Return on Investment

To effectively evaluate wireless technology's Return on Investment (ROI), you must analyze the business process to which you want to add wireless capability. Documenting the process's input, output, and operators will help you identify where and how wireless technology can improve the process's performance.

Wireless solutions can unquestionably improve productivity, efficiency, and responsiveness. In certain business processes, using a wireless solution to limit data entry to menu selections (instead of allowing more free-form data entry) can increase accuracy and can even create a competitive advantage, leading to increased revenue. In addition, faster responses to internal and external communication can increase the productivity of supply and information chains.

Some companies have measured a positive ROI for wireless sales automation, customer relationship management (CRM), and field staff applications. For example, several broadband cable service providers have implemented wireless work orders and other applications for technicians. Those service providers have observed productivity increases because technicians no longer need to record work order details twice—first manually in the field, then electronically back at the office.

Also playing a role in the ROI is that the per-user pricing model that most carriers are likely to use will result in a relatively small cost for wireless service. Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) device costs are low, and carriers provide basic support for hardware problems. Microsoft Mobile Information 2001 Server applications are intuitive and don't require an extensive investment in training. On the expense side of ROI calculations, Mobile Information Server requires an additional server and hosting in the demilitarized zone (DMZ), which translates to an additional investment in hardware and software.

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