Andrew Olsen Wireless Information Management: By Ron Elliot A Review :University of Maryland University College
2 Abstract Wireless technology is taking the world by storm. Everyone from businesses, families, andgovernments are using wireless technology and it is only going to continue to expand. There aremany wireless systems available, but the most innovative are those that include Blackberry andBluetooth technology. As wireless technologies expand, there have been many device andnetwork trends, such as multi-function devices being developed, growing number of java-equippedmobile devices, and integrating wireless with Internet. Third-generation (3G), WiFi, and Bluetoothare the future of wireless networks. With the growth of wireless systems, there are a growingnumber of challenges that have to be faced, like security and multiple wireless standards and theaffect it has on corporate information. It is imperative that businesses have a strategy to deal withwireless information and it is information managers that must be prepared for any unforeseeninefficiency arising from the use of wireless technologies with respect to data storage, informationretrieval, and content reliability. Introduction Wireless technology is taking the world by storm. Businesses, families, and governmentsall around the world are embracing the wireless concept and it is going to continue to increase bydramatic numbers. Wireless technologies are becoming the central means of business and areincreasing the quality and timeliness of information available. Many companies are now usingwireless-enabled pocket PCs, palm devices and a variety of other handheld computing productsthat can run multiple applications. Wireless devices allow workers to stay productive and availableeven while mired in meetings and away from their office desktops because they will have access tocorporate data, e-mail, IM, and the Internet (Ellison, 2003). It is these inherent advantages thatthat make wireless systems the future of communications.
3 As wireless technology expands, wireless management tools are becoming an absolutenecessity. Wireless devices have matured from being fringe devices to those that requiremanagement to integrate with the rest of the business (NOVELL: 2001). However, businesses arejust beginning to confront wireless management issues (Hamblen, 2001) and understand itsimportance. Wireless network-management tools let companies monitor traffic levels, ensuresecurity, assist capacity planning, and provide an overall picture of network health. It also presentssavings opportunities in both costs and resources. Wireless management is going to continue tobe a big issue in the near future and this article discusses the important issues that surroundwireless information management. Wireless Information Management: Summary This article delves into growing use of wireless systems in the business community and thedifficulties that have evolved from trying to manage the information from these various wirelessdevices. It first examines the various wireless systems that are currently available. There arethose lacking, as yet, wireless telecommunications facilities, such as personal digital assistants(PDAs) and pocket PCs. Then there are those with user-controlled connection to a wirelessfacility, such as mobile phones, text-based phones and Internet phones. Finally, there are thosewireless devices that are always connected, such as pagers, e-mail devices and Bluetooth devices. From there it examines current wireless networking device trends, such as 3G, WiFi, andBluetooth and explains how wireless technology impacts information management today and in thefuture. There are also a variety of challenges that have an immediate impact on managinginformation. Some of the issues wireless information managers face is ensuring that informationfrom remote devices is transferred to corporate memory, maintaining the integrity of the originalrecord, and most importantly, protecting the information in a handheld device from unauthorizeduse.
4 Wireless management issues are just now being confronted and will continue to be anissue in the near future. This article stresses the importance of wireless information managementand how it will allow businesses to understand and prepare for further changes and challenges inwireless technology. Wireless Systems Communication is key in any business setting and having a quality wireless system(s)allows employees to work and more importantly communicate while they are out of the office.There are various wireless systems currently available such as personal digital assistants (PDAs),pocket PCs, mobile (cell, text-based, Internet) phones, pagers, and Blackberry and Bluetoothdevices. Choosing what wireless system is best all depends on your business needs. Of the various wireless systems, it is Blackberry and Bluetooth devices that are the mostinnovative. Blackberry is a handheld device made by RIM (Research In Motion) and is marketedprimarily for its wireless e-mail handling capability (Yager, 2003). It also provides expanded Weband wireless phone service (Strupp, 2003). Blackberry is also a PDA, which can include softwarefor maintaining an integral address book and personal calendar, while also being configured as apager. It is also licensing its technology to a number of wireless companies in order to expandtheir market penetration. Bluetooth is a short-range wireless specification that allows for radio connections betweendevices within a short distance of each other. This allows users of cell phones, pagers, and PDAsto be able to buy a three-in-one phone that can double as a portable phone at home or in the officeand have all mobile and fixed computer devices be totally coordinated (Cummings, 2003).Bluetooth can transfer appointments, contacts, images, audio clips, and Java programs betweenwireless and fixed devices (Yager, 2003).
