How one customer said no to Exchange but yes to Outlook and Windows Mobile (part 2)

From Microsoft Subnet editor Julie Bort: Globe Manufacturing, Pittsfield, N.H., has implemented a

Globe Manufacturing
communications strategy that is an affordable about-face from what the typical enterprise does. For instance, Globe loves the oft maligned Windows Mobile as its OS for remote workers. It outfits every road warrior with a Samsung SCH- i760 smart phone running on Windows Mobile 6. (Aside: The Samsung SCH-i760 on Windows Mobile 6.1 is also the favorite of OCS guru and Microsoft Subnet blogger Alex Lewis. )

Windows Mobile has generally been treated like a stinky weed among the enterprise playing field (with the new iPhone considered the apple of the users' eye and the BlackBerry being yummy, thorny and hard working, like its namesake.) But Nick Bonnett, IT specialist at Globe Manufacturing says with the right phone, Windows Mobile is far and away the more affordable and practical choice. The BlackBerry, he says, has a bunch of hidden expenses.

"We shunned away from BlackBerry because of the extra cost in servers. It won't communicate directly to any server, you must place an in-between server -- the BlackBerry Enterprise Server is what they call it -- to transfer all those messages out to the BlackBerry systems," he says.

So that's a yea to Windows Mobile from the same company that said nay to Exchange in favor of Linux-based PostPath, even though it standardized on Outlook. (See Part 1 for details.) Windows Mobile is a winner mostly because the device is a good fit for business use.

"We had a hard time finding a phone that's the perfect mix of a phone and a mini-PC. It seems as if you can't easily find a device that works great as a phone and is also a smart device -- the two don't merge together very well. Some work great as phones, but lack the stuff needed to be the user's smart device," describes Bonnet.

The i760 has been slimmed down for business use. "You don't need an MP3 player to be a business tool. Without that stuff, the device opened up more memory and resources for the apps you really want to run. We have one user running almost 6K contact records in his phone, plus he's got a month's worth of e-mail," he says.

The bonus was, with Windows Mobile, no training was required to teach users how to synch these devices with Outlook or how to use their other MS Office applications. Excel looks like Excel. Word looks like Word. "You might not want to write a dissertation on it, but salespeople can look at spreadsheets coming in from customers, review quotes and specification letters -- they can get pretty detail oriented where the safety garments are concerned -- and make a quick responses to customers, rather than waiting to get back to the office or hotel and the laptop," he says.

The only gotcha is battery life and that was easily solved by upgrading to the monster extended battery. This doesn't earn the phone any prize points for size -- users complain that their phones are bricks. But it does mean that the smart phone can function like a laptop often for more than 24 hours, Bonnett says.

Have you got a story about how you use/don't use Microsoft technologies for your road warriors? Share it with a comment, e-mail me at jbort@nww.com or send me a tweet at microsoftsubnet on Twitter.

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