Enterprise Communications

Enterprise Wireless Communications Solutions: Changing the Way We Work

by Francisco Rizzo 11 Jul 2011
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To say that 2010 was a turnaround year for enterprise communications falls short of capturing the relief telecom vendors felt after having overcome the worst recession in a decade. As the economies of the world are beginning to recover, vendors are gradually refocusing their attention on issues pertinent to product and business development, and parting ways with the stress of endless budget tightening.

In the case of Digitally Enhanced Cordless Telephony (DECT) and Voice over Wireless Local Area Network (VoWLAN) handsets, 2010 and the first half of 2011 were marked by many interesting developments in terms of product functionality and application integration. Advanced alarm and man-down features, 2D barcode scanners, HD audio (wide-band), more centralized management functions, and superior ruggedized designs are some of the developments that are augmenting the value proposition of wireless endpoints.

As endpoints become more intelligent and interoperable with third-party platforms, enterprises will be more likely to consider these solutions. Not only do these devices make workers more productive (consequence of having real-time communication between workgroup members and on-demand access to information) but they also allow for better customer care (the reduction of overhead pages has proven to reduce patient recovery time in hospitals, and improve the customer shopping experience in retail stores). Furthermore, DECT and VoWLAN vendors are designing solutions around the specific needs of the different verticals (hands-free devices for healthcare and retail, and more rugged handset for extreme environments), thus adding even more value for their customers.

The effect of these technology developments is made even stronger by two important trends that have gained considerable traction in recent times - enterprise mobility and Unified Communications (UC). The manner in which employees collaborate is being redefined by UC and the mobile solutions that permit remote workers to stay connected with their office-based counterparts. A new work culture is beginning to appear within the global enterprise space, and it’s fair to say that the catalyst behind this change is technology-based.

Wireless voice solutions within the enterprise were considered a luxury in the past; however, many companies are now viewing these devices as indispensable for achieving their business objectives. As the devices evolve, the possibilities of incorporating them into the different phases of the value chain grow exponentially. In some cases these devices are even changing the way employees perform specifics tasks.

If we look at the process of cleaning up and preparing an Operating Room (OR) in a hospital, the use of wireless solutions has dramatically changed the way hospital staff carry out this particular task. Now with the simple push of a button on their wireless devices, nurses can notify other staff that the OR needs to be prepped for the next patient. As a result many healthcare institutions have been able to maximize OR turnaround and consequently have been able to schedule more procedures. This translates into greater revenue for the hospital as well as better patient care (patients don’t need to wait very long for the OR to be ready).  

But the examples of improved business process through the use of wireless devices are not limited to the healthcare vertical. Retail stores are finding great value in barcode scanner integration onto the telephony endpoints. Now retail staff can scan any product in the store and make an inquiry with regards to stock availability. This eliminates the need for overhead pages as well as the time-consuming task of having to physically go check the stock room. The list goes on…

Both VoWLAN and DECT endpoints are evolving in terms of functionality and application integration. As a result, enterprises are discovering that there solutions provide much more than just audio communication. These devices are making their way into the day-to-day workflow of specific verticals and in many cases changing the way specific tasks and processes are performed.

Frost & Sullivan expects these endpoints will offer even greater features and functionality in the future. Don’t be surprised when video becomes standard on VoWLAN devices (the next big trend in enterprise mobility). With the ratification of the IEEE 802.11n standard, expect to see great advancements in data-intensive applications. As enterprise users become accustomed to the greater convenience and productivity granted by wireless devices, they will increasingly demand such solutions in their workplace, driving further growth in the VoWLAN and DECT markets.

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