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Mobile commerce is defined as e-commerce done in a wireless environment. Mobile commerce can be applied to both B2B and B2C business activities. While mobile commerce is interested in attracting consumers to use wireless devices to make purchases, mobile business is attracting other business organizations to visit and purchase materials, products, and services. Products and services of mobile commerce range from commodities to complex services, such as stock trading, traffic reports, and wireless games. Whereas, mobile business is also intended to utilize information technologies, including mobile devices, in order to streamline their business processes among corporations and reduce transaction costs.
After interviewing 141 companies, Caldwell and Koch (2000) reported that companies implemented mobile computing to achieve four purposes: (1) improve customer service; (2) reduce cycle time and speed decision making; (3) attract and maintain a high-quality workforce; and (4) manage organizational knowledge and exchange best practices.
Major B2B mobile commerce applications include financial applications (banking, payments, etc.), managing inventory (goods, troops, and people), wireless data management, wireless reengineering, etc. (Barshney & Vetter, 2001). M- commerce is characterized by mobility (portability) using mobile devices, broad reach, convenience, ubiquity, and other attributes. M-commerce is built on the mobile computing infrastructure of mobile networks, software, and hardware. Readers are referred to Chapter 10 of Turban and others (Turban, King, Lee, & Viehland, 2004) for the introduction to mobile commerce, including the technologies that support m-commerce. See Balasubramanian, Peterson, and Jarvenpaa (2002) for the implications of m-commerce for markets and marketing by means of a formal conceptualization of m-commerce.
M-commerce can be characterized by mobility and broad reach. Customers, anywhere and anytime, do not have to stay in a location to be connected to corporate databases. Mercedes-Benz has utilized mobile computing to control its inventory and manage orders. Mobile computing can also be used to track the status of products and materials on delivery, and financial trading costs among business organizations will be dramatically decreased by removing intermediaries from the value chain. Along with the Internet, new technologies like C/ Webtop provide collaborative working platforms that allow users to collaborate efficiently while on the move (Bergenti, Poggi, & Somacher, 2002). To keep its workforce connected, for instance, TRW is implementing the idea that any TRW employee is able to access any information at any time with 250 locations in 35 countries (Sherman, 2002).
Visa International is expanding e-payment technology through mobile phones in Thailand, following its successful debut in South Korea and Japan. More than a third of mobile Net subscribers in Japan have already used their phones to buy goods. A challenge is for telecom operators to integrate wireless network and infrastructure with banks’ payment systems in order to link the same protocol and applications (Phoosuphanusorn, 2003).
Mobile devices, such as portable PCs, PDAs, and cellular phones, are among the fastest growing commodities in the world. These wireless machines are also called “thin client,” which is a low-cost, centrally managed computer including CD-ROM players, diskette drives, and expansion slots. Because the Internet has the power to connect these thin clients (regardless of time and place) to corporate databases, customers and employees are now able to utilize mobile computing for the purposes of their own businesses. In addition, because these mobile devices need to display colorful information along with sound and motion pictures, multimedia platforms are important supporting tools for mobile computing.
The attributes of m-business are ubiquitous, convenient, and instant. Ubiquity can be achieved by m-business that connects computing devices that are not merely personal computers but are also very tiny devices in the environment. Devices might be invisible so that they are either mobile or embedded in almost any type of object, such as walls, cars, clothing, goods, and the like. These devices are inherently convenient so that customers and employees connected to these devices do not even realize that they are using computers.
Instant connectivity is also provided by the business owners. Personalization and localization are other important attributes of m-business. M-business servers can provide each of their customers with a customized screen, options, and price. Personalization is based on the customer’s previous purchases, preferences, and personal records. Localization of products and services can be achieved by m- business using GPS. Customers are allowed to access and update their personal information through mobile devices. For example, a customer might access his or her bank account and make an electronic transfer to someone else’s account. When the customer requests a service, the transaction server first checks the customer’s identification and password with an authentication server. Once authenticated, bank account databases are accessed. Because the customer might no longer be in the same location that he or she first accessed the transaction server, one or more network paths should dynamically be selected to allow the customer to complete the requests made.
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