5 Bluetooth and Blackberry devices make it possible for one device to have multiplefunctions and eliminate the need for a variety of wireless devices. Everyone will be wireless atsome point in time, but the speed at which they achieve that will also depend on their business.However, it is these devices that are taking wireless systems into the future and will become thestandard. Wireless Trends As wireless becomes part of everyday life, there are numerous developments that willcontinue to expand wireless device and network reach. Wireless users can send photos, audio,video, and text data to virtually any other kind of device. There has been a rise of combinationdevices that perform PDA and cell phone functions. In addition, there is continuous developmentof multi-function wireless devices that include telephone service, e-mail, Web browsing, gamingand instant messaging, which integrates wireless with the Internet (Marshall. 2003). Java-enabledmobile units have also continued to rise rapidly and Nokia believes that they will have sold 100million Java-enabled cell phones in roughly three years (Perez, 2001). More specifically, there arecompanies that are working to enable cell phone users to access PC desktops and run Windowsapplications from a connected PDA and send email, and access and manage Outlook calendarand contact data from a mobile phone (DEMOmobile…, 2003), just to name a few. With wireless devices comes the need for wireless networks. Currently, there are threemajor networks: third-generation (3G), WiFi, and Bluetooth. 3G networks are targeted towardscell-phone users and are suppose to be able to carry voice calls in higher volumes, but have yet tomeet any of their expectations. This was due to unrealistic projections by operators, complexitiesin network infrastructure, handset interoperability, and stringent regulatory conditions (3G…, 2003).In addition, it is still being determined whether or not implementing 3G networks are economical
6because of the cost associated with it. However, it is believed that by next year 3G will peak,mainly due to an expected thirst for voice capacity (3G…, 2003). WiFi capabilities are now standard in most computers (WiFi…, 2003) and are expected togrow. This is partially attributed to the fact that its first product certifications under the new WiFiProtected Access (WPA) specification were announced this year (Lawson, 2003). WiFi is alsogrowing because it can provide the high bandwidth and low costs per megabyte needed for PCapplications (Keene, 2003). This has lead WiFi to be included with many new notebook and PDApurchases during 2003 and should reached 80% of all commercial notebooks by 2005 (Keene,2003). Bluetooth has been promoted as the technology that would banish all cables, but it hasbeen slowed since the arrival of 802.11 technologies (Wireless ways…, 2003). Unlike 802.11,Bluetooth moves data short distances enabling devices such as printers, notebooks, and headsetsto talk to one another (Bluetooth, 2003). It has found a niche with PDAs, but Bluetooth technologyis expanding to include printers, notebooks, and cameras. There is also an adapter, whichattaches to a USB port, that can allow non-Bluetooth PCs and notebooks to integrate with otherBluetooth devices (Brown, 2003). Bluetooth has grown so much that shipments of the short-rangewireless technology exceeded 1 million units per week worldwide during the third quarter (Meyer,2003) and it is believed that by 2007 more than 433 million Bluetooth devices will ship worldwide,with an estimated market penetration of 74% (Logitech…, 2003). Wireless Challenges With wireless systems becoming the standard, along with the various wirelessdevelopments, there are numerous challenges that face wireless users. The most contentiousissue has been information security and will be a major issue for the foreseeable future(Anonymous, 2003).
