By Carl Weinschenk
With Nigel Ballard, director of Wi-Fi for Matrix Networks. Ballard, whose main business is deploying WLANs, says that the main task in selling the idea of Wi-Fi is convincing the skeptics within the organization.
This interview originally appeared in the IT Business Edge weekly report on Empowering a Mobile Workforce. To see a complete listing of IT Business Edge weekly reports or sign up for this free technology intelligence agent, visit www.itbusinessedge.com.
Question: Are people starting to accept corporate use of Wi-Fi?
Ballard: I think pretty much everyone realizes that installing a Wi-Fi in an enterprise isn't rocket science and is very empowering. Microsoft, for example, claims employees add one useful hour per day by being constantly connected. Through my own experience over three years, I don't doubt that at all.
Question: Is acceptance across the board?
Ballard: The one thing that holds a majority of enterprises from leaping headfirst into corporate Wi-Fi deployments is that there is one single person in the corporation who doesn't want it. The IT director and the CEO want it. The salespeople want it. Those people that spend one day a week in the office definitely want it. Then one guy brings up security. They keep reading all the scare stories, and he says, "We can't do it." It's my job to persuade these people that with the right type of tools and deployments, it's not an issue.
Question: So it's a matter of convincing that one hesitant person? It sounds frustrating.
Ballard: There are a number of companies out there willing to be educated....The irony is that it's not a case of budget. "What's seven grand?" they say, "A drop in the ocean." They just didn't know [secure Wi-Fi] was available. It's a matter of knowledge and education. I have a deployment trial through purchase now where the company had wired two buildings separated by a car park linked with fiber underground. They had been playing with long-range cordless phones....None of them worked as advertised. They came to me. I said Wi-Fi can do it, and gave them secure hot-desking and let them wander across the car park [to boot]. I installed it free for two weeks. I put all the equipment in and set it up. After two weeks, I asked how it worked....We are now moving the demo into a sale.