ROI a Priority at CTIA

Placing high priority on return on investment (ROI) for deploying wireless applications, an IBM executive will unveil a new software tool that gauges just that at the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association (CTIA) Wireless IT and Internet show.

The news is just one of several bits coming from the CTIA conference in Las Vegas this week, where more than 8,000 attendees are expected to flock to occupy their wireless fancies.

Though the conference celebrating wireless technologies kicked off Wednesday, shadows loomed as mobile phone maker Motorola slashed its fourth-quarter sales and earnings projections, citing slow demand for wireless infrastructure, broadband equipment and semiconductors. Motorola said it now expects fourth-quarter profit of 10 cents a share on sales of $7.1 billion. Motorola had previously forecasted profit of 14 cents a share on sales of $7.5 billion.

Motorola’s news is a continuance of bad news: chipmaking giant Intel foretold the harsh quarterly climate Tuesday, reporting earnings of 10 cents per share — 3 cents less than analysts expected during its third quarter.

Strategies and software

Despite the foreboding news, the show must go on, and it will for CTIA presenters, exhibitors and attendees. Adel Al-Saleh, general manager in IBM’s Wireless E-business, will demonstrate the Wireless ROI Predictor in a keynote Wednesday.

The ROI tool IBM’s Al-Saleh plans to introduce covers a wide range of application types, including those for
field force automation, sales force automation, e-business to smart machines
and wireless local area networks (WLANs). The tool calculates the amount of
time the customer can expect to get back the initial project investment
based on the size and the scope of the wireless product. The tool also
assesses benefits such as increased worker productivity or reduced costs.

Al-Saleh told that his firm conducted research and
found that more than 80 percent of customers surveyed said ROI as the
greatest barrier to entry in deploying wireless products — an even greater
obstacle than security and reliability.

“What we’re really trying to get across as a theme is that it’s all about
business,” Al-Saleh explained. “There is a lot of hype in wireless about
consumer apps. People are wondering what is the killer app, what is the next
best thing? But we look at it from a business perspective. This is about

“This is something we came up with two years ago, but we decided not to
announce it until we could have the customer experience it,” Al-Saleh said.
“In this economy, nobody can afford to spend hundreds of thousands or
millions of dollars on these applications without knowing that there will be
a return on investment.”

Al-Saleh will be joined by Air Canada Senior IT Director Bob Eardley, who
will announce that Air Canada and IBM have developed one of the very systems
that the ROI Predictor was created to gauge — a wireless “e-Toolbox” system
that facilitates aircraft maintenance by providing line mechanics wireless
access to electronic documents.

Ideally, a mechanic would employ a wearable computer to access a customized
Web portal, putting maintenance data such as troubleshooting tips and plane
parts availability at their fingertips while they’re working on the plane.

Al-Saleh is hardly the lone executive lauding wireless application strategies this week at CTIA.

Jacob Christfort, vice president of product development for the Mobile Products and Services Division of Oracle, will also deliver a keynote on how companies, service providers and carriers can meet the challenge of bringing wireless into the enterprise, despite a fragmented environment of network infrastructure and device requirements.

Oracle’s Christfort will team with Alan Young, vice president of emerging technology for Citigroup, to discuss the benefits of a complete infrastructure for wireless, as well as Citigroup’s use of the Oracle9i Application Server to create wireless banking services.

Devices and deals

Championing the device side at CTIA is Research in Motion, which will unveil two new handhelds, the BlackBerry 6710 and BlackBerry 6720. Each two-way wireless device offers e-mail, phone, SMS, browser and organizer.

The BlackBerry 6710 is a world-band handheld supporting operation on GSM/GPRS networks in North America, Europe and Asia Pacific at 900/1900 MHz frequencies, while the BlackBerry 6720 is a dual-band handheld operating on GSM/GPRS networks of 900/1800 MHz frequencies. The 6720 allows corporate users to travel in Europe and Asia Pacific with one handheld.

Not be outdone by RIM’s new gadgets, Kyocera Wireless pulled back the curtain on its newest handset, the Kyocera 3225. With the 3225, customers may exercise such features as Qualcomm’s BREW operating system and FunLights surrounding the phone’s display. It also comes equipped with Assisted Global Positioning System (AGPS) position-location technology and CDMA 2000 1X technology, with data speeds up to 153 kbps.

Meanwhile, wireless deals of different persuasions abound, as Gateway joined forces with Verizon Wireless to jointly promote wireless wide area network (WWAN) data solutions for the enterprise.

Additionally, a CTIA conference wouldn’t be the same without news from handheld bellwether Palm, and the firm didn’t fail. Palm said it has embedded content management software maker Stellent’s Outside In Wireless Export technology in its new Tungsten Mobile Information Management (MIM) software.

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