Writing Mobile & Wireless UPDATE articles for the past couple of years, I've seen the industry grow from niche-only technologies to highly mature enterprise and consumer solutions. Current trends indicate that more than 40 percent of companies have implemented mobile and wireless solutions and another 30 percent of companies are planning to implement mobile and wireless solutions within the next year. Therefore, about 70 percent of all companies will be using mobile and wireless solutions within the next year.

Many people ask me, What's next? The foundation of mobile and wireless technology is already in place, so over the next few years, we'll see vendors fine-tuning and enhancing their solutions with some new technologies. Let's start taking a look at what we might expect from future mobile and wireless solutions and how certain technologies will play a key role in next-generation solutions.

What are enterprise mobile and wireless solutions all about? To quote a colleague, "Mobile and wireless solutions are about enabling the real-time enterprise, putting computing at the point of activity." In a real-time enterprise, delays and costs are minimized and data flows efficiently through separate business processes. Companies that don't place computing at the point of activity will continue to suffer delays, such as those related to tracking activities and billing clients for services. More and more, mobile and wireless solutions will be essential for companies striving to achieve the efficiencies of real-time operations.

In previous Mobile & Wireless UPDATEs, I've talked at length about current and upcoming technologies that you can leverage to enable mobile and wireless solutions. I believe that in the coming years, we'll see three primary technology categories play significant roles in mobile and wireless solutions and the real-time enterprise: location-aware applications, always-available applications, and intelligent notifications.

Location-Aware Applications Location-Based Services (LBS) and the ability to create location-aware applications will be compelling factors in the mobile and wireless arena. The ability to use a simple cell phone to auto-locate yourself or your fleet opens up a world of new solution possibilities. Some companies are already leveraging LBS in the enterprise, but the technology will become even more vital in the future. For details about LBS, see my article "Location-Based Services" at the following URL. http://www.winnetmag.com/articles/index.cfm?articleid=26546&pg=1&show=525

Always-Available Applications I'm sure you know from experience that wireless networks aren't always available or reliable for data connectivity. At the end of the day, users who are experiencing a connectivity problem don't care whether the wireless network caused it--all that matters is that they can't use a given application. Therefore, always-available applications and architecture will become increasingly popular. An always-on application synchronizes with enterprise data in the background; users remain unaware of the synchronization and always have the data they need in the device, even if a wireless connection isn't available. Such functionality is already available for email connectivity in Research In Motion (RIM) BlackBerry devices and the Pocket PC Phone Edition. However, expect always-on technology to expand to every application on the device, including custom solutions.

Intelligent Notifications Proactive notifications are already an impressive feature of most mobile and wireless devices. However, technologies such as Short Message Service (SMS) are limited. Solutions that provide intelligent notification functionality, permitting users to receive data when and how they want it, will become more prevalent. By combining data push and pull functionality, intelligent notifications will let users interact directly with back-end data and will trigger synchronization and other device functions.

On a final note, the structure and schedule of Mobile & Wireless UPDATE will change as of Wednesday, June 4. This newsletter will now appear biweekly as a component of the HTML-formatted Networking UPDATE. So watch for John Ruley's commentary next week in Networking UPDATE: Mobile & Wireless Edition. As always, feel free to email John or myself if you have feedback or suggestions. We want this newsletter to be as valuable as possible to you.

In the June 18 edition of Networking UPDATE: Mobile & Wireless Edition, I'll continue looking at the future of Mobile & Wireless solutions. See you then.