Sprint Nextel aims at professional services

Sprint Nextel has launched a professional services company for enterprise mobility.

A new division of Sprint Nextel isn't pushing phones or minutes: it's selling brains.

Sprint Enterprise Mobility will help large enterprises set up whole mobility systems, whatever the customer needs to make its employees productive outside the office, according to Bill Halbert, president of the new company launched Thursday. In the process, it may set up or even maintain service contracts with carriers that compete with Sprint Nextel, if it's right for the customer, Halbert said.

Sprint Nextel was formed earlier this year through the merger of Sprint and Nextel Communications, neither of which had a large professional services business focused on mobility, according to Halbert.

Halbert, who founded BT Group's Syntegra global consulting and systems integration business, sees mobility-focused professional services as a growing need as mobile data technology emerges from its infancy. For example, although many large businesses and government entities are already using mobile data devices to do work in the field, most of those have been set up by individual departments without central planning, he said.

"A lot of those existing investments .... will have grown up from the end users inward rather than [with] some design process that had the business outcome in mind," Halbert said.

Sprint Enterprise Mobility aims to implement mobile communications systems from the top down with an eye to cutting costs, increasing productivity and becoming more competitive, he said. It may also help a customer establish or modify its business processes to better use mobile communications. In addition to helping make employees mobile, the company will tackle problems such as shipping and inventory tracking, using technologies such as RFID (radio frequency identification), Halbert said.

The company will provide consultation, system development and integration, and project management, as well as operation, service and support. A customer could hand over to Sprint Enterprise Mobility the responsibility for acquiring and setting up devices, integrating applications into them and paying the ongoing service bills from carriers, Halbert said. In such a case, Sprint Enterprise Mobility might bill by transaction, such as charging an insurance company for each claim it is able to settle in the field using mobile devices, he said. The company will subcontract portions of the project, such as integration of particular enterprise applications, as needed while managing the overall project, Halbert said.

U.S. Fortune 1000 companies and government entities are the initial target customer base, Halbert said. The company is based in Sprint Nextel's home city of Overland Park, Kansas, but probably will move its headquarters to a more significant business center within the next several months, he added.

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