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The M-Business Evolution

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Key Applications

Applications for M-Business within the enterprise can be broken into those that affect employees, customers, suppliers, and business partners. This short introduction to wireless applications within the enterprise will serve as a sampling of the subject matter. This matter will be treated in much greater detail throughout the rest of the book, in case studies and in the exploration of applications including business intelligence, customer relationship management, sales force automation, field force automation, and supply chain management.

Analyst surveys in the U.S. and Europe have shown that employees will benefit first from wireless enablement of the enterprise. M-Business applications will be used to increase employee productivity and will be followed by applications that are offered to customers, partners, and suppliers.

Thus, the broad categories of wireless enablement within the enterprise can be listed as follows:

  • Wireless Enablement of Employees (B2E)
  • Wireless Enablement of Customers (B2C)
  • Wireless Enablement of Partners & Suppliers (B2B)

The B2B category includes supply chain management, enterprise resource planning, and electronic marketplaces. The B2E category includes the sales force and field service workers in addition to executives, managers, and office workers.

It is important that a holistic strategy is adopted for these categories of wireless enablement. For example, employees may well need to gain access to the same applications, processes, and information as customers or partners. Additionally, as we shall discover in some of the case studies such as ADC Telecommunications, M-Business initiatives targeted for customers often turn out to be highly desirable for internal employee access as well.

All three of these categories of wireless enablement are briefly discussed in this section with a focus on some of the areas of opportunity and their benefits to the enterprise.

Wireless Enablement of Employees

Wireless enablement for employees is basically about giving employees the access to the information and transactions they need in order to perform their work-related activities. Wireless enablement can take the form of an extension of existing enterprise applications into the wireless domain. Or it can take the form of entirely new applications built from the ground up (either package or custom) specifically for use in a wireless or mobile scenario. These applications can have a profound productivity improvement for employees, the sales force, the field force, and for executives within an enterprise.

The following table (2-5) presents some of the areas of opportunity for wireless enablement of employees and the benefits that may be realized:

Table 2-5  Opportunities and Benefits for Wireless Enablement of Employees
OpportunitiesEnterprise Benefits
  • Basic e-mail
  • SMS text messaging
  • Unified messaging
  • Alerts and notifications
  • Improved employee productivity
  • Improved sales force productivity
  • Improved field force productivity
Personal Information Management (PIM):
  • Calendar
  • Contacts
  • Tasks
  • To-do lists
  • Memos
Delivery of Time-Sensitive and/or Location-Relevant Information
Intranet Access:
  • Company directory
  • Office locations
  • Employee directory
  • Hoteling/room reservations
  • Travel arrangements
  • Time and expenses reporting
  • Company news
Cost Reduction
Internet Access:
  • Company Web site and applications
  • Competitive intelligence
  • News
Reduced Asset Downtime
Sales Force Applications:
  • Customer/account information
  • Product/service information
  • Order entry and quoting
  • Inventory management
  • Pricing information
  • Customer service history
  • Lead/opportunity management
  • Competitive information
  • Sales reporting
  • Training
Reduced Resource Costs (such as phone, fax, printing, mailing)
Field Force Applications:
  • Dispatch
  • Project lists
  • Service histories
  • Inspection forms
  • Proposals
  • Product and part information
  • Order processing
  • Time and expense reporting
  • Training
Revenue Generation:
  • Increased sales
Enterprise Resource Planning ApplicationsKnowledge/Decision Making
Enterprise Dashboard / Business Intelligence Applications:
  • Key performance indicators (KPIs)
  • Alerts and notifications
  • Financial monitoring
  • Operations monitoring
  • Reporting
  • Balanced scorecard reporting
  • Categorized and prioritized content
Improved Executive Reporting and Decision Making
Improved Data Capture and AccuracyDelivery of Time-Sensitive and/or Location-Relevant Information
  • Employee satisfaction
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Customer service
  • Positive cultural effects
 Competitive Advantage:
  • Increased competitive advantage

Wireless Enablement of Customers

Wireless enablement of customers can take many forms: branded cell phones or pagers to increase customer loyalty; access to hotel and airline reservations and information; telematics services for emergency location and assistance; M-Commerce transactions for wireless purchases such as stocks; wireless access to order status information; product and service information via wireless enablement of a corporate Web site; alerts and notifications on items of interest; locationbased services for marketing; unified messaging for customer support; wireless gami

The challenge on the business-to-consumer side for the enterprise is to use wireless technologies and applications in order to deepen the relationship with the customer. This needs to be done while providing applications that are easy-to-use, fulfill a need on the customer end, are actionable or informational, and support the diverse set of devices, networks, and standards in use by consumers and business customers.

Table 26 presents some of the areas of opportunity for wireless enablement of customers and the benefits that may be realized:

Wireless Enablement of Partners and Suppliers

Wireless enablement of partners and suppliers can take on many aspects based upon the role of the partner or supplier. Partners may be resellers, value-added resellers, distributors, wholesalers, suppliers, OEMs, industry associations, and electronic marketplace participants. A taxonomy for the various roles of partners is very much needed if one is not yet in existence. In this section, we take a look at partners in the traditional supply chain and also within electronic marketplaces.

