You know the hype Wireless will change everything. And you know it's not true. So we went looking for the here and now of wireless technology. What works and what doesn't. Where the potholes are. The risks.
The truth is, wireless applications can be useful, but there are limits. As our overview shows, the era of the wired Web may be just around the corner, but there are still plenty of obstacles to be surmounted before m-commerce's vast potential is fulfilled in Australia. Analysts may predict that the number of mobile data users will increase from 34,000 to 200,000 by 2005, but before this can happen operators must first address a range of consumer frustrations, such as slow transmission speeds, confusing interfaces and high costs.
Security concerns, meanwhile, are also hampering the take-off of m-commerce. Whether you're talking about B2B, B2C, or simply allowing executives to send e-mail from their handhelds, organisations will have to master a variety of security and privacy issues before they'll see any business benefits from the coming wireless explosion.
Or should we say the first wave of the wireless explosion, for there can be little doubt that imminent improvements in voice recognition technology will radically alter the wireless landscape. As experts from FrontRange Solutions, Accenture and Deloitte assert in Talk To Me, the sooner we can speak to our wireless devices the sooner we'll be able to do away with clumsy user interfaces, the tedium of capturing information by hand and other current impediments to m-commerce.
However such technological advances will be long in coming, and smart companies are embarking upon a wireless strategy today. One thing all analysts agree on is that m-commerce business models are still evolving, and it's important for Australian companies to recognise that this evolution is happening on a global scale, offering our fledgling market several examples which can help organisations identify growing areas of customer demand, set price points and generally plot a safe course through the m-commerce minefield.
However, while now might be the time to develop an m-commerce strategy, the importance of viewing m-commerce in conjunction with e-commerce and other e-business strategies cannot be overlooked. M-commerce involves much more than merely selling things. A sound m-commerce strategy is also about changing and controlling your relationship with the customer, and as such must be built around communication and information.
Similarly, the great number of competing wireless standards, such as I-Mode, CDMA and WAP, places high demands on companies to create a flexible infrastructure for their m-commerce strategy - one that is robust and secure enough to meet user expectations, but also allows for seamless migration to new technologies which are sure to come down the line, such as location-based and proximity-enabled applications.
The wisdom gained from the early adopters and analysts CIO has interviewed throughout these pages shouldn't surprise you: Start small. Learn. Measure the risks. Ensure there's a business benefit. Then go.
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