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Evaluating Mobile Email Solutions
One size doesn't fit all
By: Freeform Dynamics
Published: September 2007

Now that mobile email is moving into the mainstream, with technology and services widely available to businesses of all sizes, organisations looking to either invest for the first time or review their current arrangements are presented with a range of approaches and options for moving forward. But how do you make sense of these and figure out the best option for your business?

KEY POINTS

Mobile email remains front and centre on wireless handhelds
While interest in mobile access to a range of corporate systems such as CRM and ERP is steadily growing, messaging is still the primary driver for investment in handheld technology for business professionals, and according to 756 business and IT professionals participating in a recent online study, it’s going to remain this way for at least the next couple of years.

If your course isn’t yet set, you are likely to be faced with some decisions
The debate about whether email on the move is going to be an integral part of business life into the future is now pretty much over. If you are not yet convinced, you are probably in the minority. Some organisations have already set their direction in this area in terms of technology choices, but if you have yet to take the plunge, or need to review an informal, limited or piecemeal capability that’s currently in place, then decisions need to be made and it is you that this report is designed to help.

Understanding the options and evaluating them objectively is critical
All mobile email solutions have one thing in common – they allow a user to send and receive messages via a handheld device. Where they differ significantly is in the way they do this, which in turn determines which underlying mail servers and services they will work with effectively, the experience delivered to the user, and the ease with which they can be set up and administered. Solutions designed to work with large scale Microsoft Exchange or Lotus Domino systems are not necessarily going to help the large number of small businesses relying on ISP hosted POP3 mailboxes, and vice versa. And from a user perspective, solutions conceived for occasional low volume access will be inadequate for road warriors, while fully comprehensive mailbox mirroring and attachment handling may be overkill or difficult to cost justify for relatively light requirements.

Check out the main players, but look beyond these too before making a decision
Research in Motion (RIM) is the current market leader with its BlackBerry Enterprise Server middleware and the BlackBerry Internet Service delivered through mobile operators. The challenger to the crown is Microsoft, with its mobile email capability embedded natively into Exchange. It is worth investigating other options, however, that sometimes provide greater freedom in terms of device support and/or systems integration. Mobile operator branded relay services and total hosted email offerings with a mobile access option particularly address the needs of smaller businesses, so there is nothing practical or technical now standing in the way of any organisation moving forwards with email on the move, regardless of its size and requirements.

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