ABI Research Finds Horizontal Applications Starting to Augment Verticals for Enterprise Wi-Fi

Firm predicts market expansion as a result of enterprise Wi-Fi usage that follows business processes across a number of vertical applications.

by / July 23, 2007
Wi-Fi vendors continue to generate substantial revenue from the key vertical markets, such as healthcare and manufacturing, that were the technology's early adopters. But a new study from ABI Research shows an increasing trend to enterprise Wi-Fi usage that follows business processes across a number of vertical needs. These include real-time location services (RTLS) -- tracking personnel and equipment, especially for security -- and fixed-mobile telephony convergence (VoWi-Fi).

RTLS applications employ Wi-Fi labels embedded in equipment, or in badges worn by staff, which are read by Wi-Fi access points when within range.

According to vice president and research director Stan Schatt, "We're now reaching a tipping point where there will be horizontal growth predicated on business processes that cut across different verticals. That's where we're going to see major market expansion in the future. For instance, a large, conservative CPG manufacturing company may not have seen a compelling reason to deploy Wi-Fi in its corporate headquarters. But now, Wi-Fi offers a way for it to manage assets and security, and monitor work in progress, so it becomes much more desirable."

ABI Research does warn of potential pitfalls, however. Aerohive's recent introduction of a so-called "third generation" access point increases the likelihood of customer confusion about the benefits of one or another architecture, and raises the specter of a renewed "analysis paralysis" among buyers, such as hindered the Wi-Fi market's early growth. Vendors must also ensure continued upward interoperability on the path to the eventual IEEE 802.11n standard.

While the research indicates that by 2012, revenue from enterprise Wi-Fi access points will surpass that from consumer access points, the residential market will also deliver strong growth as the "digital home" phenomenon spreads from North America to the rest of the industrialized world. "Once homes have Wi-Fi in place," notes Schatt, "they become candidates for all kinds of embedded Wi-Fi consumer products."

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