Mobility

Mobility

Travelling time need no longer be dead time – mobile phones proved that but what about access to other applications you use when you are out of the office?

Businesses no longer need to be told by resellers that a mobile enterprise is a productive and streamlined enterprise. The message is clear – to keep up with the competition businesses must accommodate the mobile workforce giving them real-time information at their fingertips.

 

The faster a business responds to customer demand, the better their service and profit margins. As workers cut their ties from the wired infrastructure, resellers must identify the individual needs of each business and exploit the killer applications that will facilitate a profitable turnover.

For example, imagine being able to have your email read to you whilst stuck in traffic on the M25 and being able to use voice commands to respond and schedule meetings in Outlook. The possibilities for users are endless but what are the opportunities for resellers and how should they exploit them?

Simon Brown, Director, Scalable Networks, says a simple concept is ‘follow me’ applications. “Whether voice or data, these are essential for minimising downtime during travel or time spent away from the office. The ability to take a desktop telephone number wherever you go – and to work as though in the office, irrespective of location, is a cost-effective and easy way for companies to take advantage of anywhere anytime connectivity.

“However, it is the delivery of critical applications such as sales or financial databases to those in the field that really allows for a business to be conducted seamlessly. Field teams often spend long periods of time away from the office base, and stock/finance/pricing information must be readily available and easily accessible to strengthen the business opportunity.

“The key to identifying the killer application depends solely on the reseller/customer relationship. Feedback is invaluable and resellers must utilise this if they are to encourage profitability through strategic IT decisions. By engaging with their customers, resellers are able to consult businesses on which mobility solutions and applications can be tailored to their specific needs, in order to enhance productivity and efficiency.”

Brown concludes, “Such advances in mobility and the delivery of applications across a dispersed workforce have been well timed with changes in work styles, and are helping businesses to expect the unexpected. Following the July 7th attacks in London this year businesses were reminded of the importance of remote working capabilities and its role within business continuity. Allowing workers to gain real-time access to business critical information anytime anywhere is the accelerant to business agility and success.”

 

Drivers

The market drivers for mobility solutions’ to increase employee productivity regardless of location, reduce operational costs and improve real- time access to information are helping fuel interest in mobility services.

Nigel Jones, marketing and business development manager, Alcatel, “The challenge for resellers is that many don’t have the necessary resources and knowledge to provide an end-to-end mobility offering, and as a consequence, could lose out on business. Collaboration and partnerships within the channel will therefore be key to help resellers acquire the necessary new skills mix for deploying successful mobility solutions.

“A ‘one size fits all’ approach to providing mobility solutions won’t work. Unique user profiles in an organisation will demand specific solutions.

For example, the mobile sales team will have different needs compared to the on-site project team members.

“Fixed/mobile convergence to provide seamless access to voice and applications services, whether in the office or out on the road, is high on the agenda for many organisations. Until recently, mobility solutions have been seen as a separate entity to communication devices inside the organisation’s fixed network. By integrating the two worlds more effectively, resellers can improve enduser experience, productivity and ultimately achieve higher levels of customer service.

“It is the resellers who can work with both vendors and one another to provide an end-to-end offering to customers, who are most likely to improve their margins in this area. The essential ingredient for successful mobility solutions is to fully understand the customer’s existing business processes and determine how a mobility solution can unlock existing potential across the business.”

 

Enterprise Solutions

As is often the case, the more sophisticated mobility solutions are initially designed with the enterprise customer in mind. For example, Nortel’s Multimedia Communications Server (MCS) 5100 is a SIP-based tool that delivers voice, call management, desktop video calling, collaboration tools and personalisation services to a distributed workforce irrespective of which device they are using. It also offers enhanced video capabilities with multi-point video conferencing, new Instant Messaging capabilities, and web application collaboration that allows applications and documents to be shared in real-time.

Paul Rowe, Senior Manager, Enterprise Multimedia Solutions, Nortel, “MCS converges voice and video communications functions through IP networking to allow communications access at any location. MCS can be used in a variety of environments, such as in a home office or at a remote customer site, to increase mobility for an enterprise’s staff and extend the ‘virtual enterprise.’

“Nortel further developed this by working with Research In Motion (RIM) in a joint initiative aimed at delivering secure, full-featured, SIP-enabled business communications over wireless LAN. The companies have been focusing on providing interoperability and integration between RIM’s BlackBerry enterprise platform and Nortel’s MCS 5100. By integrating these systems, enterprise customers will be able to use the new BlackBerry 7270 to securely and reliably access IP telephony, corporate email and other business applications via the wireless LAN.

“A final initiative to mention is the work Nortel are doing with Microsoft. The two companies have come together to provide collaborative real-time capabilities for businesses through integration of Microsoft Office Communicator 2005 and Office Live Communication Server with Nortel’s open, SIPbased communications solution. The converged solution will provide desktop call control using Microsoft Office Communicator for telephony infrastructures built on Nortel Communication Server 1000. Nortel’s open SIP application interface allows customers to build solution sets that meet their business needs with flexibility and simplicity.”

Another vendor that is working closely with Microsoft is Mitel (see this issue PBX Review) Mitel has had solutions available in the market-place that deliver precisely the sort of capabilities described for several years and according to the vendor uptake has been very high with some channels and customers but less so with others. This appears to be very much the experience of most vendors.

