Wireless E-mail vendor offers system that lets mobile professionals use PDAs and smart phones to access a variety of business applications.
As wireless access to E-mail grows more popular among mobile professionals, vendors such as Research In Motion, Sybase, and Extended Systems are offering technology to provide wireless access to more enterprise applications. Wireless E-mail vendor Good Technology Inc. joins that market this week with GoodAccess, which lets businesses wirelessly access CRM, ERP, supply-chain management, business intelligence, and Microsoft Outlook.
GoodAccess supports a variety of devices, including Hewlett-Packard's iPaq PDAs, smart phones such as the PalmOne Treo, and ruggedized handheld devices like Symbol's MC50 Wi-Fi Pocket PC. Customers can use cellular or Wi-Fi networks to make the wireless connection, the company says. GoodAccess pricing starts around $30,000.
The technology will let retail managers scan bar codes and access inventory information from the store floor or let sales reps look up customer data and account details from the road. The software also can be used to push information such as new product data or order forms to handheld devices, according to the company. "We want to give people access to the applications they need on the devices they want over the networks they prefer," Good Technology CEO Danny Shader says.
Good Technology also disclosed partnerships with application vendors such as Oracle, Salesforce.com, and Siebel Systems, and makers of handheld devices such as HP and Symbol Technologies.
Businesses have been slow to wirelessly enable applications because they're concerned about security and cost, and they question whether the move will provide enough productivity gains to justify the effort, says Kevin Burden, an analyst who covers the mobile market for IDC. "Good is trying to take care of those excuses," he says. "They've made it easier for businesses to mobilize back-end applications. And supporting both Palm and Pocket PC operating systems is no small task."
More than 8.4 million mobile devices were shipped in the United States last year, including 3.6 million handheld devices and 4.8 million converged devices (such as a phone). More than half were RIM BlackBerrys, according to IDC.
Good says it can ensure end-to-end security by encrypting wireless transmissions and providing the ability to remotely erase data and applications if a handheld device is lost or stolen. GoodAccess also includes rapid application design and development software from Above All Software Inc. to let businesses create composite applications that can access data and functions from multiple systems and design how that information will appear on a handheld device. "That lets businesses provide different fields of information for different folks, depending on their jobs and the data they need," Burden says.
Good, which says 4,000 companies use its GoodLink wireless E-mail technology, will face off against the market leader RIM and its popular BlackBerry wireless E-mail system, which is used by tens of thousands of companies. RIM also provides wireless access to a variety of enterprise applications, including those from Oracle's new acquisition, PeopleSoft, and Salesforce, but customers have to use hardware devices from RIM to use its services.
Credit-card company Visa and medical equipment maker Kyphon Inc. are among the businesses testing GoodAccess to provide their field personnel with access to customer and product information, the company says. Esurance Inc., an online auto insurance company with more than 100,000 customers in 17 states, is a GoodLink wireless E-mail user and has been testing GoodAccess to provide executives with wireless access to real-time sales data and adjusters with access to claims information. GoodAccess is a nice companion program to GoodLink, says Marjorie Davie, director of Internet operations for company, who says she's considering expanding tests to include wireless access to IT trouble tickets.
"One advantage Good gives us is choice in the devices we use," she says. Esurance has used RIM and Pocket PC devices but has standardized on Treo, which include a phone, PDA, and camera. "It lets a claims rep look at someone's car, take a picture, and E-mail it to us. Good also lets us easily view attachments." She also remotely deleted all the data on one unit after a staffer lost a Treo. "That was huge for us."
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