BM Sees Enterprise Appeal in Wireless Net Boom

New mobile Rational, Lotus and Domino apps hit the street, backed up by new carrier partnerships designed to cash in on a booming trend.
Posted August 10, 2008

Judy Mottl

Mobile apps
IBM (NYSE: IBM) continues sounding the charge on bringing its enterprise software to mobile users, today introducing several new offerings as well as partnerships with carriers AT&T (NYSE: T) and Sprint (NYSE: S) to extend its Rational, Lotus and Domino applications to wireless devices.

Products include Rational Host Access Transformation Services (HATS), an application that allows mobile devices users to access mainframe applications. The new WebSphere Business Monitor software, which enables enterprises to measure business processes and performance, is now available for Research in Motion's BlackBerry devices, and will be provided for the Apple iPhone in the fourth quarter of 2008.

IBM also said the carriers certified its Lotus Notes Traveler software for select smartphones.

The news marks the latest in IBM's push to extend its collaboration tools to mobile enterprises and capitalize on the growing momentum behind remote workers and ever-more-powerful wireless devices -- trends that IBM views as a natural extension of the desktop work environment, according to John Dunderdale, vice president of sales at IBM Lotus.

"Enterprises are looking for application and data access in the mobile environment and it's a natural progression of where business is going," Dunderdale said.

In May, Big Blue unveiled a mobile collaboration and communications package for the BlackBerry.

IBM isn't the only one seeing the value in pushing its software to the mobile enterprise. SAP integrated its customer relationship management application into the BlackBerry in May, for instance.

Research in Motion (NASDAQ: RIMM) itself moved to better capitalize on mobile app development, partnering to create a $150 million investment fund to encourage the trend.

Even the Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) iPhone, often thought of as a consumer-oriented device, is seeing mounting interest in its capabilities to offer enterprise software.

The thinking behind such efforts is often based around the wide expectations for the continued proliferation in the mobile Internet. IBM said its research suggests that the number of mobile Internet users worldwide this year is projected to approach 1 billion, a 191 percent increase from 2006, and that there will be 2 billion mobile devices in use by 2011. The company also said its studies found that 67 percent of all workers, not just its own, are using mobile computing and projects.

IBM's interest in mobile technology is also reflected in its own employees' appetite for wireless apps. Dunderdale said 40 percent of IBM's employees are mobile warriors who don't report to a company location on a daily basis. Big Blue has 35,000 BlackBerry devices deployed internally, in addition to other smartphone devices, he added.

"We realized that as our own users have mobile requirements, so do our customers," Dunderdale said. "Mobile device use is now a dependency."

Those trends propelled IBM to launch its new Mobility@Work program, a consulting and implementation services effort that the vendor claims can help customers increase productivity by as much as 30 percent.

“The mobile Web presents one of the largest emerging market opportunities we've seen in a decade as billions of people look to access a wide range of services, both for business and personal use,” Drew Clark, strategy director for IBM's Venture Capital Group, said in a statement.

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