New Study Shows U.S. Manufacturing Firms Embracing Wireless to Reduce Operating Costs and Increase Customer Satisfaction | Automation.com

New Study Shows U.S. Manufacturing Firms Embracing Wireless to Reduce Operating Costs and Increase Customer Satisfaction

February 072005
Nextel Poll Finds Enterprises Choosing BlackBerry® Handhelds, Deploying WLANs, Consolidating Devices and Preparing for RFID

RESTON, Va. – February 4, 2005 – A major new opinion poll of information technology and telecom decision makers at U.S. manufacturing companies shows increased adoption of wireless technology in day-to-day business operations as a cost-effective way to improve operations and customer service. This movement is being fueled by the availability of push-to-talk service, wireless local area network (WLAN), and a desire by companies to extend their wireless barcode scanning capabilities to ready the enterprise for the advent of radio frequency identification (RFID) applications.

The survey, commissioned by Nextel and conducted by Harris Interactive®, which polled 76 manufacturing executives across the United States, found the industry’s top four uses of wireless technology as cellular calling for executives and sales staff (100%), push-to-talk service (59%), BlackBerry® devices (68%) and barcode scanning (78%). In addition, manufacturers highlighted the growing use of WLANs for their office campuses and warehouses.

The manufacturing sector also identified geographic coverage (55%) as the primary criterion for selecting a wireless carrier, far outpacing data network speeds (18%) and pricing (17%), opening the door for providers who can extend their geographic reach to include deeper in-building coverage. In addition, planned expansions of bar coding and RFID deployment (36%) topped the list of wireless priorities for manufacturers, and a majority (72%) of them said they see a need for a combination of cellular and WiFi capabilities. Lastly, nearly half (49%) of respondents thought a wireless phone integrated with a handheld PC or BlackBerry® device would be useful.

“The goal of the survey was to document the emerging role of wireless communications in large and medium-sized enterprises in manufacturing,” said Barry Goodstadt, vice president and senior consultant for the Customer Loyalty Management Research Group at Harris Interactive. “We elicited a very detailed response from participants by investigating not only the wireless devices and applications companies are using, but also by examining the wireless benefits and network attributes they most value, as well as the return on investment and competitive advantage they are deriving. Viewed through these many lenses, this snapshot of wireless communications signals the technology’s strategic significance and growing foothold in the industry today.”

According to Leslie Baker, vice president of manufacturing for Nextel, “The factory of the future is happening today as manufacturers realize the benefits of mobile communications within the four walls of their operations and across their extended supply chains. The good news for Nextel is that what manufacturers are asking for – and using – now, including push-to-talk, ubiquitous coverage inside and out, and consolidated devices suited for both voice and data, are the areas where we continue to excel. In addition, we are working hand-in-hand with our customers to help them with their RFID strategies, ensuring the benefits they are deriving from wireless today will be extended even further as RFID matures and is deployed en masse.”

Methodology
Harris Interactive® conducted the study for Nextel by telephone in the Fall of 2004 among 76 U.S. executives in the manufacturing sector (SICs 20-26 & 50-51) who make information technology and telecom decisions, of whom 34 work for companies with 1,000 or more employees and 42 work for companies with 500-999 employees. Figures for size of class and industry were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population.

In theory, with a sample of this size, one could say with 95 percent certainty that the results have a sampling error of plus or minus 12 percentage points.

About Harris Interactive®
Harris Interactive Inc. (www.harrisinteractive.com), the 15th largest and fastest-growing market research firm in the world, is a Rochester, N.Y.-based global research company that blends premier strategic consulting with innovative and efficient methods of investigation, analysis and application. Known for The Harris Poll® and for pioneering Internet-based research methods, Harris Interactive conducts proprietary and public research to help its clients achieve clear, material and enduring results.

Harris Interactive combines its intellectual capital, databases and technology to advance market leadership through U.S. offices and wholly owned subsidiaries: London-based HI Europe (www.hieurope.com), Paris-based Novatris (www.novatris.com), Tokyo-based Harris Interactive Japan, through newly acquired WirthlinWorldwide (www.wirthlinworldwide.com), a Reston, Virginia-based research and consultancy firm ranked 25th largest in the world, and through an independent global network of affiliate market research companies. EOE M/F/D/V

About Nextel
Nextel Communications, a FORTUNE 200 company based in Reston, Va., is a leading provider of fully integrated wireless communications services and has built the largest guaranteed all-digital wireless network in the country covering thousands of communities across the United States. Today 95 percent of FORTUNE 500Ò companies are Nextel customers. Nextel and Nextel Partners, Inc. currently serve 297 of the top 300 U.S. markets where approximately 261 million people live or work.

Visit their website at www.nextelpartners.com.
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