Businesses of all sizes are increasingly relying on wireless data communications to improve efficiency, retain employees and customers, and reduce costs. Starting with cell phones and continuing all the way up the technological continuum to the most sophisticated navigation, tracking, Internet, and entertainment systems, wireless services are becoming more and more an integral part of the way we do business on the road. Current advances in technology, along with improved pricing, expanding network coverage, and lest we forget, those all-important success stories, have the fleet industry positioned for significant and rapid growth in wireless data applications. Wireless technology for vehicle management is rapidly approaching the critical mass stage. You know the story: Critical mass comes when a technology changes categories from "We don't need and can't afford that" to "Why are we the last to be getting this?" Growth will occur across a number of key market segments, according to analysts. Telematics: Breaking Through the Barriers More than a million vehicles will come equipped with telematics by the end of 2003, according to Vertical Wireless Associates. Advances in voice recognition are expected to break through the driver distraction, safety, and ease-of-use barriers, transforming onboard telematics from a technological curiosity into a mainstream set of applications. High-Tech Transportation As fleets in the transportation industry become more comfortable with and reliant upon vehicle electronics and wireless data networks, they are becoming more ambitious in their plans for the use of these technologies. Every day, wireless technology seems a little less exotic, a little less extravagant, and a lot more pragmatic and essential. The number of businesses considering the new purchase of onboard electronics is now twice as high as it was three years ago, according to Vertical Wireless. Economical Asset Tracking The availability of GPS data is allowing business owners to determine the exact location of their rolling assets. By demonstrating reduced costs through fewer misplaced vehicles and higher equipment availability and efficiency, mobile asset tracking is beginning to make the transition from high-end service to a part of every fleet's business model. The availability of miniaturized, low-cost GPS chip sets is making the business case even more compelling, according to analysts. The Best Reason The best reason to buy into wireless technology for your vehicles is not so you can be the first on the block, or to stay ahead of the curve. The best reason is because it's not just an expense -- it can be a practical investment.