Campbell Williams, head of solutions marketing EMEA, Mitel says the message is compelling, the usage model is fantastic, but the business case is simply not there because during the early years of the 21st Century, customers were not buying productivity tools.

“Users demanded hard and fast RoI, or they would not make a purchase decision – therefore these tools were typically bought by organisations such as professional services and financial services businesses, or any other business that put an extremely high value on their people and their time.

“Moreover, vendors did not do a good enough job of wrapping the individual tools that make up mobility solutions into a single, holistic user proposition. The industry tried to sell unified messaging, and when uptake was low, they started talking about unified communications. This meant as little to the customer community as unified messaging, and had as little impact.”

 

Identify Issues

Mitel’s Mobility Solutions include unified messaging, but also the ability to telework, the ability to hotdesk, inbuilding wireless products, and collaborative working from anywhere including via softphone.

Williams, “However, this is not what we talk about. What we talk about – and this is Mitel’s Top Tip for selling – is the customer’s business issue; we paint a picture of all the problems we have communicating, solving problems, handling routine queries, doing our jobs and serving our customers. Then we paint a picture of how simple we can make the customers’ lives.We don’t talk about unified messaging, Microsoft LCS integration and hotdesking, we describe a “day in the life” of a business user and describe how they will use technology in a practical way to make it easier for them to do their jobs. Buzz phrases, esoteric nomenclature and acronyms have no place in this solutions-centric environment. By talking to the customer in their own language about their own issues, we leave them with the impression that “this company understands my business and our issues”.

Moreover, we support our channels by ensuring that they are trained on mobility solutions and not the component products. That way the reseller can articulate what problems we’re solving and the customer value proposition of our mobility solutions.”

 

T-Mobile Launch the MDA Pro

Key features:

Offers several connectivity options, including 3G, GPRS and Wi-Fi

Powerful ‘mini laptop’ experience with a clear 3.6” LCD pivoting display and full QWERTY keyboard.

Unique pivoting communicator enables the MDA Pro to double as both a PDA and a notebook .

 

No Afterthoughts

“As a business telephone system designed in the 21st Century with modern business practises in mind, maximiser treats mobility as prerequisite rather than an afterthought,” states Robin Hayman, Director of Product Management for SpliceCom. “As such it’s perhaps unsurprising that our resellers have done such a spectacular job selling into businesses where employees spend very little time in the office or at their desk. Sales into the construction, education and the automotive industries have been particularly successful for maximiser.”

As an application, Mobility transcends both industry sector and business size – indeed in some ways its even more important for employees of a small business to be contactable at all times than it is for those within a larger organisation. To satisfy this requirement maximiser offers a range of integral Mobility solutions as standard and for no extra cost.

“We’re particularly excited by some of the new Mobility features we’re currently trialling in Version 3 of our maximiser software,” continues Robin Hayman. “In particular, we’ve enhanced our Unified Messaging offering to allow those out of the office to have their emails read back to them over phone – and then reply to them by speaking their response. And with SpliceCom’s independent focus, this will work for companies using Lotus Notes, Novell Groupwise and Apple Mail as well as those running Microsoft Exchange,” concludes Hayman.

 

Changing Rules

Earlier this year Samsung Business Communications launched a suite of new mobility for today’s ‘virtual enterprise’ environment, and sought to challenge the established perceptions of business communications.

Ali Zartash-Lloyd, sales and marketing director for Samsung Business Communications, “The core of this vision is that businesses need communications capabilities that reflect their increasing operational flexibility. The traditional office-centric view of how businesses work, and how communications services are delivered, no longer fits the increasing drive towards mobility and the need to drive down fixed costs. In short Samsung is changing the rules for business communications.”

Samsung introduced three new products designed to reshape the way businesses communicate with their customers and suppliers, and internally with different elements of their own organisation.

OfficeServ Wireless IP to deliver wireless voice and data transmission while also echoing the design and ergonomics of the traditional mobile handsets.

OfficeServ SoftPhone, a software application for the PC, laptop or PDA that enables the mobile worker to have all the functionality of their office phone, delivering ‘workanywhere’ flexibility from a hotel room to an airport hotspot, or in fact any location with internet connectivity.

Finally OfficeServ 12 which was introduced to provide small businesses or branch offices of large enterprises with an integrated wireless and IP small business telephone system.

Ali Zartash-Lloyd, “Managers and employees want more freedom in how they work and are increasingly seeking homeworking and flexible working patterns as a method for improving productivity and quality of life. These trends are supported by Government’s desire to meet environmental targets and its promotion of ‘virtual enterprise’ initiatives.

“The Broadband revolution means that business grade connectivity is available pretty much everywhere at a fixed cost. This connectivity is now set to move from the fixed network to wireless and mobile networks, further increasing location flexibility.

 
Alcatel – www.alcatel.co.uk
Huthwaite International – www.huthwaite.co.uk
Mitel – www.mitel.com
Nortel – www.nortel.com
Samsung BC – www.samsung-telecoms.co.uk
SpliceCom – www.splicecom.com
TeleWare – www.teleware.com
 
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