Flat Is The New Up

By  Susan Nunziata — July 31, 2008

The ongoing mortgage crisis. Gas prices topping $4 a gallon. Rising unemployment. No doubt about it, we're in tough economic times.

Nearly every conversation I've had in the past two months -- whether with end-user enterprises, analysts or technology vendors -- has eventually come round to the state of the economy.

On Wall Street, the expression du jour is "Flat is the new up." In today's market, it's a relief to be able to say your revenues are on a par with last year's.

What does all this mean for the mobile enterprise?

The effect is twofold. On the downside, it means mobility projects are being delayed, or even cancelled, as enterprises re-evaluate their priorities -- and their budgets. On the upside, enterprises we're talking to are saying they're willing to invest in solutions that will save them money and improve efficiency. Everybody needs to do more with less, and wireless solutions can make that possible.

For organizations that are focused on field service, supply chain and transportation / logistics, and any other enterprise that's at the mercy of rising fuel costs, mobile solutions that offer route optimization and improved management of mobile workers are a priority.

For campus environments -- particularly those in customer-facing sectors such as education, healthcare and hospitality -- the quality of the wireless infrastructure is going to be a key competitive differentiator.

For corporations that are knowledge-based, one focus is on reducing energy costs. Mobility solutions that enable workers to effectively telecommute can cut down drive time and reduce fuel usage. Likewise, having fewer people in a centralized office can help a company reduce its real estate and utility overhead expenses.

Yet, the process of getting these and other mobility solutions implemented isn't going to be quick or easy. The mobile evangelists at any organization are going to be challenged, now more than ever, to prove to their C-level bosses that a mobility strategy will bring tangible benefit to the corporate bottom line.

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