GoodAccess allows IT to build and deploy applications that connect to back-office products such as SFA and ERP, but the slow 2.5G networks have kept adoption low, Friend notes. (Executives at RIM, makers of the BlackBerry messaging device and service, declined to comment on how the company might take advantage of 3G connections, although in Europe it has used the technology to provide application access similar to GoodAccess.)
Salesforce.com’s Blondeau expects both IT and third-party software developers to start taking high-speed access into consideration as they create mobile applications. That would mean less reliance on storing local data, for example. “The need for a fully asynchronous architecture is reduced,” he says.
Blondeau also expects Web services to increasingly support access from handhelds, by using technologies such as DHTML and XML to present an appropriate interface for the handheld’s smaller screen and limited input capability -- reducing the need for separate mobile applications.
Given that 3G networks will also allow over-the-air management of mobile device, enterprises will be able to upload application and anti-virus updates -- files too large to transmit across 2.5G networks. Both Good Technology and RIM already offer management services for their devices. Both devices are part of an overall service that includes a messaging server at the enterprise, so it makes sense for the enterprise to manage that service directly.
For carrier-supplied 3G services, Salesforce.com’s Blondeau says it’s natural for the carriers to provide such services, rather than having IT deploy it, because carriers will be rolling out multiple applications over multiple devices and thus must figure out the connectivity and management capabilities anyway. Anticipating this demand, Sprint PCS will offer its Managed Mobility Services later this year. In addition to updating software and disabling missing devices, the service will allow IT to provision services to new users, including specifying their capabilities and access rights. Cingular Wireless is contemplating a similar service.
If the carrier provides the management infrastructure, the enterprise still must manage the devices and services using a Web application. But enterprises that prefer not to outsource their management activities don’t have to: A few companies -- including iAnywhere’s XcelleNet division and Intellisync (formerly named Pumatech) -- provide their own device management platforms that work via Wi-Fi and cellular networks.
The 3G handheld may provide an additional benefit, notes Good Technology’s Friend: With a Bluetooth or UWB (Ultra Wideband) wireless connection, a 3G handheld can act as a modem for a laptop, so a user could share one 3G service plan between the two devices. That would mark a real revolution: a cell phone giving the notebook real broadband speed.
Even if you end up with a separate 3G card for your notebooks, that broadband speed will untether business travelers and field forces from hotels, hot spots, and other location-specific connections. Assuming the 3G networks are rolled out broadly and with sufficient capacity, that will keep you connected and as productive as any desktop employee -- that is until you run out of battery power.
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