where the computer is.

      As with any other technology that grows in popularity, wireless technology
      is getting cheaper. Wireless access to the intranet is as inevitable as the
      proliferation of instant messaging in the workplace.


      Contact Shel at mailto:shel@...

      5. Update Reader Poll Leaves Us Puzzled

      When we looked over the results of last month's Update Reader Poll, our
      first reaction was kinda "ho-hum." Most of the things you told us about
      how you're using wireless communications weren't particularly surprising:
      everyone's got a cell phone, more than 60% of you have either a PDA or text
      pager and none of you use Tablet PCs. That last one was a trick question
      'cause Microsoft and their hardware partners only announced Tablet PCs at
      the beginning of this month.

      Then we sat down with a glass of good wine, put some cool jazz on the
      NetGain stereo and carefully read your survey answers. That's when things
      got interesting.

      We asked how important wireless communications is for seven key audiences -
      executives, your supervisor, the media, investors, vendors and customers -
      today and how important it will be in two years. Here are some of the more
      curious comparisons:

      * 10% of you said it's not important to be able to communicate wirelessly
      with executives today. But, in two years, a third of you said it wouldn't
      be important while 40% said it would be vital. That's quite a gap!

      * 20% of you said it's not important to be able to communicate wirelessly
      with customers today. Half of you said it wouldn't be important to be able
      to do so in two years. But one of you wrote, "They (customers) will be
      accustomed to this type of communication from other sources and we must
      stay relevant."

      Finally, while the wireless communications industry continues to grow like
      proverbial gangbusters with new business applications springing up like
      dandelions on a warm spring day, our Reader Poll indicates that you're
      taking a different view of wireless communications. On average, a little
      more than a third of you told us that wireless communications with those
      seven key audiences isn't very important today and almost 60% of you said
      it wouldn't be important in two years. In other words, the need for
      communicating wirelessly with customers, vendors, investors, the media,
      co-workers and executives will be less in two years than it is today.

      All of which leaves us scratching our heads.

      6. Update Reader Poll: A Stocking Stuffer From Our Elves

      Next month�s Update is going to be a bit different. Instead of our usual
      opinions, ideas and prognostications, we�re going to put together a list of
      our favorite Web sites: Sort of a holiday gift from the NetGain elves. And,
      like what�s going on in many of your organizations, we thought a gift
      exchange would be in order. That�s where you come in.

      We�d like to know your favorite Web sites. Where do you go online for
      information about business communications? About news? Entertainment?
      Other stuff? Let us know and we�ll put together a list on our Web site. We
      hope this will give you and everyone else who reads Update a place to go to
      find interesting Web sites that�ll help on and off the job. Think of it as
      a NetGain stocking stuffer.

      To do all of this, all you have to do is click on over to our monthly
      Update Reader poll,
      http://www.zoomerang.com/survey.zgi?9JG4YLQR411AS1TF8XQRT7YD. Fill in the
      questionnaire with your favorite business, news, entertainment and other
      Web sites and wait a few weeks for us to post the results.

      And don�t forget to leave some milk and cookies out for you-know-who on
      Christmas eve.

      7. This Month, NetGain Consultants...

      * Worked with a major utility to plan for the evolution of its intranet

      * Conducted a series of intranet workshops focusing on online strategic
      employee communications

      * Presented online communication sessions at a well-known medical clinic

      8. About NetGain

      NetGain is a group of high-end communications consultants who work with
      leading companies and associations to help them achieve strategic
      communication objectives using online technology.

      NetGain delivers onsite and online consulting and professional development
      programs. For information, send e-mail to mailto:info@....

      To find out more about NetGain, send an e-mail message to

      9. About This Newsletter

      Was this issue of the NetGain Update useful? Did it give you a new idea or
      two you can use to improve the way you use electronic information tools?
      Maybe even a new service you can offer your clients or employer to help
      them succeed. If it did, we've succeeded. If it didn't, just wait until the
      next issue.

      NetGain UPDATE is a monthly newsletter published by NetGain, a consortium
      of independent communications technology consultants. Each article in this
      newsletter is copyrighted by its author. Feel free to share the NetGain
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      Jim Rink
      Senior Contributing Editor

      AAA Michigan
      1 Auto Club Drive
      Dearborn, MI 48126

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