Table: Where the Wireless Web Works

Businesses flocked to wireless projects as their cost fell by more than 50% in the past two years. Here's what companies are doing:

WORKERS ON THE MOVE: The rollout of data networks helps companies improve customer service by getting info to reps more quickly.

PROBLEM

Pepsi Bottling Group's (PBG ) 700 technicians phoned in to get service-call data--and faxed back billing info.

PROJECT

Now a wireless network sends details to the service rep's handheld. The device zips billing data to the office.

PAYOFF

Service response time cut by 20%. Errors from the old fax system gone. Correct parts ready for pickup.

WIRELESS WORKPLACES: Offices are setting up systems that transmit data from the Web or a company's intranet to employees moving about the workplace.

PROBLEM

Staff at St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital in Houston spent too much time on administrative tasks. Handwritten records had potential for errors.

PROJECT

A wireless network for three of the hospital's floors lets staff check charts, lab results, and patient data, wiping out handwriting errors.

PAYOFF

Staff on the networked floor cut time spent on data entry 30%. The respiratory therapy group cut staff by 20%, saving $1.5 million a year.

SMART MACHINES: Wireless devices in plants and warehouses can automatically collect data from other computers around them, speeding up work flow and eliminating paperwork.

PROBLEM

Office Depot's (ODP ) 2,000 drivers sorted through info from 40-plus deliveries daily. This led to data-entry errors and slowed inventory tracking.

PROJECT

Drivers' handheld devices automatically transfer customer data to the company's Web site when they return each evening.

PAYOFF

No more handwritten bills, which reduced customer complaints about missed deliveries by more than 10% last year.

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