From small businesses to global enterprises, getting wireless communications
right is tough. Here are seven of the most common mistakes enterprises
make with their wireless strategies.

Slowly, the enterprise sector has come around to accepting wireless’ place in its world. It started slowly as employees brought their then strictly consumer devices to work in an effort to drive efficiencies at the office. CIOs and their IT counterparts began receiving requests to help employees use their wireless devices in a more official capacity.

As time has gone by, more enterprises have adopted wireless. However, without a clearcut Business 101 model for adoption and implementation, many enterprises have stumbled as they have committed one or more of the 7 Deadly Sins when it comes to employing a streamlined, holistic communications network.

And though the 7 Deadly Sins enterprises commit won’t necessarily send them to wireless purgatory, any one of them could cause them a devil of a time.

Wireless Week reached out to a cross-section of operators, vendors and analysts close to the enterprise space for their insights into what they consider to be the deadliest of sins committed and offered suggestions on how to resolve them.

1. Failure to recognize the wireless communication system as a vital new business tool.
Experts concur that the enterprise sector as a whole isn’t embracing wireless as a business tool. Until it incorporates a workable wireless strategy into its overall business plan, it will miss out on a golden opportunity.

Bill Hughes“Senior management doesn’t recognize wireless as a productivity tool, and isn’t optimizing wireless communications and devices. It’s not a big priority because it’s a big thing to get their heads around. Our data says only 44% of enterprises do wireless the right way.” –Bill Hughes, analyst for the research group, In-Stat

“Businesses often view wireless as just air. The sin is not recognizing it as a dynamic medium and seeing it as more of a strategic component to their business, and not having a holistic view of the wireless space.” –Chris Kozup, senior manager of mobility solutions, Cisco Systems

“Wireless is not just a cell phone. It’s a business tool that can enhance a business. The sin some enterprises commit is looking at wireless as a commodity, not a business tool. With applications like GPS, and others, it’s truly a valuable tool.”
–Butch Musselman, vice president of enterprise business solutions, Sprint

Matt Finkelstein“There’s lots of ROI (return on investment) on the table with wireless. For instance, getting real-time data for field techs, fewer call centers and 30% utility gains. It’s a sin for organizations to think there’s not significant productivity with this type of investment.” –Matt Finkelstein, vice president of product management for Vettro.

2. Leaving wireless communications unsecured.
Securing an enterprise’s wireless network is a cardinal sin, according to the majority of experts. Not investing in a tight, secure wireless strategy ranks right up there with fraud and embezzlement.

“It’s amazing how deluded some enterprises can be on this topic. Most think they’re in good shape. But dig into the details, and you’ll find companies don’t run regular security audits or have a formal wireless security policy in place, or train their employees on security risks. Any business that thinks it has all of its wireless security bases covered is kidding itself.” –Jeanine Sterling, senior analyst for the research group, Frost & Sullivan

“Enterprises are realizing the productivity gains they can get by mobile connectivity, but there’s little being spent to protect data in the field. The sin is leaving too many things under the control of end users. And employees are not being trained about security. The solution is to not give out passwords and combine corporate policy and corporate training about security. Another solution is a way of making data unusable simply by using encryption keys, which can be done remotely.” –Ken Georgiades, assistant GM for the mobile security group, Alcatel-Lucent

“By and large, the enterprise sector has been slow to add security to wireless, but it’s getting better at encryption, albeit there aren’t as many users as we had expected for encryption or authentication. There’s a fallacy that wireless security is less than wired. It’s not. Our wireless enterprise customers now have more robust security than wired. It would behoove enterprises to use all of the available security.” –Kevin Goulet, senior director of marketing for Motorola’s Ryan Hendricksonenterprise mobility business

“There are lots of errors around data and security. But there are applications being developed where a company can remotely destroy data on lost or stolen phones or laptops.” –Ryan Hendrickson, product manager for Agilent Technologies’ mobile broadband division

“If you don’t pay for it (security), you have no reasonable right to expect it.” –Bill Hughes, In-Stat analyst

3. Relying on personal liability vs. corporate liability.
In-Stat reports that 26% of enterprises are moving toward a corporate liability strategy for their wireless communications, while 24% maintain personal liability. The sin, experts maintain, is keeping it personal.

