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IBM to help SMBs connect their mobile workforce

IBM is aiming to help small and medium businesses (SMBs) connect their road warriors work force to their corporate data with the launch of its Start Now Wireless Solutions program.

IBM is aiming to help small and medium businesses (SMBs) connect their mobile workforce to their corporate data. The newly announced IBM Start Now Wireless Solutions is designed to allow businesses to provide employees and customer service personnel with mobile office capabilities and access to product and inventory information from wireless devices.

According to IBM research, the wireless market is growing at more than 50 percent a year, and will be an estimated $234 billion market by 2003. The total IT opportunity for small and medium business is more than $300 billion, and customers spend two-thirds of those dollars on solutions.

IBM is hoping that its new IBM Start Now Wireless Solutions program will prove popular to such businesses. The program has been designed to provide employees and customer service personnel with mobile office capabilities and access to product and inventory information from wireless devices.

The solutions are set to be delivered locally and exclusively by trained and qualified IBM Business Partners. They incorporate different combinations of IBM software solutions, such as IBM Mobile Connect V2.5, DB2 Everyplace Enterprise Edition and Lotus Domino Everyplace Enterprise Server, as well as selected IBM eServer systems, ThinkPad notebooks, and services.

The program also includes a complete marketing and enablement program, providing businesses with recommended software and hardware configurations, instructions for proposing, implementing and extending a complete solution; tested implementation scenarios, independent software vendor (ISV) tools and financing options.

“IBM's Start Now Wireless Solutions will give SMB customers a fast, inexpensive and scalable solution designed to address the challenge of getting information to employees and customers when and where they need it,” said Mohammed Kara, IBM Software Channel Manager Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan. “These wireless solutions — until now believed only to be within the reach of large corporations— will help increase productivity of field personnel and improve customer satisfaction for small and medium businesses without breaking their budgets or requiring advanced in-house technical staff.”

IBM has outlined three typical scenarios to describe the program’s anticipated capabilities:

Mobile Office: Mobile employees will be able to synchronize their wireless device with the company mail server in order to get her latest mail, access centralized address book, update their calendar and schedule meetings. Providing the employee with anytime/anywhere ability to utilise this information turns what was previously “dead time” into usable time.

Customer Care: A repair technician on the customer’s site, using wireless access to corporate data, can check on customer details, replacement part price and availability, and then reserve the desired part. Off-line access to this data on a PDA allows staff to place new orders at any convenient time or place and have the information instantly synchronized to the corporate database. The resulting increase in turn around time leads to an increase in customer satisfaction.

Operational Productivity: Centralised support staff is able to schedule client appointments based on the availability of mobile field personnel. Mobile field reps are able to enter their availability and track time utilization and problem resolution, and they can be informed of urgent issues. The anytime/anywhere two way transfer of data results in improved productivity and responsiveness.

The software components of the IBM Start Now Wireless Solutions consist of the following:

Lotus Domino Everyplace Enterprise Server, which is designed to let organisations provide both wireless and wired synchronisation solutions to mobile workers quickly and easily by leveraging the collaboration power of Lotus Domino.

DB2 Everyplace Enterprise Edition is a relational database and enterprise synchronisation system for mobile and embedded devices and is designed to enable enterprise application functionality and enterprise data to be extended to mobile devices such as personal digital assistants and smart phones. DB2 Everyplace can also be embedded into devices and appliances to increase their functionality and market appeal.

IBM Mobile Connect Version 2.5 allows organizations to directly transfer information from multiple handheld devices directly to corporate systems, without the need to synchronize via the PC. It enables 2-way relational database synchronization, 2-way file transfer, and the remote installation of applications. IBM Mobile Connect also supports direct synchronization with Lotus Notes and Microsoft Exchange for server based synchronisation of e-mail, calendars, contacts and tasks.

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