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For many companies today, the ability to provide mobile and remote access to enterprise applications, e-mail and Web content is a strategic business imperative.

The frontline workforce -- sales and field service reps, on-site consultants and managers, branch and retail personnel – presents a tremendous opportunity for businesses to improve customer service, increase productivity and reduce costs. The ability to arm these frontline employees with the tools and knowledge they need to be successful, and at the same time capture critical business information in real-time from the frontlines and route it to decision makers instantly, can also greatly improve a company’s competitiveness. Using mobile technologies to replace slow, error-prone paper-based processes or giving new access to systems in the field that were previously unavailable, allows companies to reach these goals.

However, frontline computing can often present a daunting challenge, encompassing numerous devices, networks and security issues. Without proper planning, a mobile deployment may not provide a company’s management with the benefits expected from it. In order to be successful, the solution must be ‘Always Available’ – that is, the users must always have access to the critical information they need to do their job, regardless of whether or not they have a live network connection. Always Available computing focuses on providing mobile access to back-end applications and information by using appropriate methods of connectivity for each part of an application. By delivering business continuity, end-user adoption and measurable ROI, ‘Always Available’ frontline solutions enable companies to go mobile with confidence.

There are three key reasons why a solution built around the Always Available concept will be more successful than one that is not. Let’s keep in mind a sample application as we go through these points. Picture a field service person who carries a converged PDA/cell phone. She spends her day visiting customers and performing tasks at their locations. She needs access to work orders and customer account information, as well as the ability to capture a record of activity and information changes on the device. Let’s look at the benefits of Always Available and how it can help this field service rep to be more successful.

Lack of access to information stops employees from being able to do their job

Networks are not ubiquitous. Although access has greatly improved in recent years, the reality is that there are still many places where a network is not available. Examples of this today include an airplane, elevator or in coverage holes. We’ve all experienced dropped cell phone calls, so we know how annoying a lack of coverage can be. In Always Available computing, local storage of information allows users to do their job regardless of where they are. In our field service example, what if the employee could not proceed to the next stop because she didn’t have a work order? What if she couldn’t request a part she needed? If your employees’ ability to do their job is dependent on that connection, not only will they be frustrated, but the company’s bottom line will also be detrimentally affected. Local storage can also be used as a backup for information that is usually accessed wirelessly.


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