“It’s about a 50-50 split between corporate and personal libable. The personal liable strategy creates less productivity among employees because they’re more careful about making business calls. We estimate they lose two hours a month of productivity because of that.” –Bill Hughes, In-Stat analyst

Butch Musselman“Enterprises can leverage more devices for more discounts by moving to a corporate liable strategy. I think more enterprises are realizing they can operate more efficiently and productively by taking the corporate liable approach.”–Butch Musselman, vice president of enterprise business solutions, Sprint

4. Not managing devices and services among the workforce.
Managing the flood of mobile and wireless devices entering the enterprise sector is growing in its severity, and experts say it’s climbing the deadliest sins chart.

“The sin is not deploying a device management strategy, which can lower management costs of devices. IT departments aren’t taking mobility seriously, so there’s no policy to manage these devices and it’s not quite important enough to invest in it.” –Clyde Foster, vice president of collaboration solutions, Nokia

“Mismanagement of employees’ mobile phones has to be a sin. Any IT department that hasn’t taken control of phone selection needs to think through the cost and security ramifications of not Mike O’Malleybeing able to track and lock-down their mobile devices.” –Jeanine Sterling, Frost & Sullivan senior analyst

“There are so many services, the challenge is greater than ever to not just sign up for a minute plan. There are lots of other options for enterprises if they’re aware of them.” –Mike O’Malley, director of external marketing, Tellabs

5. Lack of short- and long-term plans for wireless.
The lack of even a rudimentary strategy for wireless communications, or even worse a disparate one, is a tremendous violation, experts say. To absolve enterprises of the no-plan sin, a thoughtful wireless strategy must be deployed.

“When we look at wireless in the enterprise sector, it starts with planning. From the beginning, you have to be able to configure schemes like security, and from an IT perspective, deploy the network seamlessly.” –Manju Mahishi, director of product marketing for enterprise WLAN at Motorola

“Our survey from last year told us that 100% of our enterprise customers had some sort of security policy and strategy, but only 3% had a mobility strategy and policy. Without a mobile wireless strategy, enterprises are missing the leverage. Most IT departments have little money for new initiatives, with no comprehensive plan. CIOs say it’s a top 10 issue, but can only fund the top 3. It’s a catch-22.” –Clyde Foster, vice president of collaboration solutions, Nokia

“The No. 1 priority with small- to mid-size businesses is a mobile strategy. But they’re really struggling with long-term wireless strategies that can provide cable modem-like speeds and help them operate more productively.” –Butch Musselman, vice president of enterprise business solutions, Sprint

“Once a plan is developed, plan as early as possible to test it before deployment. And test it realistically, not just copy it from other models. It costs less to fix problems earlier than at any other point.” –Ryan Hendrickson, product manager for Agilent Technologies’ mobile broadband division

“Once an enterprise has been burned by the sin of poor planning, they become more open, so it does get better.” –Kevin Goulet, senior director of marketing for Motorola’s enterprise mobility business

6. Not recognizing new technologies.
Not staying on top of emerging technologies is a sin that will eventually hurt an enterprise, experts say. The solution? Keep your eyes on technology.

Heather Howland“A growing number of enterprises know that new technologies exist, but some don’t think about how easy it is for end users. They think they’re too complicated, so they don’t use them.” –Heather Howland, senior manager of marketing for Ascendent, a subsidiary of Research in Motion

“Some enterprises get locked into patterns and tend to not pay attention to new technologies. In just 18 months, there could be an entire new platform.” –Matt Finkelstein, vice president of product management for Vettro

7. Making wireless more complicated than it really is.
Many enterprises are a bit unnerved when it comes to wireless communication. It’s too complicated and vague. That’s a sin that needs to disappear, experts say.

Chris Kozup“There is some complexity to RF, and in simply managing a wireless network. So our goal is to abstract that complexity. But the industry has moved beyond just Wi-Fi for meeting rooms. The goal now is to build a wireless infrastructure with the performance of wireline.” –Chris Kozup, senior manager of mobility solutions, Cisco Systems

“Some enterprises look at BlackBerry, mobile (devices) and smartphones and think they’re too complicated, so they’re hesitant to install them. But technology is improving to allow more devices with less complexity. For example, having one number for five devices.” –Heather Howland, senior manager of marketing for Ascendent, a subsidiary of Research in Motion

“We’re seeing an inflexion point in the growth of wireless at enterprises. People are realizing the cost and complexity of dual networks – wireless and wired. Wireless is extremely secure, resilient and robust, but people are scratching their heads about their wireless communication strategies, and when they should be used as a business critical network.” –Kevin Goulet, senior director of marketing for Motorola’s enterprise mobility business

Despite much of the enterprise sector being guilty of committing at least one of the 7 Deadly Sins, there is widespread agreement that the majority of businesses are committed to investing in a long-term wireless strategy. Just how they get there, and when, may be the eighth deadly sin.