The Need for a Mobile Strategy is Now

Evert also limits employees choices of providers to keep costs under control.

“I think it’s extremely important,” she said. “At the moment our strategy is … we will divide the people up into groups then provide them the best that we can for their particular needs.”

This is not the case for Elwyn Hull. As telecom director for the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Hull is tasked with appeasing a large group of doctors and professionals who do not take dictation kindly. In his case, a mobile strategy has to take into account all of the existing technologies it can.

“The first thing that a telecom director and companies need to look at is will their PBX platform or their data infrastructure support all of these devices that people want to use,” said Hull, who is the incoming president of the Siemen’s user group JUST-US. “And that does give us problems and sometimes the users are frustrated because our infrastructure may not support the functionality they want.”

UTSMC, for example, uses Novell Groupwise for collaboration, messaging, calendaring and the like, but many wireless vendors don’t support Novell. Microsoft Exchange and Lotus Notes, sure, but not Novell. So, when a doctor wants to sync up his latest whatever it is often difficult.

To get around another potential problem, Hull is rolling out wireless to the entire campus, about 40 buildings. But, this is a new idea. Originally, he wanted to just do some hotspots like in the library and sections of the hospital but, once he looked at the issue from a strategic point of view, he realized everyone would want WiFi connectivity everywhere.

The next phase to complete is upgrading their PBX switch from a Rolm 9751 to a Siemen’s Highpass 4500 that supports both TDM and VoIP. Once again giving as many people as many options as possible.

“If you don’t have a strategy then you sort of run into this ‘Well, I’m going go out and get whatever I want because nothing is being offered to me’,” said Hull, referring to his strong-willed constituency.

But he makes a good point: If you don’t do it, mobility will come into the company on its own and, like instant messaging, wireless routers and USB drives, IT will be stuck playing catch up.

“It’s funny how history has a way of repeating itself,” said Aberdeen’s Winthrop. “This whole question of heterogeneous applications, heterogeneous platforms, heterogeneous devices; the whole issue of this fragmented environment comes from a nascent market.”

And, as ubiquitous as mobility is now, we haven’t see anything yet.