7 Security concerns are a major obstacle to wireless technology, but is at the center of everywireless initiative. Wireless data transmissions are not yet secure because data is broadcast byradio waves and can be inadvertently transmitted to other devices. Security, network, and radiofrequency management tools are still in their infancy (Cox, 2003). The range of potential wirelesssecurity breaches increases as wireless hot spots proliferate in public places and wirelesscompany networks expand (Hatlestad, 2003). In addition, wireless devices can be easilymisplaced or stolen, exposing private information to anyone who finds it. More disturbing is that70% of companies do not even have a policy that tells employees what to do if their wirelessdevice was lost or stolen (Cohn, 2002). The fact is that most wireless access points are difficult tomanage and secure, so there are often breaches in the armor when it comes to securing a network(Ohlhorst, 2003). Securing wireless networks are becoming more difficult with no easy solution. Another difficult challenge facing wireless systems is the fact that there is no “universalwireless standard.” What works with one system many not necessarily work with another. There isa lack of compatibility amongst wireless systems due to competing wireless application protocol(WAP) standards (Wireless…, 2002). Certain standards, such as WiFi and Bluetooth are globallycompatible. They have altered the industry landscape, which has accelerated the demand forwireless monitoring and control applications worldwide (Karayannis, 2003). However, WiFi andBluetooth have lacked sufficient industry support or imposing requirements that are too costly tosatisfy emerging demand for wireless communication (Singer, 2002). Along with evolvingstandards and the introduction of new standards, businesses are forced to frequently performupgrades to the wireless-infrastructure (Galicki, 2003), which can also be very costly. This alsohas a great affect on managing corporate information. The challenge for businesses is determininghow to integrate all of their wireless systems and guarantee that their information will transfer fromwireless to fixed devices.
8 Managing Wireless Information Information is what makes a business, but securing that information and making sure thatit is transferred undamaged from wireless to fixed systems is what can keep you in business. Ashas been mentioned, the wireless systems are continuing to grow and develop. For that reason itis imperative that businesses have a strategy to deal with wireless information, especially whenmore and more consequential information is being stored on wireless devices while employees areout of the office. This task is not as difficult for small businesses as it is for medium to largebusinesses because of the amount of employees using wireless devices. The most important aspect of managing wireless information is protecting it. Only full,incremental and differential backup scheduling can protect vital corporate information (Tanner,2003). However, most wireless devices do not have disk drives and store downloaded informationand computer programs in local memory chips (Phillips, 2002). In addition, there are few wirelessdevices that can have their data easily backed up to traditional storage devices (Phillips, 2002).This task becomes even more difficult when employees also forget to protect and transferimportant information from their wireless device. That is why it is imperative to have authentication,encryption mechanism, coupled with data integrity (Lawson, 2003) Information managers must be prepared for any unforeseen inefficiencies or dependenciesarising from the use of wireless technologies with respect to data storage, information retrieval,protecting records, privacy, and content reliability (Phillips, 2002). Without this preparation wirelessdevices will be a liability to business and lead to ineffective information management. Conclusion From simple pagers to high-tech multi-function PDAs or cell phones, wireless technology ishere to stay. Everyone from the teenager at the mall to the CEO of a major corporation is usingwireless devices. The use of wireless devices is becoming the norm and it will only continue to
9expand, especially in the business world. Wireless technology has had a dramatic impact on theway businesses operate. Now employees can be in constant contact with office and canupload/download any important information in a few seconds. With the development of wireless devices there are numerous challenges that businessesmust face. No longer is important information safely stored in the corporate memory where it iseasier to secure and manage. Employees have information on PDAs, hand-held PCs, and laptops,just to name a few and that information is at a constant risk. The integrity and security of thatinformation is what needs to be protected. The role of the information manager is more important now than it has ever been. Theyare the ones who are responsible for the security and integrity of the information. Businesses mustunderstand the importance of information managers and a sound information managementstrategy. Without a sound strategy the information that is so vital to businesses can become aliability and affect their overall competitiveness. The future of wireless technology is endless and so are the challenges. Businesses areonly now beginning to understand the importance of managing their wireless devices andinformation. It is imperative that they take control of the challenges now before it affects them inthe future. Preparing for the future begins with understanding current wireless developments andchallenges and information managers are key to that preparation. A perspicacious informationmanager will see the problem before it occurs and use their wireless systems effectively in order toensure the security and integrity of the business’s information, especially when everything iswireless and always connected.
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