Business intelligence (BI) software vendor Actuate announced plans recently to make BI data available to its customers right on their mobile phones. While most companies are scrambling to jump on the iPhone bandwagon, Actuate hasn't forgotten that plenty of businesspeople still use BlackBerrys and, yes, even Palm devices.

Actuate has partnered with Webalo to deliver e.spreadsheet and BIRT data to mobile devices via the Webalo Mobile Dashboard. Actuate customers who previously have been able to only access data in-house can now use their BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, Palm, Symbian, or any Java-enabled smartphone to find out what they need to know when they're on the road.

Nobby Akiha, Actuate's senior vice president of marketing, says, "The partnership was in response to both what we are seeing a need for in the market right now and anticipation of stronger demand for mobile access into the future. Our relationship with Webalo began over 3 years ago, when both companies anticipated the needs of an increasingly mobile workforce for information on devices used away from the office. More recently, we have seen increasing customer demand for mobile access to information, hence we are strengthening our relationship further with Actuate now reselling Webalo's Mobile Dashboard appliance as part of the Actuate Mobile solution."

Fear not, iPhone and Android users. New clients are under development for your smartphones too, and will be available after the first of the year.

From an IT standpoint, deploying Webalo's Mobile Dashboard is a snap. "It requires a standard rack mount with power and a network connection and with the supplied user name and password and is very much then plug-and-play, removing the need for complex software installation or operating system configuration," says Akiha.

Maintenance and version upgrades are done quickly and easily over the network.

With rumors that the debut of new MacBooks are just around the corner, and some laptop companies reporting record sales numbers, it's easy to assume that portable computers are what business people want most. These days, however, smartphones equipped with Internet capabilities and useful enterprise apps like Mobile Dashboard mean business travelers can leave their computers back at the office -- an option many are choosing.

Which would you prefer to travel with? A smartphone that doubles as a PC, or a separate phone and computer set-up?