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3G wireless not just for big shots anymore

EV-DO, other advanced mobile-data technologies getting widespread corporate adoption

By , Network World
August 22, 2007 02:28 PM ET

Network World - Adidas has deployed 800 BlackBerries to its salesforce so staff can send and receive e-mail on the go. Now the athletic-wear company is finding new uses for its fleet of mobile devices.

Adidas has written several BlackBerry applications that let its sales staff access customer profiles, check inventory for product availability and get the status of outstanding orders when they’re on sales calls. By putting this real-time information into the hands of its salesforce, Adidas is racking up additional sales.

The salesforce “loves it,” says Tim Oligmueller, salesforce automation manager at Adidas. “When they see a sales opportunity when they’re in a store, they can strike while the opportunity is hot rather than getting back to the customer later after they’ve looked up information at home.”

Called Atlas-to-Go, the BlackBerry 3G application is a handheld version of Adidas’ Atlas order-entry system. Atlas-to-Go took only three days to develop.

“We never did run an ROI because it was so cheap to develop,” Oligmueller says. “We did it with in-house developers, and it took just a few days of work. We’d already invested in the devices, and the programming tools were all free on the BlackBerry Web site.”

Next up for Adidas is to add a feature to the BlackBerry application that will let a salesperson create a custom catalog for a store based on the products purchased.

“We can create a catalog on the fly by putting in the order number,” Oligmueller says. “The application creates a print-ready catalog that the customer can use in the store.”

An increasing number of companies like Adidas are providing high-speed mobile data to employees, pushing up the rate of corporate adoption of Evolution Data Optimized (EV-DO) and other 3G technologies. (EV-DO and Universal Mobile Telecommunications System/High Speed Downlink Packet Access (UMTS/HSDPA) are the current 3G technologies offered in the U.S. CDMA-based carriers Sprint Nextel and Verizon use EV-DO, which allows high-speed data transfer. GSM-based carrier AT&T uses UMTS/HSDPA, which allows simultaneous voice and data transfer over the 3G network.)


Read: The five biggest worries about mobile data


The focus of mobile data rollouts has moved past e-mail and now is centered on such critical business applications as salesforce automation. CIOs are looking at how to create efficiencies in business processes or gain competitive advantage by providing mobile wireless access to network resources.

“Having e-mail so widely deployed out with the sales and marketing folks is now putting demand back into companies for other information,” says Laura Johnson, executive director of enterprise solutions for AT&T’s wireless unit. “Many companies have finished [CRM] projects, so the back-end automation is complete. With the adoption of wireless e-mail to end users, they are extending access to their sales reps. They can enter customer information, enter orders and get inventory updates when they are standing in front of the customer.”

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