E-mail has its inefficiencies when you're on the road, says Joseph Korb, president and director of GoAmerica. "If someone doesn't reply with history, you lose the thread of the conversation," he says, and "attachments become a barrier to communication if you can't read it."
Mobile Office, which targets field service workers, and financial and sales professionals, would let users access company E-mail, folders of frequently used documents, and industry-specific apps such as customer-relationship management or sales-force automation tools through any wireless device. To read E-mail attachments, a user would E-mail a message with an attachment to this address: "[email protected]" Once the GoAmerica server identified the user based on his or her E-mail address, the attachment would be converted into text and E-mailed back to the user.
While this arrangement would be convenient for mobile professionals who don't have access to a computer, it does present some vulnerabilities, says Ken Dulaney, Gartner VP of mobile computing. "Any enterprise user using GoAmerica is putting valuable data on [GoAmerica's] servers, which is going to give lots of IT managers fits," Dulaney says. He also notes that data in E-mail attachments can be misconstrued during the conversion process, which could mean costly errors for the employee and the company. IT departments should require mobile-device users to take full responsibility for understanding the contents of E-mail attachments when using conversion technology, Dulaney says. "These tools are good to use in a pinch as long as the user knows there could be errors."
Mobile Office, which is based on GoWeb, GoAmerica's wireless browser that converts and encrypts data into text, is in beta testing and will be available in late June. Pricing is not available, but the service will be added to monthly service plans for the GoWeb browser, which costs $34.95 to $74.95 per month.