Bell launches Exchange search capability on BlackBerry

Bell Mobility has launched a BlackBerry search tool that will allow enterprise users the ability to scour their entire corporate IT systems using the popular Research In Motion Ltd. device.

The telecom giant will use search and indexing technology from Coveo Solutions Inc., which has offices in Montreal and Quebec City, to power its Enterprise Search service. The platform will allow Bell business customers the ability to securely search and retrieve any data available on their Microsoft Exchange server accounts directly from their BlackBerry device.

“With this tool, you could be sitting in a taxi cab in Beijing at 3:00 a.m. and find a three-year old PDF or Excel attachment in an archived e-mail,” Louis Tetu, executive chairman at Coveo, said. “The information might be on page 46 of that document and the promise here is that you’ll be able to find that data on your BlackBerry within seconds.”

Tetu said that as e-mail has evolved from a messaging platform into something closer to a file server, the ability to quickly search through e-mail attachments, folders, calendars, tasks and contacts has become crucial.

In addition to this, Coveo’s tool will also allow users – assuming they have the appropriate security credentials – the ability to access any document sitting on a corporate server, database, company intranet or any other enterprise document management platform.

Bell Canada spokesperson Julie Smithers said rolling out the service on BlackBerry smart phones was a natural fit due to the strong security features found on both RIM’s server and device.

“Large or small, any business that has a (BlackBerry) Enterprise Server will be interested in this service,” she said.

Smithers added that Bell has seen strong growth in the use of data services by its customers and sees mobile information search as significant piece of BlackBerry use toward the future.

Coveo said the line between desktop and workstation search with mobile search will continue to blur. “This will be the power of having one single interface to search your enterprise systems,” Tetu added. “I no longer need to go into a dedicated content interface or anything like that.”

“It’s all about taking mobile devices to the next level, beyond simply just e-mail,” he said.

Sebastien Ruest, vice-president of services research at IDC Canada Ltd., agreed that the Coveo offering represents an emerging trend in enterprise computing as the mobile device continues to challenge the notebook in many areas of technology.

“The strategy appears to be ahead of the curve, especially if their partnership is to take advantage of the fact that consumers are moving away from desktops,” he said. If this is Bell’s attempt, Ruest added, it could put them ahead of both Rogers Communications Inc. and Telus Corp. in trying to address these questions and tackle the enterprise search market.

But whether Canadian enterprises are ready for this degree of mobile search capabilities today, remains to be seen.

“How much search do I need to do via my BlackBerry at this point,” Ruest asked. “Are they creating the market or just anticipating it?”

These are the questions that Bell will need to answer if this mobile search solution takes off, he added.

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