REDMOND, Wash., Oct. 18, 2002 — When it comes to making sense of — and implementing — a myriad of wireless technologies, systems integrators are looking to Microsoft for help.
Rather than piecing together dozens of wireless standards and mobile applications to create complicated custom packages of technology for business customers, many professional services firms and systems integrators are turning to Microsoft and its Microsoft Mobile Workplace initiative to more easily and quickly deploy wireless services at lower costs.
Companies such as Accenture, Cap Gemini Ernst & Young and HP Services — all known for their highly regarded custom solutions and superior levels of service — have embraced the Microsoft Mobile Workplace as the foundation for developing powerful mobile applications for big business customers.
“The Microsoft Mobile Workplace is a great initiative because so much utility is already included in the products,”
says Michael Welin-Berger, mobile business director for Cap Gemini Ernst & Young (CGEY).
“As a result, we can reduce the number of third-party applications, which cuts the time to deployment and limits costs for our customers.”
Microsoft Mobile Workplace, begun in July of this year, is an initiative designed to ease the large-scale deployment of mobile devices and wireless applications in big businesses. The initiative aims to simplify complicated tasks, such as planning wireless services, selecting the appropriate infrastructure and mobile devices, and ensuring the security of the overall solution among other features.
Earlier this month Microsoft made available the first applications under the initiative. Mobile Workplace Messaging allows wireless messaging, and Mobile Workplace CRM provides customer relationship management (CRM) features for businesses with mobile office, field service and sales force needs. Mobile Workplace Messaging enables companies to send and retrieve messages via Windows-based devices such as Pocket PCs, Smartphones and laptops with wireless connectivity. Mobile Workplace CRM can increase the productivity of sales and field personnel by providing access to and automating product and customer tracking, contact information, order data, parts management, instructional videos and invoices, among other tasks.
Microsoft relies on key partners such as Cap Gemini Ernst & Young, Accenture and others to help corporate customers understand the value of mobile devices and wireless applications for their business.
“We chose these system integrators because of their global reach,”
says Richard Young, director for the Global Enterprise Audience Team at Microsoft.
“They bring experience and expertise to the table. They understand how to install complex implementations in large enterprises. Mobility applications are not something that you can just take out of the box and deploy, so we’re going to leverage their experience there.”
The breadth of features and support for wireless standards and industry-leading, third-party mobile applications in the Microsoft Mobile Workplace initiative allows systems integrators to build from a single base platform, while still customizing the wireless solution for the needs of each individual customer, according to system integrators. Microsofts functionality and interoperability allows system integrators to quickly deploy mobile applications that can be tailored and modified as needed.
System integrators also appreciate Microsoft’s rapid mobile application development capabilities and laud the Mobile Workplace initiative’s easy customization.
“The Microsoft Mobile Workplace is so much more than just a wireless solution for businesses; for us it is a whole platform for developing enterprise applications on mobile devices,”
says Welin-Berger of Cap Gemini Ernst & Young.
“But rest assured that even though the Microsoft Mobile Workplace helps us implement applications quickly, we are not just selling fixed solutions.”
For example, CGEY’s recent implementation of a custom field service application for BT Industries, a Toyota-owned European forklift and truck manufacturer, is an example of how Microsofts utility and interoperability allow systems integrators to more quickly install wireless solutions. CGEY converted the application into the .NET environment in just three weeks, according to Welin-Berger.
Not only do customers such as BT Industries enjoy faster deployment times, using Microsoft’s wireless development ecosystem provides such benefits as reduced costs for custom applications and lower total costs of ownership — particularly from an administrative standpoint, system integrators say.
Professional service firms also enjoy the level of access that Microsoft provides its system integrator partners. They say Microsoft provides them with an advantage by alerting them to the high-level product roadmap for future releases and offering detailed knowledge of current products, enabling system integrators to deliver the best recommendations and quality of service to their demanding business customers.
“We have experience from our last product installation, plus direct contact with Microsoft,”
“Our partnership provides direct access to Microsoft and thats extremely key to us.”
Microsoft’s Young says the company values its system integrator partners and has worked to simplify the process for them and their customers while providing system integrators with the flexibility to offer the customization that differentiates them from competitors.
“What we’ve done to help our system integrator partners is identify complementary offerings from our independent software vendor (ISV) partners so that the integrators can build much richer solutions for their customers,”
“This provides a shortcut to the time it would take them to identify different software functionality that is available.”
In addition to the global reach attained by working through major system integrators such as Accenture, Cap Gemini Ernst & Young, and HP Services, Microsoft plans to soon work with several smaller and regional system integrators. The strategy will allow Microsoft to better target its mobile applications to smaller businesses and tailor them to the needs of specific geographic regions, Young says.