San Jose, Calif., February 20, 2002 — Global business. A scattered and mobile workforce. Demanding customers. Eager partners. An organization with even one of these factors will probably require constant and secure communication. These days, most companies looking to be successful must contend with at least two, if not all of these factors. And they need help.
Enter Microsoft, which has teamed with Hewlett-Packard (HP) to make it easier for mobile professionals to stay a step ahead of the competition and customer desires. The new solution — HP Express Service for Microsoft Mobile Information Server 2002 — is crafted to make it easier for enterprises to begin enjoying the substantial benefits of mobile computing and communications. The potential benefits include increased employee productivity, greater revenue from field sales teams, reduced costs and higher levels of customer satisfaction. The deployment is designed to be hassle-free and to not interfere with existing IT infrastructure.
Powered by the new Microsoft Mobile Information Server 2002 Enterprise Edition (MIS), the new offering combines Microsoft software and HP consulting services to provide a complete, end-to-end mobility solution. The second edition of MIS, which makes its public debut today at the Internet World Wireless conference in New York, is a scalable mobile server that extends the reach of Microsoft Mobile Exchange and enterprise applications to users on the move. It combines the power of the corporate intranet and the next generation of wireless phones, personal digital assistants (PDAs) and other devices so users can quickly and securely access and sync wirelessly their e-mail, contacts, calendar and tasks instantly, no matter where they are located.
The HP Express Service for MIS enables customers to conduct a 60-day trial for a team of up to 50 professionals. The service lets company executives quickly and economically evaluate the benefits of deploying a mobility solution broadly across their organization.
“Many members of the mobile generation don’t even have a desk, and if they do, don’t spend much time at it,” says David Rasmussen, lead product manager for MIS at Microsoft. “We’re sure those who choose the HP Express Service for MIS will see that an enterprise mobility solution benefits their bottom line and allows employees to remain productive and connected at all times, no matter where they happen to be working from.”
Analyst Dennis Gaughan, a research director with AMR Research Inc., says companies that typically have taken the greatest advantage of mobile computing technology have been those with large mobile workforces, like a utility or a pharmaceutical company. But, he says, the demand spans many verticals, from discrete and process manufacturing to financial services to retail. He adds that 90 percent of the companies with which AMR spoke in a recent survey plan to maintain or increase spending on this technology in 2002.
“I think this year will (see) more pilots of technology, with more widespread adoption in 2003,” Gaughan says. “And while most of the interest lies with large global companies, I have seen examples of smaller companies using mobile technology to allow them to better compete against big companies.”
Meeting the Needs of Mobile Workers
Sylvain Faligand, Mobility Solutions Manager of HP’s Microsoft Services Operation, says his company has been concentrating on the needs of the “mobile knowledge worker” for more than two years. HP realizes that people in most organizations already maintain a myriad of wireless-to-wired devices to stay connected, and they need more. What they are looking for is a comprehensive mobility solution that takes into account everything from their servers to carrier services to the various devices already used today by their employees, Faligand says.
“HP Express Service for MIS is an entry point that gives businesses a quick way to test out this technology in a real-world environment,” Faligand says. “We make it very easy for them to access and use a mobility solution powered by MIS 2002. With our solution, a customer will require only some initial set up and configurations. There’s no real maintenance for them to worry about, and it is reliable and secure. There also is no impact to their current infrastructure. It’s designed to be as unobtrusive as possible.”
HP Express Service for MIS also enables a company to identify which specific changes, if any, its IT infrastructure would require prior to wide-scale implementation of an MIS solution, Faligand explains. This includes the Microsoft Windows 2000 Server and Exchange 2000 Server messaging environment.
To get started, HP interviews key players within the organization to better understand what their business objectives are and help them tailor the pilot program so they get the results they’re expecting. Once that’s done, it’s a matter of scheduling time for deployment and bringing the necessary equipment on site. Over the next few weeks, HP consultants work with a company’s IT professionals to customize its program, build interfaces and make sure the customer knows how to set up and manage the operating environment.
AMR’s Gaughan says the challenges IT managers face with mobile technology are no different than any other project. But he adds that managing user expectations is one area that increases in importance, since in many cases a company will be using the mobile technology to change, and hopefully improve, a business process.
“Most companies I have spoken with are planning their mobile projects in phases,” Gaughan says. “There are definite benefits and less risk doing it that way. A smaller pilot group can be easier to work with on refining the required functionality before rolling the application out to a larger group. It also gives the IT staff a chance to learn how to support the mobile worker before they have thousands to support.”
At the end of the two-month trial, HP helps customers gather and compile feedback, deliver a summary of the pilot, determine if the business objectives have been met and whether a complete MIS solution rollout makes sense. In the U.S., the HP Express Service for MIS pilot costs organizations US$50,000 to $100,000. The variation depends on equipment needs and business objectives.
Security and Reliability Emphasized
Faligand says the HP and Microsoft partnership emphasizes security and reliability, in contrast to competitor technology. Mobile Information Server with Outlook Mobile Access provides secure access from mobile devices with WAP browsers and Pocket Internet Explorer-based devices. With encryption using Wireless Transport Layer Security (WTLS) and secure sockets layer (SSL) connections, users have the option of secure browsing.
“We’re not just plunking this down and saying, ‘Here you go, try it out.’ We’re ensuring the security parameters they’ve set up are integrated within their corporate data environment,” Faligand says.
HP has already begun deployment of mobility solutions using the HP Express Service for MIS 2002 in its highly mobile departments, including sales teams in the United States, the United Kingdom and Singapore.
“People say they really like the ease of access and enjoy the speed and synchronization of all their e-mail, contacts and other productivity tools at any time, no matter where they happen to be,” says Michael Noble, marketing manager of HP’s Microsoft Services Operation. “It’s a very convenient solution that enables them to access the information they need to do their job when they need it and frees their time to focus on the business at hand.”
Increased employee productivity is the primary benefit many organizations want from a mobility solution based on MIS, he says. Ease of access, speed of working, greater ability to address urgent issues quickly and less desk-based access to e-mail means greater flexibility and less time required to sort through old e-mail.
But Noble insists it’s much more than saving time on e-mail every day. With wireless synchronization of data the user is sure to get updates directly to the device. Customers need to know that there is a real business savings, and that the time their employees save will allow them to become more competitive and enter new markets.
“The HP Express Service for MIS 2002 allows businesses to provide secure access to the information their employees need anytime, anywhere, and they’re going to be able to be more responsive to their customer needs and collaborate more efficiently with members of organizations,” Noble says. “There are many ways organizations can benefit from this.”