By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2006-10-17 Print this article Print

."> "The key here is productivity," Raney said, "and it should be viewed as a productivity tool." Raney cautioned that companies shouldnt just give a push-to-talk handset to everyone.
"What you dont want to do is put it into the hands of people who dont need it," she said. "Other people could be listening. You need to sit down and analyze your business and wireless strategy, and put the right tools in their hands to accomplish your wireless goal."
Of the three wireless providers that offer push to talk, Cingular could be seen as working hardest to find new ways to use the service. For example, one large customer (Cingular declines to give names), is using push-to-talk to facilitate a mentoring program. "Theres a company thats using it with their employees independent of the formal organization structure," said Cingulars vice president of Mobility Marketing, Joe Lueckenhoff. According to Lueckenhoff, the company puts new employees into a push-to-talk group with their mentors, and whenever they have a question ranging from problems with the HR department to finding new ways of doing things, they can talk to their group. Read more here about Samsungs efforts in the push-to-talk market. "The mentor facilitates that conversation. They can all talk among themselves and share anecdotes," Lueckenhoff said. Lueckenhoff said that one feature of the Cingular GSM based push-to-talk network is that it allows users to take advantage of the idea of presence. They can tell at a glance whether a member of their group is available to talk. He said that in the case of the mentoring program, group members can see if their mentor is available, and if the mentor isnt, they can contact another one. One advantage to using the Cingular GSM network is that its more widely available than any of the other push-to-talk networks. Lueckenhoff said that Cingular is already working on the ability to use it globally because GSM is a global standard. "We have more coverage than anyone in the United States including Sprint Nextel," he said. Cingular has a number of features that the company is using to draw the attention of customers in addition to the ability to see if someone is available before you contact them. Lueckenhoff said that users can set up their own groups on the fly, they can convert a push-to-talk call into a cell phone call, and they can create conference calls whenever they want to. He said that unlike other push-to-talk offerings, Cingulars offers voice mail for when the user isnt available. Business users for Cingulars push-to-talk capability are much like those for the other services. They include small businesses in which all or most employees will have the capability, and large companies, where its more dependent on the actual job function. "In a large company, its usually divisions, such as the IT group, fleet management, or servicing organizations," Lueckenhoff said. "The government is big. Were selling a lot of this into law enforcement, even on the federal level," he added. Lueckenhoff said that Cingular expects to have over a million push-to-talk users by 2007. Verizon Wireless declined to discuss how many users the company had. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis on mobile and wireless computing.

Wayne Rash Wayne Rash is a Senior Analyst for eWEEK Labs and runs the magazineÔÇÖs Washington Bureau. Prior to joining eWEEK as a Senior Writer on wireless technology, he was a Senior Contributing Editor and previously a Senior Analyst in the InfoWorld Test Center. He was also a reviewer for Federal Computer Week and Information Security Magazine. Previously, he ran the reviews and events departments at CMP's InternetWeek.

He is a retired naval officer, a former principal at American Management Systems and a long-time columnist for Byte Magazine. He is a regular contributor to Plane & Pilot Magazine and The Washington Post.

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