Being away from your desk is no excuse for not getting work done. With the e-business era companies are looking to automate their entire business processes by going mobile.

Today's smartphones have become work necessities, not mere niceties. The smartphones available in the market combine portable storage with e-mail, camera, browser, push email, business card storage, video functions as well as compact word processing, spreadsheet and presentation applications — all in an ultra-portable and lightweight form.

"The office initially became mobile thanks to the standardisation of wi-fi protocols and architectures from the IT industry. The second breakthrough occurred from the telecommunication industry when data became accessible from anywhere thanks to GPRS and 3G technology. From a software stand point, Microsoft developed a fully integrated mobile operating system — Windows mobile — which made it easier for users to accept mobile technology," says Ivan Ducournau, Business Notebooks and Handhelds Product Manager, PSG, HP Middle East.

Shady Saeed, Senior Manager Product Marketing, Wireless for Etisalat, says that companies that adopt office automation have two main needs. "One is basic communication which is now moving to email, replacing fax and other forms of paper communication. As companies use email for official business communication, there is a need to access email no matter when or where the employee is, especially for companies that run businesses that are sensitive to time schedule and team coordination," he says.

Advanced companies however are not only using e-mail, but they have started to automate all their businesses processes to move towards the eBusiness era and are looking for methods to mobilise this eBusiness infrastructure.

The BlackBerry solution has an element called MDS (mobile data system), a part of the BlackBerry enterprise server that is installed on the company side and integrates with the company IP network. The MDS is capable of integrating different IT systems that the company has and makes it possible to access these eBusiness processes no matter when or where the company task force is. MDS can integrate with companies IT system using standard interfaces such as SOAP, HTTP, XML and WML. MDS also provides a development suite to enable companies to implement the integration to the company system.

"New features on the BlackBerry move an office out of a brick and mortar environment and include full integration to the company IT system including e-mail, high-speed access due to the integral design of the system that gives it an edge over any other mobile solution," says Saeed.

The HP iPAQ 514 voice messenger and the HP iPAQ 614 business navigator both offer full remote connectivity to their users. "The fact that VOIP is not enabled in the UAE is not a stumbling block for the HP iPAQ 514 Voice Messenger. Besides VOIP, the key advantages of the iPAQ 514 reside in its autonomy – up to 6.5 hours of talk time and its voice commander converts your phone into your personal 'voice valet' with over 20 speaker independent commands supported in its e-mail voice reply feature," says Ducournau.

Analyst firm IDC has predicted that mobile workers will represent more than one quarter of the world's population by 2009. In a study commissioned by Cisco in September 2007, Sam Alkharrat, managing director of Cisco in the Gulf and Pakistan, says, "In the Middle East and Africa, where mobile penetration exceeds fixed line penetration, there is a fertile environment for leapfrogging of legacy technologies and introducing mobile working practices.

The evolution of broadband devices, technologies and services, as well as the growing number of mobile technologies supporting personal communication, has further urged businesses to embrace mobile working policies."

Connectivity options, full office tools, and a variety of business applications available in the Nokia E90 communicator allow the user to conduct their business from practically anywhere, at any time. "This handset allows for a 'mobile office' experience. The device combines all the latest technologies to bring business necessities and personal amenities to the hands of people independent of time and place. Fast and inexpensive connections over WLAN and HSDPA-enhanced 3G accelerate the mobile use of data and transmission-rich applications," says Joe Devassy, Sales Manager — Business Mobility, MENA & SSA, Nokia.

The Nokia Eseries also supports push email. Push email is used to describe email systems that provide an 'always-on' capability, in which new email is instantly and actively transferred as it arrives to the user.

The Nokia E90 Communicator, E65, E61i and the new E51 support the most popular email and business solutions, use the quadband GSM and 3G network frequencies and provide fast broadband data connectivity with 3 GSM WCDMA and WLA. "In addition, the Nokia E90 communicator is high speed download packet access (HSDPA) enabled and can reach data transfer speeds comparable to those traditionally achieved only in the office. The S60 also has high speed, processing power, apart from a high-resolution screen," says Devassy.

Nokia Intellisync DM solution is positioned as a broad-based one that supports a wide range of device types and platforms, including symbianOS, pocketPC, palmOS, and desktop and laptop PCs. The solution is strong on software distribution, security and policy management, and reporting and troubleshooting.

"Administrators are able to wirelessly take control of a device and visually see the screen of the device. Helpdesk users are able to access these devices, as if they are actually holding them, for troubleshooting, initial provisioning, upgrades, and training purposes. Initially, the remote control feature supports Windows mobile devices, with symbian support to follow in future releases. Remote control is offered as part of a Nokia intellisync device management license," says Devassy.

In the UAE, Nokia and du are offering the Nokia intellisync wireless e-mail to consumer and business customers. The service is aimed at providing secure, easy to set up push e-mail and PIM (personal information management) functionalities for users.

"Nokia intellisync wireless email is part of Nokia intellisync mobile suite that provides access to tools such as email, contacts, calendar, device management and synchronisation of file and data and enterprise applications. Nokia intellisync wireless email works in any groupware environment — ISP, Microsoft exchange, lotus notes or groupwise and can run on any kind of device platform — symbian, windows, palm or pocket PC. The highly scalable email solution supports more than 100 different devices in addition to the Nokia portfolio of business devices.

This means that companies don't need to purchase new handhelds but can utilise existing compatible ones, and apply their own security procedures. Nokia intellisync device management — one of the core components of Nokia intellisync mobile suite — will be an additional tool, offering multiple encryption, user authentication, apart from theft and loss protection options. du intends to add device management to the platform this year," says Devassy.