FRAMINGHAM (04/06/2000) - Armed with notebook PCs, cell phones, pagers and personal digital assistants, today's mobile workers hit the road every week only to spend an inordinate amount of time using the information appliances that were supposed to save them time.
For example, some mobile workers enter up to 32 digits into their devices just to bypass expensive hotel phone charges to make an outbound long-distance credit-card call.
PeopleSoft Inc. in Pleasanton, California, thinks it has found a better way, or at least one that mitigates some of the hassles of remote communication. The enterprise software provider just signed an outsourcing deal with Access Line Communications Corp. in Bellevue, Washington, to handle communications support for its mobile workers.
The agreement gives each PeopleSoft worker a single telephone number that is programmed to follow the employee, said Neil Hennessy, vice president of engineering for the information technology division at PeopleSoft.
The number, said Hennessy, "lets an employee schedule (his) routines." No matter where the employee is, he can be reached through a single phone number.
For example, if an employee travels Tuesday through Thursday, the system can be set up to send all calls to the employee's cell phone on those days. On Mondays and Fridays, calls can be automatically routed to the employee's office or the employee's home should he telecommute on those days.
The system also accommodates pagers and faxes. Hennessy, who personally uses Access Line, said he thinks of his pager as a message waiting light. He can set it up to notify him when he has an e-mail, fax or voice mail waiting. Faxes can be sent to the same single phone number and then viewed by the recipient over the Web.
PeopleSoft has yet to roll out all of Access Line's services, but Hennessy said the company is considering a trial that would include other services such as universal Web-based mailboxes that receive and store faxes and voice mail that can be accessed from anywhere with a Web browser.
Access Line's major competition is MessageClick Inc. in New York, according to Megan Gurley, an analyst at The Yankee Group in Boston.
Gurley said outsourcing of communications "is absolutely a trend in the making.
Access Line is taking all of the PBX (personal branch exchange) stuff right offsite."