I've been giving examples for what seems like years now, of the products and services that enterprise customers are going to want and need when they are truly mobile. I say something like, "Imagine what will happen when corporations realize how important it is for their workforce to have mobile phones, and how much they will benefit from those people have access 24/7 to their back end infrastructure via mobile data services."
Then invariably, I get a response like, "Corporations won't buy mobile phones for everyone. I can see a few execs having them, but who else would need them?" Always. Like clockwork. A few months ago I was seen as some radical guy because I suggested that Yahoo give everyone a data-connected mobile phone (I'm still working on that). But now time has started to show that this how things are going to be.
Ford has announced that 8,000 employees are getting rid of their desktop phones and are going mobile only. Ford's a huge company, this may indeed be only the execs of the company. But what it shows is that corps are starting to take mobility seriously and realizing that the landlines are getting used less and less by almost everyone. When you want to reach someone during the day, do you bother calling their desk phone any more? Naah. You call their mobile so if they're away you can reach them instantly.
Now, I'll be the first admit that the reason that Ford is giving all these employees phones is for the voice services. However, they've just given out little programmable computers with wireless data access and SSL support to all these people. They'd be morons if they weren't thinking about enabling some sort of PIM functionality, like access to their work email, calendaring and contacts. Even via plain-ol-web pages. Then after that first step, it becomes a no brainer to add access to custom internal intranet apps or CRM type apps as well. Soon their employees will be empowered (or enslaved, depending on your attitude about these sorts of things) to do business 24/7, anywhere they go. It's great that Ford did this, hopefully this will be an example by everyone here in the U.S. and we'll start seeing more of these types of announcements.
And of course back to my conspiracy theories. I've been ranting about Microsoft taking over the smart phone market "through the back door" so to speak, by going directly to corporations. It's a good thing that this deal is with Sprint - because I could easily imagine that all those employees if they were on another carrier would be using Microsoft devices, because of the integrated access to Exchange and syncing to their PCs, etc. The next big deal we see is going to be along these lines, I'm sure. Watch for it.