CeBIT: Mobilize the Enterprise
By Steve Wallage, Mon Mar 17 14:30:00 GMT 2003

Increasing numbers of deeper and broader cross market cooperations will prevail.

Much of the media attention from CeBIT and the 3GSM World Congress has been focused on the consumer market, particularly the response to new handsets and 3G launches. But a lot of interest and a number of announcements have been centred on the enterprise market.

Three key trends surfaced. First, the increased emphasis on the needs of the enterprise and the chief information officer. The CIO expects mobile applications to offer similar levels of reliability, security, management and return on investment as fixed offerings, and expects them to integrate with and complement their existing IT applications and services. The CIO also wants "future-proof" technology - which means that vendors have to show a real commitment to the development of standards.

Second, the increased desire of vendors to go after the mobile enterprise market. The traditional mobile vendors are desperate to ensure that they remain important players in the enterprise market and do not lose out on the high value markets. The large IT vendors see the move to mobile data as their opportunity to become far more prominent in the mobile market - for instance, IBM has estimated that its addressable market is at least twice as large in mobile data as compared to mobile voice. Surveys have shown that IT and telecoms departments would far rather go to a systems integrator than a mobile operator for the deployment of a mobile solution.

Third, the rise in the appeal of partnerships. Recent announcements have illustrated that companies, particularly in the mobile and IT sectors, understand the need to partner to provide a complete offering. Simplistically, this can leverage the data skills and the understanding of the CIO needs of the IT vendor, with the specific mobile skills and relationships, installed base and experience of the mobile vendor. The obvious exception to this trend has been Microsoft, with its rather optimistic strategy of often going it alone in targeting most parts of the mobile value chain.

Some of the interesting recent announcements that illustrate these trends include the following.

Alcatel and Sun

Alcatel and Sun Microsystems have a new initiative aimed at service providers looking to offer enterprise applications over wireless networks. The deal is 'device-agnostic' allowing both fixed and mobile devices to be used, with a strong focus on security and open standards (Java). As part of the relationship, both companies are offering their testing centers to mobile operators.

Oracle and Nokia

Oracle and Nokia are working together to offer Oracle Collaboration Suite on advanced Nokia terminals such as the Symbian-based 3650 and 9200 series. This provides users with integrated e-mail, calendaring and contact management capabilities. The partnership will be extended with the forthcoming release of the new version of the Oracle Collaboration Suite. The companies plan to allow CIOs to support all mobile employees with the software.

Samsung and Symbian

As a sign of further industry support and co-operation, Samsung has announced it will acquire a 5% shareholding in Symbian. This will have the effect of slightly reducing the shareholdings of existing investors; Ericsson/Sony Ericsson, Panasonic, Motorola, Nokia, Psion and Siemens. Symbian now has eight licensees. Further support for the Symbian platform also came from IBM who announced that it will deploy its WebSphere Everyplace Access client on Symbian.

IBM and Nokia

IBM and Nokia have announced a series of joint ventures and partnerships. The most recent is an extension of the IBM e-business infrastructure to create end-to-end enterprise wireless solutions. This is based on the IBM WebSphere infrastructure software and IBM's recently announced Wireless Enterprise Delivery Environment (WEDE), together with advanced Nokia terminals. The 3GSM Congress demonstration showed a mobile worker accessing and synchronizing data from address book, e-mail and salesforce application, using a browser on a Nokia terminal.

IBM and Nokia reaffirmed the depth of their partnership with plans to jointly develop and market wireless solutions to enterprise customers globally.

Sun and Nokia

Sun and Nokia announced plans to link the Sun Services' Data Service Delivery Framework with the Nokia Delivery Server. The plan is to offer service providers a delivery mechanism for a variety of downloadable and browsing content.

Seven and Stellent

Wireless e-mail platform provider Seven is to use technology from Stellent to enable users to view attachments on their mobile devices. The Stellent technology converts the attachments to WML which can be viewed by more than 200 different devices.

Future Partnerships

The number of partnerships will continue to increase but two themes will become more evident. First, there will be far more relationships between companies coming from different market segments such as IT, consulting and mobile. Second, some of these partnerships will become far deeper and broader. The evolving IBM and Nokia relationship is a good example of this.

Steve Wallage works and writes for the451. Steve has more than 13 years of experience as a technology analyst specializing in telecommunications.