E-mail is no way to run a cafe. Au Bon Pain VP of IT Randy Burkhart knew that on weekends, \n\nmanagers were logging in to e-mail multiple times, checking for potential issues at their \n\nstores. Even the BlackBerry was too slow to let them respond to problems quickly.\n\nBut a couple of years ago, Burkhart noticed that smartphones were becoming powerful \n\ncomputers in their own right. So 18 months ago he started deploying corporate applications \n\non Windows \n\nMobile cell phones, such as a daily profit-and-loss report and alerts that inform \n\nmanagers about staffing or supply shortages. The initial application was deployed in six \n\nweeks. Managers can pick between Motorola Q and Treo phones.\n\nThe result has been a quicker response time for all kinds of problems. When an Au Bon Pain \n\ncatering van ran into a customer's car in a parking lot recently, the company's area \n\ndirector didn't need to e-mail someone and then wait around. He used his phone to take \n\npictures of the accident and report it to the people who would have to handle it.\n"There is a time value to information," Burkhart says, and smartphones let \n\nhis company get more value for their time.\n\nAu Bon Pain is not alone. Companies that got their feet wet on wireless e-mail with the \n\nBlackBerry are primed to move other applications onto smartphones, says Andy Seybold, a \n\nveteran wireless consultant. Improvements to smartphones themselves (more memory, better \n\nprocessors) and to wireless networks (they're faster) make such projects more viable, even \n\nfor small companies. Research company Frost & Sullivan predicts that mobile phone use for \n\nfield-service applications will increase from 1.5 million subscribers this year to 11 \n\nmillion in 2013.\n\nBut obstacles remain. For example, wireless carriers aren't used to selling enterprise \n\nsystems to companies because enterprises require different types of support than carriers \n\nare set up to deliver. Companies are better at getting data into and out of their core \n\napplications than providing mobile access to that data. Nevertheless, data integration with \n\nenterprise systems poses barriers. Phones have vastly different capabilities and user \n\ninterfaces. "There's a continuous stream of devices," says Terry Stepien, president of \n\nSybase's iAnywhere, which helps companies make applications work better for remote and \n\nmobile workers.\n\n"Some will have keyboards, some won't. Some will have GPS, some won't.They'll have different \n\noperating systems. It's a heterogeneous world and it looks like it's going to stay that \n\nway."\n\nCompanies can try to build their own interfaces to extend applications \n\nto mobile phones. They can use a variety of middleware platforms, such as the \n\niAnywhere's Information Anywhere suite, or they can turn to mobile-oriented integrators to \n\ndo the job.\n\nWireless Three Ways\n\nAu Bon Pain went the integrator route. It got help from Enterprise Mobile, which is backed \n\nby Microsoft and works primarily with companies using Windows Mobile. Its main work is \n\nshepherding companies through the quirks of the cell phone market, such as helping them \n\nchoose from idiosyncratic cell phone plans.\n\nEnterprise Mobile helped Burkhart with security and user-interface questions, like what to \n\ndo when a phone is lost and how to present data on a 2-inch-by-2-inch screen.\n\nDelta Air Lines, meanwhile, used iAnywhere's Information Anywhere suite, which includes the \n\nAfaria mobile management tool and Onebridge development environment and middleware products, \n\nto develop a way for its field operations workers to use handhelds, instead of \n\nnetwork-attached PCs to check their e-mail or update service tickets.\n\nThe tools, deployed in late 2007, let Delta's field-service workers exchange data directly \n\nwith the company's back-end servers, using Motorola mc35 Windows Mobile handhelds, says Rich \n\nMeurer, advisory engineer at Delta.\n\nIn a different project, Delta added a mobile application for baggage tracking this year, \n\nusing Motorola m9090 handhelds, which use a different version of Windows Mobile.\n\nWhere as iAnywhere's tools are geared toward developers who are writing specific \n\napplications from scratch, Vaultus\u2014which is used by Genzyme\u2014has developed a \n\nseries of templates that an IT department can customize. Other mobile middleware providers \n\ntake different approaches: For example, Vettro specialized in putting hosted applications on \n\nmobile phones, and Syclo is focused on manufacturing apps.\n\nGenzyme chose Vaultus when it decided to bring its European sales representatives online. \n\nThe company was already using the BlackBerry and was looking to them to provide its sales \n\nrepresentatives in Europe with e-mail. Executives decided to make Genzyme's customer \n\nrelationship management system (Sage Saleslogix by Sage Software) available on the devices \n\nas well, says Seppo Beumers, application manager at Genzyme in Naarden, the Netherlands.\nThe sales representatives typically work as field advisers. They need to make notes on \n\nquestions and requests for follow-up and then put those into a CRM system. But they \n\ntypically don't have enough time with a doctor to use their notebook computers.\n\nWhile Vaultus says a typical installation takes between three and six weeks and costs from \n\n$20,000 to $200,000, it took Genzyme about 10 months to deploy the application. The company \n\nspent about half a million euros, including the cost of about 200 BlackBerrys.\n\nBeumers said the extra time was needed to translate documentation and training materials and \n\nfind time to train the sales representatives.\n\nThe company got a return on its investment in about 18 months, based on time saved by sales \n\nrepresentatives. Now Genzyme in Europe is looking at using Vaultus to add more applications \n\nto the mobile phones, probably starting with corporate reporting tools.\nSays Genzyme's Beumers, "I'm thinking that these mobile devices will be more important than \n\nyour laptop."