Freedom to Roam

hcare company, enables
its diabetic consumers to post their blood sugar readings to the Web throughout
the day, using a cell phone. The results are stored on the Web and monitored
by personal physicians.

While no one can predict which wireless functionalities users will eventually
want, winning applications will share certain characteristics. For one
thing, says Auld, they will be heuristic, or adaptable to their operating
environments. “Take an application involving work flow,” he says. “Suppose
that someone in the group is suddenly taken ill. Unless there is supervisory
human intervention to change the work flow, a logjam would result, affecting
all downstream work.” Heuristic software would detect this imbalance in
the load, he says, and knowing the type and quality of the resources available,
retune the system to allow for this change. Thus, heuristic software does
not merely perform a static function, but also tunes to its environment
to optimize functionality.

In addition, says Auld, winning wireless software would adapt well to
matrix organizations, in which individual employees fulfill a variety
of roles within their area of expertise. In such cases, employees may
report to a number of different managers and are constantly inputting
to projects at various stages of development, and even at different sites.

In the area of enterprise application development, business logic is
moving away from the client and out of backend servers. This trend supports
advances in the midtier, and CIOs, especially in retail or e-businesses
sectors, should expect growth in intelligent wireless devices and the
thin client.

As customer relationship management becomes more sophisticated, and
the application of pervasive computing devices more far-reaching, writes
Gold, specialization beyond what we have experienced already is inevitable.
Companies will have to make the transition from focusing on hardware standards,
he writes, to focusing on interface standards and personalization technologies.

The final frontier is “evolutionary,” says Sidon, in the form of bigger
screens, smaller-sized devices, and other ergonomic factors that will
make wireless computing more comfortable for the user. The endgame: a
communication path between every worker no matter where they are located.

“The time will come when we rely not just on wireless but on connectionless
intelligent communication between most personal computing devices,” says
Auld. When not only data, but also voice and video have been integrated,
companies will have met the ultimate challenge: the generation of the
virtual company.