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I Want My Enterprise Apps

Research In Motion is providing new services to put its popular PDA in front of CRM, business-intelligence, and other applications
Research In Motion Ltd., maker of the BlackBerry, the leading PDA, is under fire but pressing forward. It's facing patent lawsuits from NTP Inc. and Eatoni Ergonomics Inc. as well as competition from vendors such as Nokia, which are entering the mobile E-mail market with new wireless devices and software services. RIM expects to maintain its edge by partnering and providing services that increase the BlackBerry's support for wireless applications such as customer relationship management, sales-force automation, enterprise resource planning, and business intelligence.

BlackBerrys help Skanska make fast decisions, Stockley says.

BlackBerrys help Skanska make fast decisions, Stockley says.

Photo by Bob Rives
The vendor has more than 280 alliance partners that already have developed applications for the BlackBerry, and about 60% of its customers running the BlackBerry Enterprise Server have begun to deploy some of these tools, according to RIM. The most recent development came this month, when Vettro Corp., in partnership with Bell Canada, said it will make available to BlackBerry users RainMaker for Salesforce, which gives these PDA users direct access to their Salesforce.com service.

Instant messaging is on the agenda, too. RIM plans to deliver IM clients for the BlackBerry by year's end. In April, the company partnered with IBM to extend Lotus Instant Messaging to the BlackBerry and add new functionality such as Web conferencing and a server-based audit trail of messages. That month, RIM also struck a deal with Microsoft to develop a Live Communications Server client for the BlackBerry, which will extend enterprise instant messaging and presence features to BlackBerry subscribers through connectivity with Microsoft Office Live Communications Server 2005 and BlackBerry Enterprise Server.

RIM also is in the process of extending Avaya Inc.'s voice-over-IP applications to the BlackBerry over wireless LANs, letting people use desktop calling features such as hold, forward, and transfer on their BlackBerrys.

This week, RIM will unveil its second-quarter results, and analysts expect it to be another strong showing. In its first quarter, ended May 28, RIM reported revenue of $453.9 million, up 68% from $269.6 million in the same quarter a year earlier. The total number of BlackBerry subscribers in the quarter increased by approximately 592,000 to about 3.1 million.

Companies expanding their RIM deployments will help that number grow. The IT staff at Skanska USA Building Inc., a general contracting and construction management company, has been using BlackBerrys for nearly two years. It began rolling out the devices companywide four months ago, and more than 1,000 employees are now onboard. Contractors and superintendents rely heavily on the project-management function, which is integrated into E-mail. The BlackBerry also integrates with Skan- ska's CRM application. That's invaluable, because an average job has to be completed over a period of 18 months, often with 500 retrofits.

Some of Skanska's job sites already are reporting a more than 10% increase in productivity since they started using BlackBerrys. "Our BlackBerrys make the tools that are critical to us mobile," Skanska CIO Chris Stockley says. "It helps us make fast decisions. And the faster we can make good decisions, the less delay we'll have that cost our customers money."