Girding the Mobile Workforce

Wireless app developers debut a raft of products to help users bring the office on the road.

CANNES, France—To make work easier for the mobile professional, wireless application developers this week are unveiling products that make working on the road more closely resemble working at a desk.

Glenayre Electronics Inc. announced a presence and availability management platform that will let service providers offer instant wireless conferencing services to business users. In addition to making available via mobile phones the kind of instant messaging capabilities widely used in the wireline mode, the service can be tied to Microsoft Corp.s Outlook functions.

Announcing the platform at the 3GSM World Congress here, Glenayre said that it chose presence and availability software from Teltier Technologies Inc. of Clark, N.J. The service will allow users to check the location and availability of colleagues, initiate instant conference calls, be alerted of call participants availability and manage messages.

With roots in the paging industry, Glenayres customers are primarily wireless carriers, but the companys presence and availability products are suited to wireline networks as well, said Joellyn Sargent, vice president of marketing at Glenayre in Duluth, Ga. The platform will be available in the second quarter of this year, she said.

Telmap Ltd., a mapping software developer in Herzilia, Israel, this week unveiled an "off-board" navigation application for wireless phones. For the frequently traveling workforce, desktop mapping technologies will no longer be necessary, said Oren Nissim, CEO of Telmap.

Similar to Mapquest or other Internet-based location systems, Telmaps Polaris for Cellular system, which previously was only available on PDAs, provides graphic maps and text directions over a wireless telephone. Unlike on-board navigation systems, in which the map database resides in a vehicle, Polaris is always up-to-date because its data resides on a remote server.

"On a daily basis, an enterprises customer base can change," said Nissim. "They need a way of putting their customers on the map every day."

The system provides best routes, with turn-by-turn instructions slated for a small handset screen. It will also display the route graphically and via voice. Calling the system "the worlds first off-board navigation application that downloads map data as you go," Nissim said that Polaris works on any Java-enabled wireless handset. "People really get used to this convenience, and it is a source of comfort and safety," he said, adding that Telmap will soon announce a major European service provider that will offer the Polaris system to subscribers.

Finnish software maker Smartner Information Systems Ltd. this week rolled out a wireless office access technology for the mobile workforce. The Helsinki-based company is working with IBM Technology and Services to help wireless service providers quickly launch new business applications.

Smartners Office Extender, running on IBM WebSphere middleware, allows service providers to distribute new e-business services to a large market. In particular, the technology is aimed at small and mid-sized businesses, which do not always have the resources to integrate mobility into their communications systems, Jussi Raisanen, Smartner co-founder and vice president, said.

With Smartners new cooperative arrangement with IBM, service providers that purchase the technology do not have to administer it themselves but can simply connect to IBMs hosting centers.

Also Wednesday, L.M. Ericsson announced that it will begin distributing RealNetworks products, including Helix Universal Server, in its Content Delivery Solution to promote streaming media over mobile networks.