RIM: Email? Been there, done that

The company's latest trick is mobilising enterprise data applications, but it may face corporate scepticism

RIM is attempting to shake off its 'mobile email company' image with the launch of a product that will help customers deploy business applications without touching corporate inboxes.

The BlackBerry maker has launched its Enterprise Server for Mobile Data Solutions (MDS), allowing companies to mobilise data apps, including field service applications, sales force automation and CRM, without having to deploy email alongside.

The MDS is a framework for building and managing wireless applications and gives users application tools and management capabilities similar to those used for email deployments.

Charmaine Eggberry, RIM vice presidnet for for EMEA, said the company that kick-started the CrackBerry phenomenon now has its sights set on new applications.

She said: "People have started this journey. They're either using this already or they're using it shortly. Where is this thing going next? Absolutely beyond email... Frankly, we've done that." Eggberry added that education is key in deployments of more advanced applications.

According to Ellen Daley, vice president and research director at Forrester, 60 percent of companies the analyst house talked to are interested in mobilising new apps.

Daley warned, however, deploying "line of business" applications beyond email will present enterprises with different challenges.

She said: "Rarely do we see companies requiring ROI justification for wireless email. That's not the case for line of business applications. They're looking for payback in the six months to 18 months timeframe."

Adidas is one such company to have gone beyond email, building its own automated sales force process. The investment was apparently paid back with a single order.