The 60-day Wireless Challenge is in full motion, a bid by Octanewave Software Inc. to promote the value of mobile technology to prospective corporate customers.

Under the plan, the Toronto-based company will design at no

cost a custom mobile solution within 60 days, and said customers can walk away from the project if they’re not happy with the outcome.

Octanewave said corporate cynicism towards IT motivated the offer.

“”All of my customers that I talk to, they refer to that as far as saying, ‘Our investments over the last little while have not been that stellar in IT,'”” explained Dan Nelson, director of business development at the firm.

“”Some of them have hit home runs, but I would say that the majority of them are questioning their earlier business cases.””

In particular, he said, software installations related to customer relationship management and enterprise resource planning have failed to deliver promised returns on investment.

Although Nelson said he believes companies aren’t necessarily skeptical about mobile solutions, they are questioning whether they should be early adopters.

He said he usually tells Octanewave’s wireless clients, which include mobile workers in field service, sales, inspection, and asset management, that they can expect a payback on their investment after less than a year or sometimes after six months.

From the start, the 60-day wireless implementation needs “”an internal champion”” who’s an executive within the company endorsing the move to bring in Octanewave to build a wireless solution for a certain part of their business, not the entire process, Nelson said.

Once support has been confirmed, Octanewave maps out a project plan, incuding a needs analysis, which takes about five days, and “”a business requirements definition,””explained Nelson.

It may also need the customer’s help to integrate the mobile solution because “”we can’t do that just looking in. We’ll have to have somebody who understands, say, an AS/400 or who understands a back-end and what type of integration requirements would be needed.

“”This is very non-intrusive . . . and it’s really to give them an opportunity to see how wireless can help them, without spending any money,”” added Nelson.

For instance, a prospective corporate customer can see whether wireless Pocket PCs extending an ERP application to its sales force can make it easier for field reps to input data that goes back to head office, as opposed to returning at the end of the day to fill out paperwork, he said.

Nelson said for a week he’s been surveying companies for interest in the challenge, and has found two candidates. “”It’s a slam-dunk for them. They don’t have to go to management to get any money. I will work with them to show them an ROI,”” which they can then pass on to their board of directors. He would not name the two firms.

Roberta Fox, president and senior partner of Fox Group Consulting, said Octanewave’s decision to secure support for the mobile project within company management “”handles all the politics. That’s probably the most interesting part — is how are they going to sell it to the champions, because the senior execs that I work with are still pretty risk-averse about technology investments.””

Although Fox Group has many enterprise clients that have proposed to increase budget spending next year, “”they’re being real cautious and they’re making us go through hoops to really make a solid plan,”” Fox explained.

She described the company’s approach as “”creative,”” but added she’s still skeptical it can deliver within 60 days.

The wireless offer will run until year-end. It’s unclear how much it will cost the wireless solutions provider to donate its services to building wireless applications.

Comment: info@itbusiness.ca

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