Be it GSM or CDMA ? the mobile phone today is seen as a complete communication tool enabling customers to not just talk but do most of the work that they would do when in office. At an individual level one can exchange data, send and receive e-mails, faxes and even access the Internet. At the corporate level, the mobile phone has become an extension of a company?s IT infrastructure, automating the sales force and helping meet the supply chain management needs. No wonder, in the days to come, these gadgets, of myriad shapes and sizes, are set to become part and parcel of any organisation?s work culture.
The possibilities these throw up are equally exciting. In sharp contrast to the high decibel levels reverberating in the fast-growing consumer mobility space, the enterprise mobility segment appears to be buzzing with activity. It is also the new catchword for the GSM and CDMA players clamouring to capitalise on the emerging business opportunity.
In such a scenario when enterprise obility is going the wireless way, there will be more vertically rich products powered by video, voice and data applications, says Tata Teleservices president (enterprise division), Vinayak Deshpande. There has already been a significant increase in the number of mobile and wireless business users. Quoting a Gartner report, Deshpande says 60% of people will not be coming to offices to do their work. ?We see emerging trends such as the mobile device being increasingly used for more than just voice calls or contract management,? he says, adding, ?an enterprise?s needs are focused solutions ? there is better collaboration and greater flexibility?.
Last year alone, 350 people across the country including Microsoft, IBM, Whirlpooland Subhiksha were roped in as clients for Tata Teleservices? CDMA phones. The partnership includes improvement in sales force effectiveness, supply chain logistics management and office collaboration for e-mails, etc. All these services are being provided on a single platform having a suite of products.
According to Deshpande, CDMA is designed to carry data with improved speed and efficiency. It gives over 30-50% higher speed than any other technology. For instance, Tata Teleservices introduced a vehicle-tracking system using a CDMA module where the cargo can be ?seen.? Developed in partnership with Tata Motors and Tata Technologies, the vehicle-tracking solution is an efficient system for tracking and monitoring commercial and passenger vehicles.
Then, there is RemoMail, an e-mail service on mobile phones. The service allows mobile users to access business or personal mails from any Brew or Java-enabled Tata Indicom mobile phone. The service provides the comfort of being able to read, write, reply, forward, or delete e-mails from anywhere, anytime by simply using the application on the Tata Indicom mobile phone. The service can be accessed by entry-level handsets as well.
Highlighting the advantages of CDMA, Qualcomm India director Rajamani Ganesh says, the protocol offers a robust and technologically better ecosystem thus leading the migration to 3G. It has many advantages in performance, availability and price points, he adds.
Taking a sneak peek into the future ? it?s all from making a voice call to managers checking mails to location management or playing a 3D game using Wi-Fi through a mobile. By the end of April 2006, there were 310 million 3G CDMA subscribers. The migration from 2G to 3G, says Ganesh, is inevitable and for obvious reasons: lower cost of delivery of voice and data. Besides, it also supplements revenue generation with value-added services.
Mobiles offer much more than voice, says Ganesh. ?An evolution is taking place in the wireless Internet space with convergence setting in. A single mobile device now integrates other devices such a camera, MP3 player, PC, GPS device, voice, PDA or even mobile wallet,? he adds. Interestingly, 70% of the US mobile workers require real-time access to mails, contacts, customer data and various other information. And for higher productivity and efficiency, enterprise users prefer seamless data roaming.
Upbeat on the mobile enterprise phenomenon, GSM players too are enriching their handsets with new features. ?Airtel has been in the forefront of providing innovative solutions for people on the move,? says Airtel (AP circle) chief operating officer, Sam Elangalloor. The latest in the Airtel bouquet has been the arrangement with Microsoft to offer MS Office on Airtel handsets. With Microsoft?s Windows Mobile 5.0 platform, Airtel customers can now access corporate e-mail via direct push technology. The service delivers powerful business applications and multimedia experience to all enterprise and enterprise customers across India.
Company officials say Microsoft?s Windows Mobile 5.0 platform offers a host of applications with ease of use. All Airtel users can access MS Office (Outlook, Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Internet Explorer), multi-media functionality (camera, MP3, video-recording) and line of business applications like sales force automation on their mobile phones.
The logistics community too has benefited. A vehicle tracking solution enables a company to monitor the location of their stock in transit. Each vehicle is mounted with an Airtel mobile phone or global positioning system (GPS) box and a vehicle tracking-enabled SIM card. The SIM card sends periodic updates of the location of vehicles to the Bharti application server, as per the frequency defined.
Further, mobile sales force automation (SFA) will help companies make their web-based application and ERP systems wireless so that the field force can have access to information on their Airtel mobile phones. Bharti has worked with middleware companies (such as Air2Web) and system integration partners to provide these solutions to customers.
Not to leave the Blackberry out, a complete mobile e-mail solution that allows customers to send and receive e-mails wherever they are. There?s no need for a laptop to view e-mails, no need for a fixed phone line, and no need to logon as they are automatically ?pushed? straight to the handheld BlackBerry.
Similar is the case with Idea Cellular which is working to put in place a definite and focussed strategy to tap and penetrate the corporate and SME segments.
?Our value-added services are innovative and at times especially created for a particular corporate,? say Idea officials. For instance, Idea Mail is a specially designed e-mail solution that allows business users to check e-mails on the move, without the handset limitation. The fixed cellular terminals are a simple cost saving solution that serve as a gateway between a GSM network and a firm?s private EPABX and meter reading for electricity metering devices through SMS.
It appears that the platter of service is full though there is still a ring of doubt as to whether it is CDMA or GSM that will rule the roost. Nevertheless, in the days to come, services powered by enterprise mobility will become part and parcel of any corporate?s work culture.