Jumeirah Group pushes on with i-mate solution

Jumeirah Group has picked a push e-mail solution from mobile device vendor i-mate, a significant deal that is freeing hundreds of its senior executives from their desks to make them fully mobile.

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By  Chris Whyattt Published  May 28, 2006

Jumeirah Group has picked a push e-mail solution from mobile device vendor i-mate, a significant deal that is freeing hundreds of its senior executives from their desks to make them fully mobile. Given that the Dubai-based hospitality group said it tested every other solution available on the market, its selection of i-mate’s mobility platform represents something of a coup for the vendor, which specialises in Microsoft Windows Mobile devices and applications. With Etisalat bringing BlackBerry to the UAE this month (see IT Weekly 20-26 May, 2006), and a host of other new solutions now coming to market in the Middle East, the regional enterprise mobility space is becoming increasingly competitive. “We were looking for a device that would free operators of the hotels from staying at their computers behind their desks all day long monitoring e-mails,” Joe Tesfai, Jumeirah’s chief technology officer, told IT Weekly. “When we first looked at the market we tried every other competitor of i-mate. But we finally decided this was the way to go, because our back-end systems are all Microsoft compatible. We didn’t even need an upgrade on the server,” he said. Between 600 to 700 executives are now using the solution, with the i-mate devices proving so popular that some of these employees have now even dispensed with their laptops, Tesfai claimed. Jumeirah tested Research In Motion’s (RIM) BlackBerry solution externally, via its employees in London and New York, but Tesfai revealed that they found more functionality in the i-mate devices because of the compatibility with Microsoft. “Our colleagues in London had the choice to use BlackBerry or the i-mate,” he said. “It was definitely mandatory for Dubai that we go with i-mate, but externally they had a choice and they chose i-mate,” he added. In Dubai, the testing period with i-mate lasted for seven months and full deployment of its devices, corporate applications and support services, has been live since March. Jumeirah — which owns the Burj Al Arab, Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Emirates Towers, Madinat Jumeirah, plus hotels in London and New York — said that i-mate’s mobility platform would give workers the crucial ability to stay connected to their desktop and all its applications, wherever they were, giving them the chance to react quickly in the demanding 24-hour hospitality service environment. “Carrying the K-Jam or the JasJar [i-mate devices], we have found ourselves travelling lighter and having access to our e-mails and files wherever we are globally,” said Tesfai. “They just pick up the devices and go. This fits in with our very aggressive expansion plans,” he added, pointing out that Jumeirah planned to become a 40-hotel chain by 2009. Jumeirah and i-mate both said that part of the reason for their tie-up was because the two companies are both locally-grown with a global presence. “With the amount of new hotels being developed in the local Dubai market and the increasingly competitive nature of the international hospitality business, hotels are rightly looking at technology as an enabler,” said Jim Morrison, CEO and founder of i-mate. “In this vein, the i-mate enterprise solution will give the Jumeirah hotels yet another important competitive advantage in the market,” he added.

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