by September 3, 2009 0 comments



Work from anywhere is becoming increasingly popular in most organizations,
and laptops form an integral part of this move. But which one should you choose?
Should it be a notebook or a netbook? Besides that, how do combat laptop theft?
How do you protect the data on them? On the connectivity front, how good are the
current high-speed connectivity options for your laptop?Find the answers in this
story

The economic slowdown has caused most organizations to look for innovative
ways of improving efficiency, enhancing employee productivity, and saving costs.
Every penny saved matters, and every investment made must have an RoI
justification attached to it, else it doesn’t roll with the top management. One
innovative option that organizations need to consider is to enable their
employees to work from anywhere, so as to improve employee productivity. Some
MNCs are already doing this, where they don’t have fixed seats assigned for
their staff, especially the ones in marketing. They’re all given laptops, which
they can use from anywhere. They’re given connectivity, so that they can connect
into the Office Intranet from anywhere. They’re given security so that data
can’t be stolen or retrieved even if the laptop gets stolen. They’re also given
smartphones and Blackberries, so that they’re always connected no matter where
they are. So does this kind of a setup work? We have reason to believe it does,
because these are some pretty successful MNCs we’re talking about.

In this story, we’ve looked at enterprise mobility, more from the point of
view of laptops and netbooks. Not only have we reviewed 26 notebooks and
netbooks for you to choose from, but we’ve also covered many other aspects,
because they are the key enablers of the “work from anywhere’ concept. Today,
the trouble is not only in deciding which notebook to buy, or whether it should
be a netbook or notebook. There are other problems as well. What if your laptop
gets stolen? Is there a way to track it down? Even if you can’t, is there a way
to ensure that the data on it doesn’t get stolen and misused? So in this story,
we’ve reviewed websites that claim to help you track down your laptop, if it
gets stolen. Plus, we’ve talked about how to encrypt your hard drive so that
even if your laptop does get stolen, nobody can access your data.

Another key issue is connectivity. Sometimes, the bandwidth available on data
cards is just not sufficient for you to do anything more than check email or
browse some basic websites. High-speed data cards are changing all that, and we
have a story on the trends taking shape in that space.

We’ve limited our discussions on smartphones this time, because there are
ample things to know in laptops. We’ll leave that discussion for another time,
and if you have any thoughts or queries on what we should cover in that space,
then do let us know.

Let’s now start by looking at all the key pieces of the mobility puzzle, so
that you can enable a truly mobile enterprise.

Pieces of the mobility puzzle
The next logical question therefore is how can Indian organizations
replicate the ‘work from anywhere’ model? How can they enable it? In other
words, how can an organization bring in true mobility and derive the benefits
from it?

The answer to that is to identify the pieces of the mobility puzzle. All the
pieces are already available, so you just have to know how to put them together.
The first piece is the device or endpoint, which could either be a laptop or a
smartphone, or both. This would hold your applications and all the data. Next is
connectivity so that the person can remain connected from anywhere. This
comprises of both data and voice connectivity. Third is security, for both the
device and data. Fourth are the back-end applications that the employee would
access.

Notebooks, netbooks or smartphones?
Which laptop should you purchase continues to haunt most decision makers, and
with the onslaught of the latest netbooks, this confusion has increased even
more. We have a separate story on how to choose the right notebook or netbook.
Smartphones continue to remain a personal device, and most organizations tend to
allow their employees to bring their own. If you really want to deploy a
mobility solution, either you need applications that can work on any smartphone,
or you need to standardize on one. A third option is a custom endpoint meant for
a specific application. You need to make the choice depending upon your
application. A private financial institute we know of that provides financing in
rural markets has handed out Linux based portable terminals to its field force.
They carry these along to collect monthly EMIs and generating receipts on the
spot. The data entered in these devices is updated at the central office over
wireless connectivity.

The mobile CRM application represents various information
and reports in an intuitive graphical display, which is optimized for small
mobile screens.

Which high speed data card?
On the connectivity front, high-speed broadband on the move is slowly
becoming a reality, thanks to all the high-speed data cards that have been
launched by various service providers. Moreover, when 3G comes into play,
connectivity won’t remain an issue at all. So now, you need to decide which data
card to buy, whether you should wait for 3G, etc. Not only that, but
organizations are enabling other mobility solutions from this connectivity.
Another bank we know of, who handles micro-financing in remote rural areas has
deployed a mobile van with banking facilities. These mobile vans go on
designated days to the remote villages so that the people from there don’t have
to come all the way to the bank to do their transactions. These vans are also
linked to the central office over wireless. So connectivity is not only required
for individuals, but it can also be leveraged for other enterprise mobility
solutions as well.

Data security on the move
The third issue is security. What if your laptop or smartphone gets stolen?
What if somebody mis-uses the data on it? According to a recent survey conducted
by PCQuest on information security, the biggest security incident that most
organizations have suffered from is laptop theft. Of the 90 CIOs who responded
to this survey, nearly 40% had suffered from laptop theft. Here, it’s obviously
not the cost of the laptop that’s important, but rather the cost of data that’s
on it. And the higher up the laptop owner in the organizational value chain, the
more valuable is the data. So besides buying laptops for employees, the bigger
worry for most organizations is protecting the data on them.

