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Latin American enterprises turn to handheld computers.

Everyone's got them: Peixoto Atacadista, a Sao Paulo company, has equipped its sales force with 1,500 Palm handheld computers. New San, the largest electronics and household appliances company in Argentina, uses Palm's convenient devices to maximize its order-taking process. And HSBC Brasil, a major Brazilian bank, has joined a growing list of companies offering at-home services to their clients via Palm.

Throughout Latin America, Palm's handheld computers are becoming ubiquitous corporate tools. First finding their way into the pockets and briefcases of individual executives, over the years, Palm devices have been increasingly adopted by enterprises and large organizations as indispensable office equipment. Today, Palm's presence in workplaces of all kinds is virtually exploding and is seen in an increasingly varied number of uses.

For instance, Peixoto Atacadista, one of Brazil's largest consumer goods distributors, devised a customer relationship management solution where the sales team can send and receive key information to help increase their performance and boost customer satisfaction. With the help of Sao Paulo-based developer Portway Sistemas, Peixoto Atacadista's system provides customer-specific data on past sales, current orders, financial background, sales goals and available inventory.

"The system allows all the members of the sales team to be connected at any time and in any place," says Marcelo Assumpcao, director of Portway Sistemas. "Besides providing mobility, the Palm IIIx [TM] we chose also provides the sales team with a volume of data they never had before, allowing agents to confirm the client's order and to obtain current information at the time of the sale."

Buenos Aires-based New San found that Palm handheld computers have reduced operating costs and improved efficiency for its 35-person sales team. "Our orders were processed via fax using a handwritten form, which then had to be reentered by a central system operator," says Cesar Calcaterra, business director at New San. "With Palm, all of that changed. Now orders go through, error-free, directly into the company's billing system. Fulfillment time has been reduced significantly, and mistakes made in data collection and shipments have decreased. This not only increased New San's profitability, but the quality of customer service."

HSBC Brasil has been using Palm to connect its best customers with the bank's network of branches in more than 600 municipalities. "Since last August, HSBC clients with any Palm handheld model have been able to access account reports, transfers, investments quickly and securely," says Gianfranco Coppola, Palm's territory manager for Brazil. Information regarding the bank's 1,400 points of service and 3,000 ATMs are also automatically updated on users' handheld computers.

At the enterprise level, Palm computing is becoming as integral to operations as are desktop computers and work stations. Along with pagers, cell phones and network connectivity, Palm devices are increasing the outreach of businesses and improving communications with employees and customers. In fact, IDC, in its most recent study, predicts that handheld devices will outship notebook computers by the end of 2001.

For companies in Latin America, equipping their employees with Palms instead of laptops makes financial sense. It is a better return on investment because handheld devices are much less expensive than full-fledged notebook computers. Security is also an issue. For example, an employee on the street carrying a $3,000 laptop is a more attractive target to criminals than one who discreetly tucks a Palm in his pocket.

The enhanced functionality of wireless connectivity will soon provide Palm users in Latin America with even more versatile, essential handheld computers, enabling them to send and receive data anywhere, anytime, according to Carlos De Vries, regional manager for Palm Latin America and the Caribbean. "Wireless connectivity will mean that 'me-computing' will be available when you want it and need it."

While Palm is already entrenched in the enterprise segment, current usage represents only the tip of the iceberg. In Latin America, companies as diverse as Coca-Cola, Xerox, Volkswagen, Casa Cuervo and L' Oreal have adopted Palm technology into their workforces.

"In countless cases, companies and their employees have embraced this technology," says De Vries. "If you were to go see a Palm enterprise solution being implemented, you would see workers empowered and able to make faster decisions, customers more satisfied and managers realizing what it all means to the bottom line. Then you really begin to understand the power of Palm."
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Copyright 2001, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Latin Trade
Date:Sep 1, 2001
Words:716
Previous Article:Business Solutions.
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