Corporate Mobile E-Mail Comes of Age

Carl Weinschenk

This long InformationWeek feature takes a systematic look at enterprise mobile e-mail packages. The piece points out the dichotomy between the growing use of mobile e-mail among consumers and the fact that it is far from ubiquitous in the enterprise, the popularity of BlackBerry notwithstanding. The reality is that many corporations support enterprise e-mail, but often deploy it only to a short list of executives.


The story says the reasons that mobile e-mail is not an across-the-board presence in the enterprise include cost, psycho-social barriers -- only top executives rate the application -- perceived lack of need and the hope that employees will use their own devices if the company holds off on supplying them.


The feature is structured around a request for information from a mock company looking for an enterprise mobile e-mail platform. The RFI went to Microsoft, Motorola/Good Technology, Nokia/Intellisync, Research in Motion and Sybase iAnywhere. Many results and opinions are offered in the article. The author concludes that the entire spectrum of products is improving -- BlackBerry no longer is the only game in town -- and prices are dropping. A sidebar lays out the business case for adopting a mobile e-mail platform.


Vendors clearly see a promising market. Early last week, Motorola released Good Mobile Messaging 5. The new version of the company's software offers more personalization and heightens IT control, the release says.


Good Technology was acquired by Motorola in January. The newest version of its product enables users to group and find e-mails by conversation, dial without password entry and provides access to end-to-end calendaring. Good Mobile Messaging 5 also lets users edit and send pictures in a number of applications and access SMS, MMS and personal e-mail from Good Home Screen. For IT departments, improvements include the ability to enforce mandatory applications and lock down Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and other features. IT departments also have access to advanced password management, advanced encryption management and simplified load balancing.


Security is a concern that could slow down enterprise mobile e-mail adoption. BlackBerry late last month achieved Common Criteria Certification at EAL2+ for its mobile Synchronization Services (MSS). The story says that in general, EAL certification is necessary for a product's use in "security-relevant areas" of financial or health-related governmental organizations. The story describes concerns that were held about BlackBerry security based on a study carried out in 2005 by the German Federal Office for Information Security. The certification clearly eliminates lingering worries.


In mid-September, Nokia introduced the E51, which is aimed at enterprise users. This Reuters story said Nokia executives say that only 2 percent of corporate e-mail accounts are mobile and that the company expects big growth in the sector. Indeed, they say, there will be 880 million workers using cell phones or laptops by 2009. The story suggests Nokia believes the ramp-up has begun.


The bottom line is that mobile e-mail, pushed by consumer acceptance and, not incidentally, the iPhone, is coming of age. Enterprise IT managers should work closely with corporate planners to find platforms that are robust, secure and provide the applications that the company requires.

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