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In the aftermath of September 11th

The recent tragic events in the United States have greatly affected telecommunications. Here is a look at the impact on wireless technologies...


December 1, 2001  


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The sweeping impacts of the attacks on the United States have caused the entire telecommunications industry to think about how it will be influenced by the consequent political, economic and social repercussions. Repercussions include the reluctance to have employees travel, more emphasis on security, and the development of business continuity plans.

It is clear that corporate culture has new circumstances to take into account, and CIOs are busy adapting to these new challenges.

KEEPING IN TOUCH

Many corporations across North America have put new travel policies into place that restrict employee travel until potential risks subside. With businesses looking for alternatives to air travel and reducing the frequency of off-site meetings, there is a clear surge in demand for advanced communication services to keep productivity high. Services that will be directly impacted are those which aid in facilitating virtual meeting places, such as video conferencing and wireless devices, which will help keep employees in touch with each other anywhere at anytime.

Video conferencing and secure electronic document exchange technologies side-step the need for physical transport, but their successful establishment requires substantial investment, planning and training. Outsourcing will play a key role by allowing organizations to focus on their core business, while allowing more qualified providers to deal with the technical headaches.

If air-traffic systems continue to be disrupted, video conferencing will prove to be extremely valuable. This is true not only in the boardrooms of many larger corporations, but at the lower end as well, with simple Internet applications that can be deployed more or less immediately. It is anticipated that the volume of videoconference traffic will increase exponentially as a result.

PROVIDING SECURITY

Mobile solutions are also gaining attention because of their ability to keep employees in contact with each other, while at the same time providing a sense of security. The widespread use of wireless phones and other devices on September 11th has led many corporations to view these technologies as necessities rather than conveniences, therefore accelerating enterprise adoption. The primary driver behind enterprise wireless connectivity has traditionally been corporate e-mail access, with solutions such as RIM/Blackberry having experienced strong adoption rates. The benefits of these wireless solutions garnered much attention due to the high volume of users in the New York City area on September 11th. There is likely to be an accelerated adoption in already targeted markets. And an increasing number of enterprises in a broad variety of industries will evaluate these solutions and adopt them where they can be justified.

Wireless carriers are predicting accelerated wireless adoption, leading to a revision of subscriber forecasts. While industry stakeholders are justifiably reluctant to be seen as attempting to gain from dire circumstances, they must ultimately alter their strategies and positioning to compensate for new realities. For example, carriers will need to focus on service reliability and network coverage for the corporate user.

INSTANT MESSAGING GROWTH

Wireless subscriber growth and adoption should also drive the growth of Instant Messaging (IM). Today, IM is largely a consumer-focused application. However, both consumer and enterprise customers will spur IM’s growth, particularly as IM vendors and service providers address issues that are critical to the enterprise, such as security and overall usability issues. The real-time advantages, as compared with other non real-time messaging solutions (e-mail), have drawn attention to IM. Short Messaging Services (SMS) could also provide a reliable solution, however usage will continue to be limited due to lack of network interoperability.

The impacts of the attacks on the United States are being felt throughout our personal and business lives. It is understandable that telecommunications stakeholders do not want to be seen as capitalizing on these tragic events. However, there is a role for communications technologies and services to play in helping businesses and consumers adapt to new realities. CS

Jeremy R. Depow (who shares this column with the Yankee Group’s Iain Grant) is a Senior Analyst with the Yankee Group in Canada, a technology-consulting firm in Brockville, ON. In this position, Mr. Depow is responsible for primary research and analysis of new telecom technologies and market developments. He also holds responsibility for the authoring of several Yankee Group Research Reports.

With businesses looking for alternatives to air travel and reducing the frequency of off-site meetings, there is a clear surge in demand for advanced communication services to keep productivity high.


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