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December 2003

Interviews & Q&A

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Seeing New Sparks

Now that the economy is finally starting to pick up, so is capital spending and interest in mobile applications.

By Eric M. Zeman

In our quest to help organizations make the most of their mobile technology, we decided to tap the know-how of Randy Brouckman, CEO of enterprise mobile applications vendor Telispark. Brouckman is responsible for overall strategic planning, organizational alignment and all of Telispark operations. Brouckman joined Telispark in 2001 as part of the acquisition of Wireless World Solutions, where he served as CEO.

Mobile Enterprise: Why do you think companies have been slow on the uptake in deploying mobile solutions?

Randy Brouckman: The last three years, capital spending has been tight. Mobile applications and even service applications have been postponed. Now people really care about cash flow, capital expeditures and the look and feel of the balance sheet. Big asset industries are taking more interest in expanding the life of their assets, and that’s where mobile applications can really have a big impact. Folks are starting to realize the potential for ROI and are getting on with it. We’re seeing a bit of a transformation in the market. Certainly in verticals like utilities there is a tremendous increase in buying activity.

ME: What general trends do you see the mobile market taking over the next three to five years?

RB: Some of the things we are starting to see happen besides an increase in activity is a coalescence around the applications and the business processes. A few years ago we saw people building their own applications, and then their own toolkits, but we’re starting to see applications really take on lives of their own with an increase in mobility to include things like workforce and dispatch management. In a
nutshell, the market is maturing and companies are transforming with not one but many enterprise locations and standardized applications. Frankly there will be an increase in mobile spending because a lot of early adopters are now seeing returns on the initial investments they’ve made.

ME: Where do you see different technologies like Wi-Fi and 3G playing a role?

RB: Certainly they are enablers. Coupling Wi-Fi with Centrino and PDAs, smartphones and laptops can be real productivity tools. They are also helping transition the marketplace from push to pull. The usefulness of 3G networks is yet to be seen. For mobility to really work, computing needs to be seamless in and out of coverage. But coverage is not ubiquitous and anyone who assumes it will be is heading down the wrong path.

ME: What are your thoughts about the continually growing number of mobile workers?

RB: There is definitely an increase in the percentage of mobile workers, including both service and knowledge workers. Companies are also interested in making sure those mobile workers can be more productive. Mobility helps make people more, not less, productive.

ME: What is one take-away that companies interested in mobility should realize before taking the plunge?

RB: Folks look an awful lot at ROI and TCO. What they need to realize is that mobility is about the business process and not the technology. Enterprises need to be able to take the technology and use it to transform and optimize their business processes. The ability to pre-integrate all the major IT infrastructure players and acquire wireless road solutions is key to realizing that mobile applications are different from software programs. Those who are knowledgeable about vertical industries and have built applications are well positioned to succeed in the marketplace. •

Copyright 2004 Leisure Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.
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