Magazine Article | September 1, 2000

The World Is Shrinking

Source: Field Technologies Magazine

Wireless technology and mobile computing devices let employees make quicker and more informed decisions. But, is your company doing all it can to leverage this technology?

Integrated Solutions, September 2000
No one delivers a joke like deadpan comedian Steven Wright. (While this statement is true, I'm not necessarily sure if it's actually a compliment for the frizzy-haired nightclub performer.) "It's a small world," he once uttered in his uniquely monotone voice and then pausing for a second, "but I wouldn't want to have to paint it." It's a great line, for sure. But remembering that line got me thinking about the "small world" concept.

I'm a skeptical guy by my very nature, but even I believe that the physical size of the planet has remained pretty constant since its creation. I'll also easily concede that Americans actually landed on the moon, and the government did not perform alien autopsies at Area 51. That said, there is something to the idea that physical distance – and time, for that matter – are both shrinking around us. And make no mistake about it, this development is having a tremendous impact on the way you do business.

How fast can you get critical information into the hands of decision makers? Are your employees in the field connected to your enterprise? These are just a couple of the most critical issues facing your company. You can ignore them, but you can be sure your competition is not taking this laissez-faire approach.

A Wireless Enterprise
If your company is trying to compress time and shorten distances, then you need look no further than current wireless technology offerings. Sure, every adolescent in your local mall is carrying a wireless phone these days. But that application hardly seems worthy of the technology. Try equipping your off-site employees with phones that offer wireless Internet connections. Let them check current product pricing, the latest stock quotes, and their e-mail while they're riding in a cab to visit a customer.

How about connecting these off-site employees to your company's enterprise through wireless technology and Palm VII devices from Palm Inc.? That's just what ABN AMRO, the sixth largest bank in the world, is planning to do (page 28). Connecting its off-site employees to the company's portal via wireless technology will give ABN AMRO a big competitive advantage. There's always that last piece of data that an account manager needs before knocking on a customer's door. Having this data in real time – whether it's a profitability number or the latest credit information – may actually help people close more deals. At the very least, they can make more informed decisions.

Maximize All The Benefits Of Wireless Technology
Quicker and more informed decisions are really at the heart of wireless technology integration. However, a company can only realize this huge benefit by integrating wireless technology with the rest of its enterprise. If off-site employees can't check e-mail or access the Internet or company intranet, then they're only tapping a fraction of the capabilities of wireless phones and PDAs (personal digital assistants). If that's the case, then cede the technology to the mall rats.

Trust me, it is a small world. And it's only going to get smaller as time and distance continue to contract. Still, no matter how small the world really seems, I'm with Steven Wright. I wouldn't want to paint it.

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