The Technologies That Came in from the Cold

Carl Weinschenk

The work of the IT department is getting broader as a wider variety of technologies and platforms become everyday tools -- and every day concerns. That's a good thing, but it certainly suggests that folks need to stay on their toes and be open to new ways of doing things.

Yesterday, I wrote a post about the progress being made in the fixed mobile convergence (FMC) sector. The upshot was that despite missteps by the marketers, the ability to use cellular, landline and wireless networks in a fluid manner is so compelling that it is gradually moving from being an option to something central to a company's bottom line and ability to compete.


This isn't the first recent example of an approach coming in from the cold. In June, the Aberdeen Group's Andrew Borg released a report entitled Wireless LAN 2009: From Network of Convenience to Business-Critical Infrastructure. The crux of the argument made by Borg-whom I interviewed shortly after the report was released-is that organizations that treat their wireless local-area network (WLANs) as integral parts of their communications infrastructure and not poor stepchildren will save money and get more out of them. Network World's John Cox offers a good rundown of Borg's work on the subject.


WLANs and FMC are related, of course. The WLAN supports the FMC platform deployed by the IT department. They stand on their own, however, as discrete examples of how technology grows more central to a company's fortunes over time: It is possible to roll out FMC on a substandard WLAN or upgrade the WLAN without implementing FMC.


More importantly, the moves to make FMC and WLANs more central parts of a company's communications team illustrate the natural progression of technology from outsider to key player. It's not hard to think of other examples. In its earliest iterations-even before they achieved the rudimentary corporate acceptance and attention that is the point from which Borg starts-corporate WLANs were nothing more than ad hoc, under-the-radar consumer access points (APs) stuck into PC USB ports by enterprising employees. Cell phones are another example. They were well established in the consumer world and were informally used by business people long before they were seriously addressed by enterprises both from the security and management sides.


In the bigger picture, these examples illustrate three things: That telecommunications continues to invade the enterprise, that techniques once considered add-ons tend to become core tools as their efficacy is proven, and that organizations and their staffs drag their feet out of the reluctance to invest and to change.

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