In the same information security survey, we found that the priority for a
majority of respondents was safety of data. So, 50% of them had plans to deploy
some sort of a data loss prevention solution, while another 40% wanted to deploy
hard disk encryption so that even if a machine does get stolen, the data remains
safe from prying eyes.

Which applications for my industry?
The fourth and last piece of the puzzle are the applications. Today, there’s
a plethora of mobility applications and devices already available.
Salesforce.com for instance, has a mobile CRM solution, which allows the sales
staff to access the CRM application from their mobile phones. Similarly,
Motorola has a handheld computer that can be put to several interesting uses.
Both of these have been covered in this story.

SalesForce.com CRM Mobile
Salesforce.com provides a mobile offering to their customers with instant access
from anywhere, through the Salesforce Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
application. This mobile offering is available for iPhone, BlackBerry, and
Windows Mobile-based devices. Thus a sales personnel now does not have to be
hooked to a desktop or a laptop to access a customer’s information. He can have
all the information he needs on his smartphone through the Salesforce Mobile CRM
application.

CRM on the Go
Salesforce.com offers four types of licenses for its mobile CRM solution, namely
group, professional, enterprise and unlimited. The mobile offering is available
for all licenses except for customers having a group license. The offering is in
two versions: Lite and Professional. The professional version comes as an
additional subscription fee and has full-blown features, while the Mobile Lite
offers customers with basic access to most common Salesforce CRM features.

Motorola MC 75
Motorola refers to this device as EDA, short for Enterprise
Digital Assistant. The device is meant for road warriors such as courier
guys, on-field bank executives, security officials, warehouse managers and
other professionals whose work is spread across in an enterprise. Looks a
bit heavier as compared to the similar devices we have seen earlier, the
device weighs close to half a kilo. The reason behind this is its rugged
body. Motorola claims that the device can survive drops from 5 feet high,
and is dust and water resistant ( IP54 rating).We did a test by dropping it
from 4ft on concrete. Also we checked its water resistant capability. The
device continued to work fine without any problem. The touchscreen device
comes with Xscale processor, 128 MB RAM and 256 MB Flash, integrated A- GPS,
Bluetooth 2.0, 802.11 a/b/g wirelss LAN support, IrDA connectify and a
microSD card slot. It has support for 3G i.e HSDPA and CDMA-EVDO as well as
2G (EDGE and GPRS).

The device we recieved was running Microsoft Windows 6.1. It also has a
high resolution auto focus 2MP camera, which enables field executives take
photograph of the prespective customers. while opening accounts on the field
itself. Device also has a bar code scanner capable of reading 1D as well as
2D barcodes. MC75 also has support for push-to-talk and voice dialing over
wireless WAN as well as WLANs. So, the device can also be used in a
walkie-talkie style.

In addition to the standard one year warrenty, Motorola also offers its
customers an option of 1, 3 or 5 year service packages. Under these
packages, Motorola provides cover against accidental damages and provide
software platform upgrades. Motorola also offers various accessories for the
device such as mobility payment module, magnetic stripe reader etc. However,
you need to shell out extra for these. Besides, Motorola also provides few
utilities and developer tools to help users get started in building the
application to work with MC75.

The Mobile CRM is offered as a downloadable application that can be installed
on BlackBerry, iPhone or Windows Mobile based smartphones. Keeping in view that
most Nokia smartphones are Symbian based and Nokia has a significant market
share in India, the absence of support for Symbian smartphone can be a drawback
for Salesforce in the Indian context. Providing a lighter and free version of
the mobile application from Salesforce.com could be good for those customers who
are apprehensive about paying additional money for this mobile offering, but by
finding mobile access beneficial, they would consider to upgrade to paid
subscription with the passage of time.

Features
The mobile application once installed on the smartphone connects to the
Salesforce.com CRM service cloud over the GPRS. The user can login and get
connected to the CRM server to access information. In the absence of any
connectivity, the application can work in offline mode as well. Frequently
queried and recently accessed information is stored in the device as cache,
providing the user access to information in the offline mode. The mobile
application meant for professional edition provides all the features that the
web interface allows, only that the mobile interface has been optimized to fit
smaller screens.

The Mobile Lite service allows end users to log calls and emails, update
activities and tasks as well as view account and contact details, leads,
opportunities, cases, solutions, assets, and dashboards, all from their mobile
device.

The administrator of the organization’s CRM has the authority to define
access rights for different users. The VP-Sales will have access to all sorts of
reports while the front-line sales executive will have access to information and
reports of his customers only. The application also shows the KPI reports as
graphics. The application allows mobile workers to instantly access critical
customer information, update tasks and event-based information, check details of
next call, and they can also pull up a map of their next appointment. A typical
user can set his dashboard view for mobile application from the web browser.
Thus, CRM users can review cases and search for information and files in their
daily activity reports from a smartphone, which they would otherwisehave done by
accessing their PC.

Next :

Combating Mobile Security

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