The need to constantly be in contact with the office, with co-workers and with customers is becoming a necessity in today’s workforce.
Nokia is hoping that its new corporate WAP Server will facilitate such contact by allowing wireless devices to tap into corporate networks.
The company has announced it will be releasing its WAP Server 1.0 this month, a product that will allow businesses to securely access the Internet in mobile environments, according to Yasin Hamed, director of technology sales at Nokia in Dallas.
“For those companies or service providers, whether it’s an enterprise seeking out their employees or seeking out their customers, if they want to maintain a one-to-one relationship with these folks over a secure line, wireless line if you will, they can deploy such a wireless application, gateway or server at their premises,” Hamed explained.
Nokia will be providing a trial version of the corporate WAP Server and a new version of the Nokia WAP Toolkit on-line this month.
With the WAP open server platform, users are able to maintain complete control over the customer traffic between the Internet, the wireless network and their own internal network, and are also able to monitor the security of data and customer traffic. According to Nokia, a security option is also available — the Wireless Transportation Layer Security (WTLS). The server is also compliant with the WAP 1.1 specification.
The Toolkit is designed to facilitate the production of WAP services and applications, and, according to the vendor, developers will be able to use a PC-based simulator of a Nokia phone to write, run and test applications.
The company has also announced the release of its WAP-compliant mobile telephones, the 7100 Series, which will be available in North America in the first half of the year 2000.
Fort Worth, Tex.-based Sabre Business Travel Solutions (BTS) has incorporated the Nokia WAP Server to offer business travellers information while they are on the go.
Sabre BTS is “primarily a corporate travel management system, and that basically allows corporations to manage their travel, allow(s) travellers to book their own travel via a Web interface. And it’s a management system so it includes a lot of different elements,” said Peter Stevens, Sabre BTS’ vice-president of product and business development.
According to Stevens, customers with browsers can come in and, based on their login, are capable of viewing their corporate rates and travel information, which is “just a much easier process both for the traveller and a much cheaper process for the corporation,” he said.
Last January, BTS began working with Nokia, and then made an announcement in March with the intent to “discover how WAP can interact with the travel product,” explained Stevens. “We already had an existing
product out there, I guess since October 1996, so a pretty solid product with a lot of users.”
BTS is using Nokia’s corporate WAP Server to enable customers to access information from the road. For example, if customers are in a cab, and need information they would normally get at the airport, they will be able to access it from their mobile phones without having to call the airport directly and be put on hold, or having to get out their laptops.
The company looks at the mobile device space as having a huge impact on the e-commerce market in the future, Stevens said, and BTS was experimenting to find different ways for its customers to access its e-commerce product. Customers can already call in and speak with a live agent, or get access via their Web interface.
Up until now, BTS had been faced with the dilemma of having to custom design the interfaces for each individual phone, said Stevens.
So, he explained, “if we adopted a standard-like WAP, and we use technologies like Nokia’s WAP server, then we would make our development life much easier and not have to do multi-iterations of product.”
BTS has “added an XML layer product and we talk XML to the WAP Server and so then all we’re doing on our end is the different style sheets for the different devices,” Stevens said.
The main benefit of the server is the freedom it gives, according to Hamed.
“What we’re trying to say here is the Web is ubiquitous…you get a lot of freedom and independence as you host your own service by providing that through your Web server,” he said. “So, to reach out to your customers or your own employees in a secure fashion in a controlled manner and complete independence — that’s what you get from the server.”
BTS will soon be starting pilots in the United Kingdom, as well as in the U.S., according to Stevens. BTS has found the technology to be extremely useable, he said, and the company is moving towards the development of second and third generation applications for it.
Pricing for the Nokia WAP Server 1.0 begins at US$10,000. Visit Nokia at www.nokia.com for more information about the server and Toolkit products. Sabre BTS is at www.sabrebts.com.