Vodafone seeks to integrate enterprise applications

The mobile operator launches a service for mobilising applications including Salesforce.com and SAP

Vodafone has moved further into the field of systems integration for enterprise mobile devices with the launch of its Applications Service.

The service is aimed at enterprises looking to mobilise applications such as Salesforce.com, Oracle, SAP, Siebel and Remedy, and is the result of Vodafone's December acquisition of the systems integrator Aspective. Supported handsets will include BlackBerry devices, Windows Mobile Pocket PCs and Symbian devices.

"This is an important part of our ongoing strategy to service the total communications needs of our enterprise customers," said Kyle Whitehill, Vodafone UK's enterprise business unit director, on Tuesday. "Through the Vodafone Applications Service, we are helping our customers maximise the benefits of their investment in enterprise software with a new service that combines applications, access and service in one complete package."

Ovum analyst Jeremy Green noted on Tuesday that Vodafone had been "working on this for some time", ever since the Aspective acquisition. However, he told ZDNet UK that mobile operators have "been relatively unsuccessful in selling any applications beyond mail" and Vodafone could face difficulty in getting larger enterprises to buy into its new role as a systems integrator.

"The larger enterprises will be very reluctant to trust mobile operators to do anything other than be a carrier," said Green, suggesting that the service might do better among small and medium-sized enterprises, who are "less hostile and less well-served by other elements in the ICT value chains".

Elaine Roberts, Vodafone UK's head of enterprise marketing, disagreed with Green. "We have engaged a number of customers already with this service and started rolling it out," she said, adding that those were large corporate accounts. "Compared to some large systems integrators, Vodafone's real strength comes from mobility. In the past we've seen some systems integrators saying they can run mobile applications, but it becomes clear they don't have the skills or competencies."

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