Wireless pays

FRAMINGHAM (02/19/2004) - Wait-and-see time is over. Companies are prepared to pour more money into wireless in 2004 because of the success of their initial deployments, according to a recent report.

Natick, Mass.-based Sage Research surveyed 118 wireless LAN users and 41 companies with plans to adopt WLANs about their 2004 investments. According to the survey, 80 percent of wireless users planned to increase their investments during the first six months of 2004. The number one reason for this enthusiasm: productivity. Two-thirds of WLAN users said they had anticipated that previous wireless would increase productivity and, according to the survey, nearly all of those respondents said they did indeed receive gains in productivity.

"Wireless is really impacting employee productivity and efficiency," says Joshua Weiss, project manager at Sage Research. "Those who expected the benefit also realized it."

The survey also found that employee satisfaction is a secondary, unexpected benefit of wireless. While just 32 percent of wireless users said they expected employee satisfaction to increase, 59 percent said they realized gains in satisfaction.

According to the survey, overall WLAN penetration is still low. Just 65 percent of WLAN users say 10 percent or fewer of their employees use WLANs. Typically, Weiss says, organizations rolled out wireless to mobile/field workers and the sales force. He expects new investment to creep into other departments.

Most respondents (74 percent) cited security as the primary barrier to further adoption of wireless, but Weiss says that companies are becoming more comfortable with wireless security and that investment will still be strong in 2004.

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