March 23, 2006
 

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Posted: 09.15.05

Nokia Launches Corporate E-mail System

Nokia, this week, announced its egalitarian new corporate e-mail system, the Nokia Business Center, which is designed to offer employees of all ranks an affordable way to send and receive e-mail from their mobile phones. Currently, only 10 million of the world’s 650 million corporate e-mail accounts are accessed from mobile devices, mostly by high-ranking company officials or salespeople. Nokia vows to change that and give all employees access.
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By Rita Kushnir




Nokia Business Center comes in two versions: standard and professional. The standard client allows the user to write, read and delete e-mail, work offline and manage local folders. It includes support for English, French, German, Spanish and Italian languages. The professional client version, in addition to all features of the standard, offers a graphical e-mail experience similar to that provided by Microsoft Outlook. It also includes support for handling meeting requests, sorted views, full attachment support and corporate directory access. When a company purchases a Nokia Business Center server license, the standard version of the software is free. Each server license covers 400 people and retails for $2,218. The professional version requires an additional one-time per-user fee.

Nokia Business Center offers a streamline data transfer path to secure the exchanged information. It communicates directly with devices rather than the "store and forward" method often used by other e-mail solutions. In addition, the system offers end-to-end encryption of data transport, storage and over-the-air synchronization.

The major selling point of Nokia Business Center that gives it an edge over e-mail giant BlackBerry is the integration of phone and e-mail. “A lot of people are using two things,” says Will Willis, spokesperson for Nokia. “They are using a phone and a BlackBerry device. So it’s hard to integrate when you’re using your phone all the time for voice and you’re using your BlackBerry all the time for e-mail. But if you use one device for both e-mail and your phone, the two aspects of it are integrated very well. If you missed a call, you can click on it and you can send [the caller] an e-mail or if you see a conference call number in one of your e-mails, you click on it and, all of a sudden, you are dialing that conference call to join that meeting. If you’re looking at a contact, you can give a single click to send them a text message or send them an e-mail or add them from the corporate directory to your own personal directory.”

The e-mail system uses a Java standard that is supported by most mobile devices with smartphone capabilities. This, in combination with the choice of a client, offers various cost-saving strategies for companies to implement. “You can give [someone higher up] a fully functional e-mail,” says Willis. “You can give them a smartphone and they would be able to use that device to do all of the functions that they would on Microsoft Outlook on their laptop, whereas if they had an administrative assistant, maybe it’s very valuable for them to have e-mail as well but they don’t need all the functionality. They just needed to be able to read and to reply. So you can give them something like a Series 40 phone, which is a lot less of an investment cost-wise, and a basic standard client, which is free to enable. So it is that choice of features and functionality that I think is new and has not been done before.”

Several companies, including Accenture UK, are in the pilot stages of deploying Nokia Business Center, the full version of which is expected to be available in November via select carriers and accredited resellers.
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