Mobile Computing Outlook For 2001
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.