March 23, 2006
 

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Posted: 04.04

Pointing the Way to the Web

Enterprise security firm provides worldwide salesforce with offline access to corporate data.
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By Eric M. Zeman




These days, chances are if you run any sort of IT system within your enterprise (anyone NOT in this boat?) one thing you’re worried about is its security. With vicious attacks on the rise worldwide, believing in the sanctity of your competitive information is vital.

This means you are probably familiar with Check Point Software Technologies, a worldwide developer in securing the Internet and provider of VPN and firewall products. Check Point delivers a broad range of security solutions that protect business communications and resources for corporate networks and applications, remote employees, branch offices and partner extranets. Headquartered in both Ramat Gan, Israel, and Redwood City, Calif., Check Point employs 1,200 people and a salesforce consisting of about 400 field representatives.

With worldwide wireless coverage less than consistent, the reps needed a reliable way to access company information while on the road. Hamutal Einhorn, project manager responsible for sales systems, notes, “We realized a lot of people are spending time offline while on the road, so it would be great to give them access while on the road to all sorts of applications and documents, and very valuable for them if they could access content and resources specifically when they are offline.”

Approximately two years ago, Check Point began to create a portal for the sales people so they could access all their information with a single user name and password from a single point. Since they already used SAP, SAP recommended San Jose, Calif.-based BackWeb and its portal application. BackWeb’s technology provides an online experience while users are offline.

Check Point started with several small, successful trials before rolling out to all 400 sales reps. “We had a very good reception and reaction from the sales people; they wanted more things available online, more functionality. It makes their work lives much more efficient. They can sit with customers and can download information on the spot to help with the sales pitches,” says Einhorn.

Basically the way it works is, reps fire up their IBM Thinkpads, connect to the system and activate the content page to their hard drive. Once activated, the offline portion synchronizes with the online portion with any changes that were made to the content while the reps were offline. Synching is straightforward and users can stop the synch and reconnect as needed. Of course, connections vary according to laptop, modem and region of the world.

Bottom line results? “We definitely see an increase in productivity, according to feedback from our reps,” notes Einhorn. Users used to download to local servers and work, so versions of certain files became different. Now they spend less time trying to connect and keep everything updated. “They can access certain pieces of information at will, such as the interactive price list, and it has helped them a lot. Everything is updated frequently, so everything is up to date. The latest version is always available.”

Though Check Point hasn’t supplied any hard numbers, they feel 33 percent of the increases they’ve seen in the salesforce in the last year are due to the implementation of the BackWeb Offline Access Server. That’s already contributing in its way to the satisfaction of people and to their ability to manage their sales better.

Now only if they could do something about the hackers. •
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