Growing Pains Unlike Europe and Asia, where wireless coverage is nearly ubiquitous, the United States still has geographic areas where wireless devices are useless. The best wireless service providers don't even reach 70 percent of the United States today. Redman says he doesn't expect that situation to improve anytime soon. Between now and 2005, Redman sees wireless vendors improving their current networks to meet increased demand, but not expanding networks to reach new markets in more remote locations. The other harsh reality for CIOs is integration. To be effective, wireless devices must be integrated with traditional networks and databases, which calls for a whole new set of IT skills and tools. And then there are the security issues, which companies are only starting to deal with today.
Still, even if wireless isn't quite ready for prime time, it's the wise CIO who makes the technology a key component of the strategic plan. "CIOs need to start planning for wireless," Redman says. "Those who wait will be left behind."
The world is going wireless -- regardless of the health concerns. These solutions will be expensive, and some of them won't work. But the risk of trying and failing is a lot less costly than the risk of doing nothing at all.