SAN MATEO (06/23/2000) - As corporate workers armed with wireless devices gain increased mobility, a spate of companies will use this week's PC Expo in New York to showcase technologies designed to improve wireless collaboration methods and streamline mobile access to corporate data.
"The trend now is [using wireless] to get more people out of the central office and into the field, not just for sales but to get closer to the client base and to inject [workers] more fully into the supply chain," said Tim Scannell, industry analyst at Mobile Insights Inc., in Mountain View, California.
@hand Corp., in Austin, Texas will announce a mobile rapid application development environment for remote deployment and centrally managed corporate applications targeted mainly at remote sales forces and field service workers.
The key benefit of the environment appears to be its capability of downloading and uploading corporate data while allowing remote workers to run the program locally on a handheld PC when disconnected.
Scottsdale, Arizona-based Rental Service, the second largest construction equipment company in the United States, piloted the @hand technology for its 500-person sales force.
"The guys were taking 20 minutes to upload and 20 minutes to download over a RAS [remote access server] 800 line and so we were paying by the minute," said Jeff Cummings, director of marketing and sales at Rental Service.
The @hand solution at Rental Service allowed the sales force to download construction leads in their territories in about a minute, taking another minute to upload changes at the end of the day, Cummings noted.
"From the old to the new we saved about $100,000 in the first year," Cummings said.
The @hand platform is shipping now and will be priced at about $400 per user.
Companies deploying Microsoft Corp.'s Exchange Server for online collaboration and access to e-mail, calendar, contacts, and tasks also will get a wireless connection later this month, according to Burnaby, British Columbia-based Infowave Software Inc. The company will announce FirstHand, a server-side solution that runs on any WAP (Wireless Application Protocol)-enabled device using AT&T Corp. wireless services.
Wireless connections to PIMs (personal information managers) also will receive a boost from Palm Inc. at PC Expo as the company leverages its recent purchase of online PIM provider AnyDay.com. According to Palm, AnyDay's 3 million users now will have access to the server-based Internet PIM over any WAP-enabled wireless device.
Seeking to extend the functionality of PDAs (personal digital assistants), Hackensack, New Jersey-based Mobile Information Systems will join forces with Palm to make traveler's services a standard feature on the Palm VIIx Handheld.
MIS's Traveler SOS offers the ability to reach roadside assistance, messaging services, and other travel information via wireless data. The free service figures out a person's location based on the nearest cell tower and ZIP code tag, then relates that information back to a database, company officials said.
Also at the show, Richmond, British Columbia-based Sierra Wireless Inc. will announce a partnership with Hewlett-Packard Co. in Palo Alto, California to bring wireless WAN capabilities to the mobile enterprise workforce. HP will outfit its OmniBook and Pavilion notebook PCs and some Jornada palmtops with Sierra's AirCard 300 wireless PC Card, Sierra Wireless said in a statement. The card offers virtual data connectivity through a CDPD (cellular digital packet data) network.
Mobile device management also will be addressed when XcelleNet, in Atlanta, and San Jose, California-based Pumatech Inc. showcase their collaboration combining mobile management technology with software that allows two-way synchronization between PC applications and handhelds. The bundled product is called Enterprise Intellisync Mobile Management Edition.