Expanded E-Commerce Management (ECM) Deployment
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by Mitchell Levy
Executive Producer, ECMgt.com
Computer driven e-commerce may be a fixation in the United States, but in the rest of the world, mobile phones are the customer's preferred medium for getting information, conducting financial transactions, and electronically scheduling their affairs. The growth of the Internet and wireless connectivity creates the possibility of accessing applications, information, and commerce from almost anywhere. Wireless commerce is being driven by the move to a completely digital spectrum - the convergence of wireless devices, cell phones, PDAs and with mobile data and Internet services - which is blurring the distinction between computing and telephony.
The sheer size of the opportunity is enormous. The number of Internet-enabled mobile devices will exceed the number of PCs by 2003, with the Gartner Group estimating more than 1 billion mobile devices in use by that date. Yankee Group predicts that by 2004, more than 30% of all wireless users will access the Internet through mobile devices. In Europe, where the magic number of 30% user adoption of cell phones has already been reached, 10% of the adult population will be mobile Internet users. Dollar spend on mobile e-commerce services will rise to over $200 billion in 2005.
Mobile commerce, known as m-commerce, is gradually arriving in the United States, where it trails Europe and Asia by two years. Of the 500 million projected mobile e-commerce customers in 2005, only 22% (100 million) will be in North America; Western Europe and Asia will account for two-thirds of users, and Latin America over one-tenth. Half of all European mobile users will be connected to the Internet by 2001. From a dollars and cents perspective, within three years 10 percent of the world's sales transactions are expected to be done through Internet e-commerce. With experts predicting of one billion Web enabled mobile phones in use by 2002, these devices will be the most common method to reach the Internet - and to conduct e-commerce. M-commerce growth rates are projected to be 100% per year, and by 2003, wireless E-Business market will reach 66 Billion dollars.
Consumer behavior and business customers are rapidly evolving from a wired to a wireless world, which will profoundly impact e-business strategies. The rapid pace of business today requires business critical information regardless of location. Knowledge workers and the Internet generation expect instant access to information.
Mobile e-commerce will work best in areas where it can emphasize the core virtues of wireless networks: convenience, personalization, and location. Driving all this is the idea that putting the Internet in the palm of your hand will give business professionals and consumers alike ever-increasing access to data and information, forcing e-business and web commerce strategists to rethink and redesign their e-business process. The job of organizing, managing and targeting web content for delivery to wireless devices and transactions for different market segments has become much more challenging. Issues include design for mobile touch points, mobile interactive marketing, and different languages. Heavy investments in dynamic content management and configuration tools will be required to meet these needs, including rapid and real-time data mining for direct marketing to a mobile, transactive customer base.
Growth of m-commerce will require alliances among large telecommunications firms, financial services providers, and content providers. Telecommunications providers representing 95% of 100 million subscribers have pledged support for WAP, the Wireless Access Protocol that gives mobile phones access to Web content. The success of m-commerce will hinge on four critical requirements: reliability, availability, performance, and security.
Technology initiatives also include the Wireless Point to Point Network, a high speed WLAN technology allowing companies to create LANs without wires or cables, and the End-to-End Enterprise Wireless Initiative. Motorola created the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG), which includes Nokia, Motorola, Ericsson, and Phone.com, as well as a new alliance with Sun, iPlanet, and Palm Computing. Using Palm OS enabled handhelds as the client, and iPlanet Software on Sun hardware as server, mobile professionals can gain access to corporate applications and data.
Palm Computing, the IPO spin off of US based 3COM, has positioned the Palm device and myriad software programs to access corporate information, including legacy data, through wireless and connected networks. Here mobile data equals mobile commerce for sales force automation, inventory control, and extending to the devices used ubiquitously by Federal Express and UPS. Handset providers Nokia, Ericsson, and Motorola can barely keep up with demand. As mobile service revenues plunge from heated competition, operators including Sonera in Finland and BT Cellnet in the United Kingdom are managing their own portals to retain a bigger chunk of the revenues. In an effort to take on the Palm-dominated PDA market, Microsoft launched its Pocket PC operating system for handheld devices. Meanwhile, Palm itself allied with auto supplier Delphi Automotive Systems to produce technology enabling Palm users to access their devices via voice recognition systems in their cars.
The biggest force in m-commerce is Vodafone AirTouch, which is to the wireless world what MCI WorldCom is to fixed line in the United States. In the "post-PC world", giants such as Microsoft, AOL, Vodafone AirTouch, and handset manufacturers Nokia and Ericsson have partnered with financial services firm MeritaNordbanken (Finnish Swedish Bank) to coordinate wireless financial transactions. VISA International has become a member of the Wireless Application protocol (WAP) forum, where it has helped pioneer SETTM, a transaction technology using SET (Secure Electronic Transaction) for wireless e-commerce.
Consumer services include one-way notification for news, sports, weather, and stock quotes. Typical transactions include credit and debit card payments through cell phones, shopping for music, books, and theatre tickets, and most importantly, stock trading. It is estimated that in 5 years, half of all day stock trades will be conducted from mobile phones. In the United States, Amazon.com has already negotiated with Bell Atlantic Mobile and Sprint PCS to offer site access to wireless customers. Barnesandnoble.com is getting into the burgeoning mobile e-commerce game by expanding their "On the Go" program to lets users shop and search for books, music and software, then locate and contact the closest Barnes & Noble stores.
"On the Go" is free of charge to customers and can be accessed from the Sprint PCS wireless Web. "We see enormous potential for the wireless market, as industry analysts project that the number of Net-enabled wireless devices will surpass the number of PCs connected to the Internet by the year 2003," B&N.com spokesman Carl Rosendorf said.
Mobile marketing is also a very interesting niche - because consumers will personalize their (wireless) portal to receive only the kind of information they want, creating a very powerful driver for one-to-one marketing. Mobile operators can track calling patterns, and with eventual precision in positioning technology, will know where users are any time of the day. Can you envision"instant ice cream discounts" when you’re within a mile of Baskin Robbins?
Given the explosive growth of cell phones worldwide, the push for wireless networks in Europe and Asia, and the keen desire for e-commerce by mobile users, m-commerce is just beginning to take off. Just as many businesses were only beginning to grasp the importance of e-commerce in the new economy, m-commerce adds a whole new twist. Will an existing player become the dominant player in wireless space, or is tomorrow’s leader still below the radar? Likely winners will be alliances of financial firms, (banking), telecommunications, and technology players Ericsson, Motorola, and Nokia.
Players by name
Let me leave you with a few of my favorite quotes this month:
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President, ECnow.com <http://ecnow.com>
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