MTN Business has launched a set of enterprise applications for the smartphone platform, aimed at keeping mobile workers connected to the data centre even when they’re out in the field.

Andy Anderson, senior manager: business mobility at MTN Business,  points out that the smartphone is expected to enjoy an 80% penetration among South African users by 2014. And, although there are few figures available for the tablet market, these devices are also rapidly moving into the corporate world.

“We saw an opportunity for enterprise applications to be used to connect all the employees in a business, all the time,” he says. “We want to allow field workers to have free access to the back-end systems while there are out; and allow them access to relevant data when they need it.

“It allows employees to move from informed to empowered.”

With an initial 20 applications launched this morning, MTN Business has targeted both general office productivity and connectivity needs as well as vertical market segments like healthcare, financial services, transport and logistics.

The apps can be used by a variety of organisations, from state-owned enterprise to SMEs.

MTN Business’s Victor Rakhale, explains that the new direction allows MTN to move beyond supplying just the infrastructure, but now adds value for its users.

“MTN Business is not just about bandwidth or data,” he says. “Our goal is to provide ICT solutions that are core to all business and connectivity needs.”

MTN Business also provides consulting and integration services for its customers, helping them to define what mobile applications are relevant for their businesses, and helping to integrate them into the corporate back-end.

Companies today are focusing on four key trends, says chief technology officer Kanagaratnam Lambotharan. These are mobility, cloud computing, social networking and collaboration, and data analytics.

“We are helping to bring these four elements together and adding a level of efficiency and productivity to organisations.”