December 6, 2004
By Galen Gruman, editorial director, IT Wireless
A free newsletter to all IT Wireless subscribers.


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NOTE FROM THE EDITOR:

Due to the Christmas and New Year's holidays, IT Wireless will not publish the IT Wireless Market Scan newsletter on Dec. 20 or the IT Wireless Insider newsletter on Jan. 3. Publication will resume on Jan. 10 with the IT Wireless Market Scan newsletter. Enjoy your holidays!

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Lanmark Speeds Property Management with Wireless

Property management firms have an inherently mobile workforce that have trouble staying in touch with changed demands and schedules out on the road. Yet both customer service and efficiency would improve if they could stay connected and send and receive information electronically, rather than rely on delivering or faxing paper records for transcription at the end of the day and on phone calls during the day to get status and other updates.

To address these issues, Lanmark Property Advisors, which serves primarily the Midwest but is expanding nationally, has turned to wireless technology. Using an application platform developed by Adesso Systems and the cellular data service provided by T-Mobile, Lanmark's field staff can now fill in property reports on a Hewlett-Packard iPaq H6315 PDA/phone, updating the corporate database in real time. Beyond the real-time advantage, the system allows more information to be captured, notes David Schwartz, Lanmark's director of management services. About 25 facility managers are now using the devices, and Schwartz expects that to grow beyond 100 users in the next year. Applications include repair tickets and property inspection, and the company is creating other modules, as well as considering bringing the technology to its leasing brokers.

Lanmark chose the Adesso platform because it supports a variety of Windows-based devices, including PCs, tablets, laptops, and handhelds. It chose T-Mobile as the carrier because T-Mobile didn't require Lanmark to get a separate voice account for every field agent; instead, the company got one voice account and has the agents share the data service, lowering overall communications costs. Lanmark is also hoping to expand outside the U.S., so it wanted a GSM-based carrier to support that.

"We knew were going to be limited by the speed of the transmission," Schwartz says, so the Adesso software transmits only changed information on the relatively slow GPRS cellular network. "We'd like to be able to transmit larger spreadsheet documents and photos, and down the road the higher-speed networks [like EDGE and HSPDA] will become available and we'll be interested in that." As an interim approach, Lanmark wanted to take advantage of T-Mobile's Wi-Fi hot-spot network, so field agents could do more data-intensive transmission from a Starbucks café or similar location. That's one reason it chose the dual-mode cellular/Wi-Fi iPaq 3615, but Schwartz says that the T-Mobile software that's supposed to switch users from cellular to Wi-Fi does not work. Lanmark and Adesso have been working with the carrier to resolve the issue, which at press time remained unfixed.

Despite the Wi-Fi glitch, "the response from the staff is overwhelmingly positive," Schwartz says. "They're spending less time doing paperwork and administrative overhead." At headquarters, staff also saves significant time. It used to take a half day to work through the paper records to see how many repair tickets a repair technician had open, but now it takes about five minutes, he says. Plus supervisors can now redeploy technicians as needed, based on their completion status and any unexpected urgent issues.

Got deployment experience and lessons to share? Let us know at news@it-wireless.com.


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