Centralizing CRM Herron wanted to ditch the laptops and move to a centralized data system that ICU salespeople could access via wireless Internet using a Palm Pilot. MacMullin brought in Collective Communications Dave Feldman for a presentation, and ICU decided to become a beta tester of Collectives ePDA middleware. The ePDA product, says MacMullin, "is communications software that allows the user to connect to a variety of data stores, such as GoldMine, through the wireless Internet. When they access the data, theyre actually accessing it as a node on the network in real time, just as if they were workstation users on the network. We use the Palm OS screen forms. We can search data, we can create and edit notes, add new records to the database, maintain our calendaring [and] use it as a basic contact manager."The client controls authentication and security, so the server can identify the user who is logging in. "When you log in for the first time and you need access to your database and advertising schedules, you wont have any of the applications on your device," says Feldman. "It will recognize you when you log in and see what applications youre allowed, then download those applications dynamically to your device. This also happens automatically whenever applications have been added or changed."
Collectives ePDA consists of two basic pieces. The ePDA Collective server resides behind the enterprise firewall and in front of existing data warehouses and applications. On the users end is a client that, in the ICU implementation, resides on a Palm Pilot VIIx.