IT managers: Mobile work-force apps entering 2nd generation

IT managers: Mobile work-force apps entering 2nd generation

Wireless mobility is entering a new generation made more powerful with richer middleware and synchronization software.

Erik Walters, program manager for business solutions at DirecTV in Los Angeles said Antenna is used to supporting more than 700 sales and support workers. He said the new 2.0 release would help DirecTV expand the number of applications that it can connect to sales personnel carrying BlackBerry devices from Research in Motion.

In recent years, Walters said that mobile connections to internal accounting systems have meant that sales reps could spend less time in the office and visit as many DirecTV dealers that they support, up to seven a day, an increase from three a day. Over three years, he said DirecTV had invested about US$1 million with Antenna but had seen a large return on investment, perhaps even 400 percent or more.

There are many companies that offer various products and services to connect field workers to the central office wirelessly, including the major wireless carriers, analysts said. Many companies have won awards for productivity with wireless field force applications because the benefits are real. But Gartner analyst Ken Dulaney said in a March research note that large companies still needed to apply more strategic planning to giving mobility attention.

In addition to Antenna's announcement on Sept. 16, TeleNav, which provides a number of GPS navigation services for individuals' mobile phones, announced a GPS-enabled mobile resource management service to provide real-time information for managing field operations and remote communications. It allows a team of workers managed by a field manager to clock in and out as a workgroup over wireless BlackBerry smartphones or other devices, the company said. Signature capture, image capture and other functions have been added. Pricing was not announced.

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