Getronics workers stay in touch

One Toronto-based company is reaping the benefits of a new wireless offering, allowing its remote workers to stay in touch with the head office when they are out in the field.

Getronics Canada announced on Wednesday that it has successfully completed the first stage of its implementation of Nextair Inc.’s Airix product, an offering that Nextair said provides its customers with the flexibility of using any combination of handheld products seamlessly over any network.

Getronics, an IT and communications technology services provider, said that it was looking for a solution to its challenge of having its head office staying in constant contact with its field employees and to allow its mobile technicians constant and real-time access to corporate information.

The full Airix wireless solution consists of three components: the Airix Design Studio, the Airix Smart Client and the Airix Transaction Server.

The Transaction server sits on a company’s network behind the firewall and works as a go-between for the handheld device and the enterprise application and enterprise database. The server makes sure that as a user roams between cellular and Wi-Fi, for example, that he or she does so seamlessly, explained Ron Close, president of Nextair.

The Airix Smart Client is the technology that sits on the handheld device and tells the application what type of client it is, the screen measurements and functionality so the user can take full advantage of the handheld he or she has chosen.

The Design Studio is the application that allows users to set up applications and decide on screen design. Webster said it was important to Getronics when choosing a solution that it was able to customize and play with the design of the application.

“The solution we ended up going with had to be simple, or my technicians wouldn’t use it,” explained Jerry Webster, Getronics Canada’s vice-president of field managed service.

As well as being easy to use, Getronics also wanted the flexibility of using different applications on different PDA devices including Palm Inc. devices, Research In Motion Ltd.’s Blackberry device and Microsoft Corp.’s Pocket PC. The Airix offering is compatible with all of these, and can also run over the Bell Canada, Telus Corp. or Rogers Wireless network. “That’s a possibility of nine different combinations,” Webster said. “It handled all of those, it didn’t care.”

When Getronics workers who are out in the field look at their screens, they see a variety of information, according to Webster, including a customized client identifier, a custom reference number, a Getronics reference number and customer’s name.

Implementation to full deployment of the Airix wireless solution took about three weeks, Webster said, adding that it piloted the technology first in six of its locations across Canada over three separate networks — Bell, Telus and Rogers.

“The solution is very, very simple to implement,” Webster said. “And we had positive cash flow and ROI in the first year.”

Nextair also announced on Wednesday the completion of its move from Windsor, Ont., to its new Toronto headquarters.

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