Freedom to Roam

ing goes mainstream,
admits Shankar, who envisions a day when traders will actually leave their
desks and go to lunch, confident at least that they won’t miss a bidding
call. To that end, his backend technology is WAP-compatible, and his team
is working on conveying key bits of information to fit miniature screens.
Yet Shankar speaks for many IT execs when he says that his CEO is frankly
not overly concerned about wireless. “We’re not selling $30 toasters,”
he jokes.

Sometimes, IT executives find themselves at odds with CEOs about how
best to achieve goals within budget. “The IT executive is trying to build
a consistent, reliable, and unfortunately expensive infrastructure for
the organization, while the business executive turns up with a new palmtop
device costing a few hundred pounds and wants it to plug into his mobile
phone,” says Auld. The challenge for technologists, he says, is how to
meet ideal executive goals without upsetting the legacy systems that are
keeping the business operational.

Even at high-tech companies, senior managers and road warriors mainly
use wide-area wireless technology (e.g., the wireless application protocol)
to pick up e-mail and the occasional file, says Auld. Companies like his
will be on the forefront of setting trends and standards. For mainstream
companies, the wireless industry is still in its infancy, meriting dedicated
research, but not yet full-scale strategic investments.