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IM bots ease access to corporate apps

The need for mobile workers to access vital corporate applications quickly and in real time is growing. Intellisync hopes its new platform fulfills that need with instant messaging.

Let's face it, accessing the company network from a mobile device isn't always easy and it isn't always fast.

With smartphones and handhelds becoming must-haves for every road warrior, the need to stay in touch, and do so quickly and with fluidity, is mounting.

Enter the InfoBOT Platform, which minimizes the limitations of where mobile workers can go to access vital corporate applications from a mobile device by sending an instant message (IM).

The InfoBOT Platform, from San Jose, Calif.-based mobile software vendor Intellisync Corp., is an automated, menu-driven access system that lets mobile works get information with a few keystrokes. A mobile worker enters text into the InfoBOT IM screen, which provides choices to drill down to the desired information. The system automatically reduces time spent browsing through several pages to access specific data. Each application can be assigned a bot buddy, and a click-on that buddy snags the information, such as sales data, pricing and contract data.

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For example, the flight status InfoBOT allows a user to see if a plane is leaving on time. The user clicks flight status InfoBOT buddy, tells it the flight number and receives the status of the flight. All InfoBOTs provide user guidance, so workers don't have to remember additional commands. The InfoBOT prompts them to enter the correct information each time.

"With just one click, you can get that information," said Gaurav Banga, Intellisync's vice president of real-time messaging. "It takes one to two seconds to go and find it. You have real-time access."

InfoBOTs can be saved and reused without having to reenter information. Entering a zip code into the weather InfoBOT will bring up the local weather each day with just a click. The same goes any other data a user would need to retrieve. "You just let the system remember it," Bang said.

Intellisync's InfoBOT Platform comes with three components: The InfoBOT server, device clients for each major mobile platform and a hosted network operations center (NOC) that gathers data to send to the client on behalf of the server.

The software comes with several predefined InfoBOTs that include common business information on-the-go workers will need, such as weather, flight information and access to customer relationship management data, field force data and New InfoBOTs can be easily set up, plugged into the server and made accessible to users.

The server sits behind the corporate firewall and comes with administrative tools and the InfoBOT XML application program interface, which is used to develop new bots. Users download the client to their device and can access any InfoBOTs a system administrator allows. When users launch it, the InfoBOT client on their device gives them a menu of all bots available. The user selects one and follows on-screen instructions. Little training is needed.

For data residing behind the firewall, the InfoBOT client talks to the server, which retrieves information. For information on the Internet, the client talks to the NOC, which relays the information.

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