IBM is introducing a new service offering designed to help customers deploy mobile technologies, and is also releasing software that makes it easier to monitor business activities and access mainframe applications on a smartphone.

IBM's Rational Host Access Transformation Services (HATS), a previously available product that lets developers create web services out of mainframe applications, is now optimised for mobile devices. This allows mobile users to access mainframe applications from a phone, PDA or other device in a secure manner. "For example, an insurance adjuster can access claim details while on the road, when previously this data resided in a terminal-based application," IBM said in a press release Friday.

IBM has also optimised WebSphere Business Monitor software for mobile devices, letting users view real-time business information on customisable dashboards. WebSphere Business Monitor is available immediately for BlackBerry devices and will roll out on the iPhone in the fourth quarter of 2008.

IBM itself has a highly mobile workforce, with more than 40 percent of employees working remotely from home, customer locations, or on the road, says John Dunderdale, IBM's vice president of sales for Lotus. Big Blue is tapping its mobile expertise for the new services offering, called [email protected], to help employers plan a mobile rollout and deploy software from IBM and partners.

"We're bringing forward a concerted effort to heighten the focus on the mobility capability that exists [at IBM] today ... to let customers access data and applications from the growing number of mobile devices," Dunderdale says.

The services, consisting of both consulting and analytical software, will help customers identify what mobile technologies make sense for them and help them through the entire deployment process. While it's mostly focused on deploying IBM and partner technologies, if necessary IBM would help customers develop their own custom software, Dunderdale says. IBM has previously released mobile business intelligence tools stemming from its acquisition of Cognos.

IBM also announced an expanded partnership with AT&T and Sprint to improve mobile email access for customers of IBM Lotus Notes and Domino software. The wireless companies have certified Lotus Notes Traveler for use with various smartphones, allowing easy access to email, calendaring and personal information management data, IBM says.