Conference tackles mobile computing in the enterprise

Psion Teklogix Inc. – a division of Psion PLC – brought together two of its partners on Tuesday to discuss mobile computing for the enterprise, a concept that one analyst said is forever changing.

Ken Dulaney, vice-president of mobile computing at Gartner Research Group said that IT professionals would like nothing more than not having to deal with new technologies made available on the market and instead want to be given the time to work with the solutions that are here today. The mobile industry, however, is one that will continue to advance and change for years to come, Delaney added.

He said it is important for enterprises to lay the groundwork now that will allow them to adopt change quickly.

According to Dulaney, some people say that if they had information faster, they probably couldn’t do much with it anyway. And although this feeling is true within many IT departments, it is essential to have the foundation for change ready once the new technologies are available to ensure that an organization won’t be left behind.

Above everything else, Delaney said it is important to realize that organizations can no longer build systems to last but instead must build systems that change.

Psion Teklogix, a provider of mobile computing solutions, along with Microsoft Canada Co., Rogers AT&T Wireless and Gartner discussed how mobile computing solutions can impact a company’s bottom line at the conference held in Richmond Hill, Ont.

Jason Offet, mobility business manager at Microsoft Canada said for the most part, his mobile solution customers have a short list of must-have’s including: increasing productivity; reducing cycle time; and being more responsive to customers. In order to address these concerns, Offet said organizations need to attack the most obvious areas within the enterprise that will give quick bottom-line boosts.

“Automating paper-based processes is a relatively easy way to show ROI (return on investment) with a [mobile] application,” Offet said.

He added that automating paper-based processes is a “financially attractive” solution because the cost and instances of mistakes are virtually eliminating when the only person dealing with the data is the person entering it in real-time.

He said that the ultimate goal of any mobile solution is to gain the ability to access any data, any time on any device.

David Neale, vice-president of new product development at Rogers AT&T Wireless, said that another key factor for organizations to consider when deciding on a mobile solution is what network the solution is running on. Neale gave reasons during Tuesday’s seminar as to why the mobile operator chose the global system for mobile communications (GSM) as its network.

He said that GSM is “slowly but surely becoming the dominant standard,” and explained the pathway that GSM will follow into the third generation (3G) of mobile computing.

Rogers chose GSM – which, along with code division multiple access (CDMA) is moving toward general packet radio service (GPRS) in two-and-a-half generation (2.5G) and will then become enhanced data rates for global evolution (EDGE) in 3G – because of the low cost of GSM devices and the usability of subscriber identity module (SIM) cards.

A SIM card is a thumbnail-sized chip that contains a user’s complete identity including all their phone numbers, contacts and calendars. It also allows users to use any GSM phone and retrieve their personal information when using their personal SIM card.

Neale said that the “GSM network uses a SIM card to authenticate subscriber access and data,” an aspect that Rogers AT&T enjoyed knowing how skeptical many organizations are when it comes security and mobile applications.

When choosing a mobile solution, Neale had four recommendations for organizations to consider.

Focus on the application not the technology, he said, adding that an organization shouldn’t buy a device simply because they find it attractive. Also, enterprises should source complete solutions from solid integrators and think about the whole solution, he said. “Remember, if you buy the devices, you still have to go shopping for the software.”

For the last two points, Neale said that it is important to remember that as an organization, you will need the widest coverage available and to look carefully for responsible and knowledgeable after-sales support.

Above all, match devices to applications, Neale said. “Find out what you want to do then go shopping.”

According to Neale, if organizations keep to these points they should be on the right track to finding a mobile solution that works for them. Dulaney, on the other hand, said there is one mistake that he sees organizations making over and over again that, if overlooked, could prove to be costly to the enterprise.

Organizations should never look for enterprise solutions in the consumer market, he said, adding that consumer machines won’t be rugged enough to be able to handle the performance of an industrial device.

More information about mobile solutions from Psion Teklogix can be found online at Microsoft Canada can be found online at and Rogers AT&T can be found on the Web at