03-01-2005, 06:28 PM
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| | [03-01-2005] BlackBerry Faces Competition
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BlackBerry may appear to be the flavour of the month, but a new type of software, OpenHand - distributed in SA by Igoma - looks set to take it on headfirst. |
UK-based OpenHand launched its South African operation late last year, with Absa as its foundation client, and has been described by MD Graham Higginson as being able to operate across any network, from anywhere in the world on any device.
"OpenHand provides fast, secure, real-time, low-cost access to Microsoft Exchange and Lotus Domino, and offers the mobile worker access to e-mail, contacts, appointments, tasks, public folders, global address books and databases," says Higginson.
"The software was actually designed around the concept of security, and only once we had the security where we wanted it did we work on issues such as speed and functionality."
He says that while Absa is a key client in SA, the company has also done roll-outs for other major institutions, including the UK's National Health Service, which is reportedly the third largest employer in the world, behind the Indian railways and the Chinese Army.
Higginson says while BlackBerry has its own advantages, the difference between it and OpenHand is that where BlackBerry can only run on GPRS and 3G networks, and has roaming options in 40 countries, OpenHand offers a choice of over 650 networks globally and can operate over GPRS, WiFi, satellite and dial-up.
According to Herman Schouwink, IT support manager at Absa Group IT, financial institutions always consider security to be of paramount importance, which is why the bank chose OpenHand.
"Security is a critical issue for us and we cannot have important information lying around on mobile devices, which is why the fact that OpenHand stores the information on a secure server, rather than the device itself, was of crucial importance," he says.
"Mobility is not for everybody, and you need to ensure the right options are available to the right people at the right time - it is ultimately about enabling your road warriors and managers to be able to do their jobs correctly and easily, wherever they are."
Higginson says his company is talking to some big integrators in the local market who have government clients, which is ideal, as the government is a target market.
"If we can help, say, health workers to win back an hour of their day through mobility, it will allow doctors to do their jobs better, and improve healthcare costs all round," he says.
"I am not saying this will revolutionise things, but it will definitely form a piece of the puzzle in the greater scheme of things."
He claims that the company is also talking to several other major financial institutions in SA, but these appear to be waiting to see the results of Absa's software trials.
"We are very positive about our future in SA and expect to be announcing some big clients in the next few weeks," says Higginson.