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Mobile Computing Outlook For 2001

"Year 2000 witnessed greatest resurgence of wireless and mobile computing making it among the hottest technologies of this decade. Technology's promise is as significant as the enormity of its problems.  Will the industry rise to the occasion?  We are seeing a silver lining among the clouds and some light after the tunnel. Let there be no mistake - it will be a gradual process. " - Chander Dhawan, Managing Editor of MobileInfo.Com site

Wireless Internet, mobile commerce and related technologies will continue to occupy major pages of the trade press, expositions, conferences and events in 2001.  This sub-industry within IT industry has not run its course. Nor has another hot technology taken over its place. However, a realistic appraisal of our industry is warranted as we enter 2001.

Philosophically, we are all looking for wireless Nirvana to unfold and come home soon. We want instant gratification from our technology efforts. We want technology to work flawlessly. We want mobile devices that can do the un-natural acts in a mobile world. Spoilt as we are in North America by abundant high-speed wireline networks, we want the same bandwidth in the wireless environment even when we do not need it always especially while driving the car as single passengers as most of the times, we are.

The dangers in over-selling an emerging technology are substantial. There have been many false calls in the last decade about wireless computing. The cellular industry is driven by executives who depend on PR executives more than professional services business men. We are depending on developing products and marketing services based our past experience of cellular technology which is relatively simple - in spite a sophisticated and complex infrastructure that network engineers operate, when you compare it with IT where business processes cover a wide gamut, infrastructure that spans variety of hardware and software and software applications that are hundred times more complex. Moreover, customer expectations are ten fold more demanding. Fortunately, the convergence is coming and we see cash-rich telecommunications industry bringing in experience from the other side of the house. This is a good omen for our industry and users alike.

What can we forecast for 2001 and what advice we can give to vendors and enduser organizations?  Before we do that, let us declare our credentials. While we do cater to the vendors, our primary focus and viewpoint are based on our experiences as consultants and spokespersons for end user organizations who must implement these solutions to improve the productivity of business-to-business processes first and B2B2C processes second..

The Forecast for 2001

  • To borrow Stan Gibson's(e-WeeK) words, wireless Nirvana will come in a piecemeal fashion.

  • Hype and confusion in the market will continue - some saner voices will emerge 

  • Continuing improvement in and increasing delivery of products, solutions, and services for wireless-based mobile computing - remember that these are first (and a few secnd generation generation products with many deficiencies 

  • Increasing investment in 2.5 G and 3G network infrastructure - by far ,the single most important deficiency in wireless computing. Except for pilots and in scattered areas of Japan or Europe, 3G will not be available for some time.

  • By mid 2001, a trend will start towards rationalization in the industry with weak vendors calling it a day. Vendors with innovative and good technology will get absorbed by larger vendors

  • Major professional services companies will dive headlong into this arena

  • There will be more devices than you want - single universal device will not arrive but many devices will have voice and data capability.

  • Mobile commerce will see adoption slowly and gradually with selected applications. Wireless advertising will face concerns from users unless the ads are location-specific and appended to solicited information like coupons attached to Mapquest information.

  • Wireless-ASP model will become increasingly popular method of implementation.

 MobileInfo Advisory

  • Do not allow the deficiencies and gaps in technology infrastructure stop you from experimenting with wireless technology now. Develop a strategic plan for wireless with short-term, mid-term and long term objectives (three scenarios for one year, 3-year and 7 year intervals). Keep your objectives flexible to take advantage of technology as it unfolds.

  • Manage your customers' and end users' expectations - they will ask for going to the moon but promise them a holiday in the nearest resort

  • Use traditional systems design discipline and methodology 

  • Keep in mind security and application integrations issues with the backend as key considerations

  • Design your applications frugally (device and bandwidth considerations) with user in mind  - you can still improve your business processes without multi-media unless it is public safety where transmission of mug shots can save a life or accident data collection application where you can save a trip to the office and provide superior customer service.

  • Let your end users try multiple devices - approach from PDA end for B2B applications and approach from smart phone end from consumer-oriented mobile commerce applications 

  • Do not take your existing web applications and enable them for wireless networks without intelligent transformation. Remember the differences when you operate an application when you are sitting leisurely in front of a desk top and when you are mobile and in a hurry.

  • If you decide to adopt Wireless ASP model, ensure that you can re-evaluate your contract every year. Cost of hosting applications will increase, availability standards will improve and competition will drive prices down.

  • Finally , do not fall for quick and easy solutions from vendors who say that they can transform your applications in days or hours. Even for e-mail, you have to worry about a lot of factors including security, directory issues and so on. Believe in fundamentals - no fuss, no muss. With hard work comes rewards. Through superior design and development come superior solutions.  Wireless computing has not reached the ease of a fax machine - just plug it and it will work.


Related Resources:
Market Outlook
Market Trends
Reports & Presentations
Market Metrics - As Reported in the Press
Interviews with Industry Executives
Mobileinfo.com's  Outlook for 2001


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