Sybase’s iAnywhere subsidiary drives new mobile strategy

August 9, 2000

Sybase’s iAnywhere subsidiary drives new mobile strategyWireless business group eyes ‘m-health’ nicheDespite analysts’ warnings of impending market saturation, Emeryville, CA-based Sybase has thrown its hat squarely

Sybase’s iAnywhere subsidiary drives new mobile strategy

Wireless business group eyes ‘m-health’ niche

Despite analysts’ warnings of impending market saturation, Emeryville, CA-based Sybase has thrown its hat squarely into the mobile computing ring with the formation of iAnywhere, a wholly owned subsidiary created from Sybase’s Mobile and Embedded Computing Group. MEC’s strong revenue growth—20% year over year in the first quarter of 2000—and Sybase’s position in the mobile database market were motivating factors in Sybase’s decision to go with the rebranding strategy.

Hand in hand with iAnywhere’s m-Business (“m” for “mobile”) focus, Sybase is also working to grow its market share in enterprise portals and vertical markets such as healthcare and financial services. These three growth areas seed mutual opportunities, according to Shirley MacBeth, senior product marketing manager for iAnywhere.

“One key focus for us in iAnywhere has been enabling mobile, vertical solutions,” she said. “Our vision of ‘m-health’ includes taking healthcare data mobile.”

The mobility comes through two core products, SQL Anywhere Studio and the recently introduced iAnywhere Wireless Server. In addition to being a mobile database, SQL Anywhere Studio includes replication and synchronization features. The iAnywhere Wireless Server software allows users to synchronize between multiple kinds of wireless devices and various applications. The server is designed to enable access to information whether the user is connected to the network or not, according to MacBeth.

“Our model is to store some data locally on the device,” she said. “Since we have an ultrasmall database, it fits on small devices—as small as 50K. Users can work on applications while they’re outside of the network and then sync up when they get back in network coverage.”

For healthcare applications, the iAnywhere division works with Sybase’s existing healthcare group and with outside partners. The firm claims more than 500 OEM partners and is following the high-tech business model of forging alliances with applications vendors that will carry its platform to more customers than the firm can reach alone. Current healthcare partners include Biomerica, iScribe, and BeyondNow.

“The future of healthcare is exploding, after so many years of being stagnant,” said Carol Fronduto, healthcare business development manager. “With the onset of the Internet and consumers driving healthcare to embrace the Internet, a lot of changes are being made. With the mobile piece, we can make Sybase’s vision of ‘information anywhere’ happen.”

As added incentive, Sybase has established a $50 million “Innovation Fund.” The company invests $5 million per project for companies developing products that advance emerging technologies. In the healthcare sector, the fund has already backed LogonHealth, a start-up that has developed an Internet-based prescription writing and reference package that enables physicians to send prescriptions and access reference materials and patient information via Palm VIIs (HNN 4/19/00).

“We fund mostly start-ups, but we want to look at innovators who are leaders in different segments of healthcare to help propel them further in their segment,” Fronduto said. “And in return, we want them to invest in using Sybase.”

While Sybase has primarily worked with handheld computing devices, the firm has formed a partnership with Ericsson that uses smart phones as the point for mobile access. The company also sees palmtops and Web-enabled smart phones as great product development opportunities. It is looking at patient monitoring systems as well, according to MacBeth.

In addition to working on products with partners, Sybase also has its own software developers that create custom products for clients. The firm can then take a generic version of a proprietary product to market. For example, the iAnywhere Time Tracker application, a mobile SAP program based on the SAP Time Tracker module, was created by Sybase’s professional services organization at the request of a client.

Year to date, the iAnywhere subsidary provided $41.5 million, or 8.9%, of Sybase’s total revenue. In the second quarter, the division’s revenue accounted for 9.6% of the total company figure.