Microsoft attempts to go deeper into the mobile space

Microsoft Corp. announced the availability of its System Center Mobile Device Manager 2008 solution for mobile devices to provide workers with a way to better manage and control how business information is sent and delivered to these devices while on the go.

Alec Taylor, director of mobile communications business at Microsoft Canada, said the new solution is a reliable, low-cost management tool that integrates well with a business’ existing IT environment.

“It gives IT the functionality on how they want to manage mobile devices,” Taylor said. “IT can also deploy and manage the applications they want on these devices such as CRM (customer relationship management) and device encryption features. They can even disable certain communication features on the mobile device should they so choose,” he added.

Designed for smartphones and PDAs, System Center Mobile Device Manager 2008 provides users with the ease of security by being able to protect sensitive business information via file and storage card encryption on the phone.

For the channel, Taylor said this release marks huge opportunities for the Microsoft Windows Mobile partner community since more and more people are now taking their business and work mobile.

“In emerging markets, a lot of people can’t afford a PC, so they’ll probably opt for some sort of mobile computing device,” Taylor said. “In the developed world, more people are becoming mobile workers out of the office and are making phone calls, receiving and sending e-mails and are working with documents outside of the office. This makes them more productive while they’re out in the field since they don’t have to wait to come back to the office.”

With a Windows Mobile powered device, users have access to the mobile version of Microsoft Office, which includes Outlook Mobile, Word Mobile, Excel Mobile and PowerPoint Mobile.

Since Windows Mobile enables users access their e-mail, calendar and Windows Mobile Office on mobile devices, Taylor mentions customer opportunities being in the healthcare, enforcement, inspection, sales, logistics and oil and gas patch sectors and says the opportunities for partners extend from there.

In the Windows Mobile space, Taylor said systems integrators (SI), independent software vendors (ISVs) and value-added resellers (VARs) can now feel confident about having conversations with their customers to help improve and cater to business needs.

“Our VAR partners can do mobile makeovers with Exchange and unified communications around Office Communication Server and with Windows Mobile,” he suggested. “For ISVs, they can now customize the solution to allow the sales professional to take information and work wherever and whenever they need to.”

Taylor also suggests Windows Mobile is great for mobile printing, which he said, is most popular with sales representatives and real estate agents because the mobile device can be used with a bluetooth-enabled mobile printer for printing documents on the fly.

For Micheal LoPatriello, CEO of Toronto-based Luna Development, a services and solution company and also Microsoft ISV focusing on small and mid-sized companies, said since making a push into the mobile space in the last few years, he has seen the opportunities and uptake for mobile solutions explode.

“We’re in the process of becoming certified in the Microsoft mobile competency in the partner program,” LoPatriello said. “Microsoft has a rich feature set around mobile development and now that everything’s based around the phone, employees don’t necessarily have to come back to the office. Most customers are either looking at these devices to see what they can do with them out of the office, or they’re looking at becoming mobile, so it’s the next logical step for them to get a mobile solution,” he added.

Taylor mentions Microsoft Canada is currently in talks with mobile operators to roll out a Microsoft Mobile Services Plan (MMSP) sometime before the end of the year. With this plan, users will experience consistency and uniformity across Windows Mobile 6.1 phones.

“Right now, there’s so much white space in terms of where the opportunities are,” Taylor said. “That means green fields of opportunities for partners because it’s such a growth market. My expectations are high for Canada,” he adds.

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Maxine Cheung
Maxine Cheung
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