When Good Technology first appeared on the wireless e-mail scene in May 2002, RIM had already pioneered the BlackBerry, which stood unchallenged. But Good wasn’t just looking to be the competition, it had a different idea. Mobile Enterprise spoke to insider Sue Forbes around the time Good made several announcements—an updated platform, availability in seven new countries and a new mobile application plan—and asked her to explain what’s happened to wireless e-mail and the mobile industry since the beginning.
Mobile Enterprise: With so many wireless e-mail providers now in the market, what would you say differentiates Good?
Sue Forbes: Well in terms of Good versus RIM, they were the first to enter this market place and they’ve done a great job of opening it up. But one easy way to describe our difference from RIM, is that we fundamentally approach the market from an industry standards perspective giving IT managers the option to pick whatever device they want, using whatever operator. RIM has a proprietary closed model.
In terms of the broader market, I’d say it’s how innovative we are. If you look at the wireless messaging side of our business we have always been describing ourselves as a zero desktop environment, meaning no cradles, no desktop software whatsoever. And now we’ve taken that one step further to Zero IT Touch so you don’t have to bring devices into IT to get them provisioned or upgraded. And that includes our software as well as any other applications loaded on the device.
Another key differentiator is what we call Global Connect. We don’t need any negotiated agreement with a carrier for GoodLink to work. Say you’re a multinational company, you might have a location where you want to get someone up an running, we might have not yet been in touch with that operator, but with Global Connect you can get that person up and running anywhere in the world on any carrier, so long as they have a device we support and a data plan.
ME: How many devices do you support internationally?
SF: We currently support the PalmSource OS with the Treo 600 and 650 and a whole suite of Windows Mobile and Pocket PC devices.
ME: Going back to the zero desktop model, why do you think that is so important?
SF: Zero desktop and Zero IT Touch is very important, because IT managers don’t want to manage software at every person’s desktop, that’s a very expensive process and it raises overall TCO. If you’re an IT manager and you were gong to deploy, say, a thousand of these units; previously you’d have to put the software onto each unit, say that takes 10 minutes per devices. That works out to something outrageous like 5 weeks of an IT manager’s time. With secure over the air (OTA), you don’t have to do any of that, you just set up the GoodLink management console, and the end-user gets a device with a basic data plan, nothing fancy, and goes onto the Web site, then the complete installation and provisioning happens OTA down onto the device.
ME: And from a user’s perspective why is this model beneficial?
SF: The nice thing is that its this fully real-time, pushed synchronization, so you never have to go back to your desk and worry about whether your device has the same information that your desktop does, it just automatically happens.
ME: Aside from Good’s differentiating factors, what do you think are the most important features of wireless messaging to the enterprise?
SF: The most important issue is actually a combination of things. The first is security, whatever they want they want to make sure it’s completely secure, completely protected and that they have complete confidence there’s no unencrypted data floating around.
The second piece is around the ease of deployments, ease of upgrade—simplicity. You want a very low TCO, you want to minimize support calls, you want to make it easier for managers to support this, whether through a management console or a monitoring portal where the manger can do it through a [handheld] device.
The third is what you can provide the end user in terms of device flexibility. IT managers don’t want to feel locked in to a specific device. They recognize the huge players—the Nokias, the Dells, the Motorolas, the HPs, the list is very long—are all entering this market place and the increasing evolution of devices is speeding up as the space grows. They want to have the flexibility to support [different devices] as the evolution happens. In conjunction with that, because of these changing devices they want to make sure the user interface is very intuitive. Going back to low TCO, IT managers don’t want to do a lot of training about how to use wireless messaging and corporate data access.
And they want to make sure that whatever system they go with, gives them not just wireless messaging, but access to corporate applications behind a firewall.
So the five things were: Security, low TCO and management, flexibility of devices and operators, ease of use for the end-user and the ability to connect with corporate applications.
ME: So what is Good doing to make applications, other than e-mail, available to mobile workers?
SF: Wireless e-mail was the killer app in 2004. But e-mail is just the beginning. Mobile professionals need more. Our answer to that demand is GoodAccess. GoodAccess uses the same infrastructure and secure transport layer as GoodLink to develop and deploy mobile enterprise applications. It includes server software, client software and a secure, managed service for extending applications like Salesforce.com, Oracle and Siebel. GoodAccess also includes a tool that allows businesses to quickly assemble an extension that combines data from multiple desktop systems into one unified mobile application—creating an experience that mirrors the natural business process of the user.
ME: So if this is where we are today, where’s the future of wireless e-mail for the enterprise?
I think wireless e-mail is going to be a necessity of any mobile worker’s toolkit. It’s going to be like the cell phone; if you think about 10 or 15 years back a lot of mobile workers didn’t carry cell phones. They all do now. I think wireless e-mail is going to become that way; people will be used to responding to those corporate e-mail messages on a very short turnaround. I think when that happens—obviously we’re still early in that, there are still millions and millions of mobile workers out there who do not have wireless messaging at this time—once they have that tool in their hands, the recognition of the value it provides increases the speed at which they will access applications on top of that. The obvious next step is saying well, now I have my wireless messaging, I want to be able to get to my CRM systems, my immediate price lists, my ability to be able to get into data about my product and a variety of other applications.
One thing that I think is happening today is that this market is hitting the point where it’s entering the mainstream. The networks are all in place with affordable data plans. There are now, as we talked about, many more devices out there. And with us providing the secure OTA, which takes out the roadblock of an IT managers feeling like its too difficult to deploy these types of systems, I really feel that we’ve hit an inflection point in the market. So we’re seeing the evolution to the next phase—when industry standards come alive and allow the flexibility of choice but with the protection and security of standards.