The supply chain can benefit from wireless enablement in almost every process, including purchasing, manufacturing, distribution, and customer service and sales. Mobile technologies have long been used within the supply chain and have typically consisted of bar code scanners for improved data capture and asset management. New devices such as ruggedized handhelds from Symbol supporting both Palm OS and Windows CE operating systems, and additional means of connecivity including wireless LANs and wireless WANs mean that supply chain operations have a full range of alternatives for how, where, and when information is captured and acted upon. Information, goods, and funds flows between partners in the supply chain can now move in real-time versus near real-time or nightly batch operations.

As various industries buy and sell products and services through public or private electronic marketplaces, there is a need for continuous communications with these marketplaces in order to gather pricing information, news and events, order status, bid status, approval requests, and sales histories.

Table 2-6  Opportunities and Benefits for Wireless Enablement of Customers
OpportunitiesEnterprise Benefits
  • E-Mail
  • SMS text messaging
  • Unified messaging
Ability to Enter New Markets
  • Advertising
  • Loyalty/branding
  • Travel reservations
  • Product and service information
  • Alerts and notifications
  • Personal information management (PIM)
  • Location-based services
  • Telematics
  • Wireless gaming
  • Remote monitoring
Ability to Offer New Products and Services
  • M-Commerce
  • Digital wallet
  • Preferences
Increased Revenues
Customer Relationship Management:
  • Advertising
  • Marketing campaigns
  • SFA functionality
  • Order entry
  • Order status
  • Customer service and support
  • FFA functionality
Reduced Costs
 Increased Customer Satisfaction
 Increased Customer Loyalty
 Competitive Advantage

Extending these public or private electronic marketplaces with access via wireless devices can provide a solution to this need for continuous information and transactions. One of the most simple examples is that of being alerted to bidding events such as an outbid notification during an online auction. The time criticality of the auction process means that wireless access to the marketplace is an essential tool for many participants.

The following table (2-7) presents some of the areas of opportunity for wireless enablement of partners and suppliers and the benefits that may be realized:

For more details and examples about M-Business application functionality, scenarios and benefits for the enterprise please see the M-Business Applications and Processes section within Chapter 4, Process Models and Applications for M-Business Agility. This chapter goes into detail on categories such as business intelligence, sales force automation, field force automation, customer relationship management, and supply chain management. Additionally, you can find numerous real-life case studies in Chapter 5, Industry Examples.

Table 2-7  Opportunities and Benefits for Wireless Enablement of Partners and Suppliers
OpportunitiesEnterprise Benefits
Supply Chain Management:
  • Incident reports
  • Instructions and sales orders
  • Just-in-time inventory management
  • Pick orders
  • Delivery and receipt confirmations
  • Logistics tracking
  • Reports and printouts
  • Quality control
  • Vendor performance monitoring
  • Inventory management
  • Warehouse management
  • Asset management
  • Mobile inventory tracking
  • Inspections
  • Proof-of-delivery
  • Alerts and event notification
  • Increased productivity of trading partners
  • Increased employee productivity
  • Improved supplier management and productivity
Electronic MarketplacesRevenue Generation:
  • Improved partnerships
Real-time personalized alerts based on trading events:
  • Order status
  • Collaboration with trading partners
Cost Reduction:
  • Improved quality
  • Reduced inventory
  • Higher service levels
  • Increased customer satisfaction
  • Increased customer loyalty
  • Increased business partner satisfaction
 Knowledge/Decision Making:
  • Improved enterprise latency
  • Actionable information
  • Improved data accuracy
  • Increased velocity, variability and visibility within the supply chain
 Competitive Advantage

Business Agility Lessons

Consumer Market
  • The killer application for wireless Internet consumers varies by country, by culture, and by individual user.
  • Drivers for market adoption include industry convergence, improvements in wireless technology and standards, and cultural and regulatory forces.
  • Barriers to market adoption include business barriers related to business model and revenues, together with technology barriers related to security, product maturity, standards, usability, bandwidth, and cost.
  • Since M-Commerce is still in its infancy, it remains to be seen who the eventual winners will be. The contenders in the battle for the consumer include the wireless carriers, financial services providers, content providers, and retailers.
  • Faced with declining voice revenues, wireless carriers are looking toward value-added data services as a way to increase ARPU and to reduce churn.
Enterprise Market
  • The wireless data market has been ignited by consumers, but it is likely that the eventual winners will be enterprises that leverage the technology within their enterprise to create substantial returns on investment.
  • Carriers moving into the wireless application service provider space will need to form relationships with software companies and systems integrators and smooth internal partnerships in order to become a hit with the enterprise.
  • Business executives should ensure a strong relationship with their IT departments in order to be most successful in their M-Business initiatives.
  • The M-Business value chain is complex and involves more players than the traditional E-Business value chain.
  • M-Business can be applied within the enterprise for employees, customers, suppliers, and business partners. Employees are one of the prime targets for M-Business applications.
  • Enterprise benefits from M-Business include increased productivity, reduced cycle times, reduced costs, increased revenues, increased customer satisfaction and loyalty, competitive advantage, and improved decision-making ability.

This is a sample chapter of Business Agility: Strategies for Gaining Competitive Advantage through Mobile Business Solutions (ISBN: 0-13-066837-0). For the full text, visit http://www.phptr.com

©2001 Pearson Education. All Rights Reserved.

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This article was originally published on August 14, 2002

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