Fattening Up the BlackBerry

Opinion: A mobile CRM solution from Air2Web brings something new to field force automation-a customizable solution that can work across applications and that adds a measure of usability on the client device.

Product introductions, with all of their attendant pitches, promotions and rollout ceremonies, are a fact of life when you work for the high-tech press. Its not unusual for editors to receive dozens of announcements per day.

Some announce things that are dramatically new. Some announce upgrades. Some announce products that arent new but fill holes that others left unfilled. Some announce things that are hyped as "new" but really arent. And so it goes …

One that puts a new wrinkle on an old concept came to me recently from a small Atlanta-based company called Air2Web.

This month, the wireless solutions provider launched a set of mobile and wireless applications called 2CRM.

2CRM is designed to be the link that moves information out of SFA (sales force automation), CRM (customer relationship management), FFA (field force automation) and call-center applications, including Siebel, and onto the BlackBerrys of remote workers who can use the data.

But field force automation? It brings to mind the old bridal adage about something old, something new. There is a lot thats familiar here. Field force automation systems—whether they have to do with sales, fulfillment, transportation or CRM—are hardly new.

Federal Express and United Parcel Service built theirs from scratch back in the days when there were no off-the-shelf solutions.

Salesforce.com made life on the road easier for clients when it went wireless two years ago, only months after its competitors Siebel Systems and PeopleSoft introduced their own portable offerings.

So, at this late date, what does Air2Web have to offer thats different?

Next page: Air2Webs customizable solution.