Comdex: Mobile business services creating a buzz

Mobile business services - this year's buzz topic in Las Vegas

Mobile for business is the main buzz topic at Comdex this week, with many of the new mobile products and services targeting the business user and claiming varying degrees of integration with existing IT infrastructures.

In her keynote address to Comdex, Hewlett Packard chief executive Carly Fiorina outlined the life-enhancing capabilities of mobile services based on open standards. She encouraged the industry to put people first in the invention of new mobile services and devices.

Fiorina used as an example a recent initiative with Nokia which enables cell phone users to print documents from HP printers including airline and cinema tickets, when the phone user is on the road.

EDS was a little more conservative in its evangelising. Existing mobile services are convenient "but hardly revolutionary", said Dr Reza Jafari, president of the global communications media & entertainment industry group. "True mobility is not achieved yet. But it is near, and before long it will be here", he added.

As for Fiorina's cutting edge printer scenario, Jafari was scythe-like: "I don't want to have to print out tickets. I'd rather just go to the cinema, have the ticket machine talk to my PDA, and say 'sure Reza come right in you have paid to be here'."

The Dow PetroChemical company is the first large organisation to adopt EDS' INF mobile services platform, with the technology being used to connect engineers surveying in the field, as well as mobile executives. But EDS claims its mobile offering is not just for big companies. Smaller firms "don't have to buy it, we have been running this for years on a beureau basis. It is in the interest of EDS to plug you in to the service offering." Jafari told ZDNet. There will also be opportunities for small software developers to build solutions for mobile business.

EDS sees Europe as the heart of the action for 3G and will offer 3G licence winners a platform which it calls 3G mobile in a box... "bring the licence to us and we'll build an infrastructure and platform together to get you to market and get you the market share", said Jafari.

Although America is trailing Europe in 3G, the movement to build mobile business infrastructure is gaining momentum. "Corporate America is demanding it -- there is not a single Fortune 500 company that is not now implementing some kind of mobile solution," said EDS' John McCain.

"The managers will be out in the field improving customer relations", and will need be in touch with vital enterprise applications and data, not just email and IM.

See full coverage at ZDNet UK's Comdex Special.

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