Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Vendors Ease Mobile Device Data Interchange

TechNewsWorld writes about the growing importance of data syncronization as "businesspeople and consumers are becoming more reliant on handheld devices for the obvious conveniences they offer.

Jack Gold at J. Gold Associates said, "We are starting to see users do more with their handheld devices than simply check e-mail. Increasingly, these products support mission-critical activities, such as exchanging sales information with ERP (enterprise resource planning) applications."

The article looks at the challenges of getting mobile devices to "exchange data with other systems," and notes "there is now growing sentiment in favor of a standard approach to data interchanges." David Via at Ferris Research said, "The need for a data synchronization standard is becoming clearer as users work with complex mobile media, such as video clips."

Several enabling factors are helping the proces, such as more powerful devices, bigger, sharper screens, more memory and faster data networks. Gold said, "Companies are discovering that providing their executives with handheld systems can be more helpful than buying them laptops. About one quarter of executives now use handhelds, and our research expects that percentage to increase to more than half of all business executives in two to three years."

The article looks at some of the data challenges and the efforts the mobile industry is taking to address them, such as Microsoft's ActiveSync, Palm's HotSync and RIM's Blackberry Connect. Via noted that "Typically, the protocols work only with the vendor's systems but not with any other device."

This is why some are "working on a standard data interchange language, dubbed Synchronizations Messaging Language (SyncML). The Open Mobile Alliance, a group formed in the summer of 2002, has been charged with developing this standard. The ad hoc consortium has become the gathering place for development of all important mobile device standards."

The SyncML standard is gaining traction, but "it still needs to clear more hurdles." Via concluded, "Long term, suppliers are expected to abandon their proprietary data synchronization options for SyncML, but it could take a couple of years before users will be able to make that transition."