Wireless Technology – A Wave of New Business

At a time when wireless is just about to make its dent on the IT landscape – resellers can move another notch up the value chain by weaving a business model around wireless products and services as part of their business strategy.

Taking advantage of this opportunity involves getting up to speed with one of the hottest trends in technology today – the explosive growth of wireless data services that will soon put the power of Internet commerce into people’s pockets by providing the opportunity to do real-time transactions on the road.

The need is there in the overall Asian region – primarily in the form of a growing mobile workforce implementation in the corporate front & home networking in the SOHO segment and devices are available to serve that need. About 30 million mobile wireless devices are now used on a daily basis in India and sales of digital wireless handsets are expected to grow far faster than sales of personal computers in coming years.

But what can these wireless data devices be used for?

Most of the mobile data applications now on the market are the new consumer applications such as e-mail access or information services such as news updates and stock alerts.

What remains to be developed and deployed is a wide range of business solutions that will make mobile wireless data an everyday tool that mobile employees, partners, customers and suppliers can use to perform real-time transactions online.

“Mobile wireless revolution is round the corner, but there are a few security concerns with the customers. This is the reason why we haven’t seen any big implementation in the wireless arena. However, this is likely to be changed as we experience more and more positive results of this technology,” opines, Devendra Taneja, CEO at PC Solutions. The Delhi based SI is busy placing a team of people which would be dedicated towards implementing wireless solutions for the SOHO and the corporate segment.

In the financial sector, these devices are now ideally poised to change the way people do business. For example, Internet banking has given business and consumer clients the ability to check account balances, review transactions and perform bill payments online, anytime of the day. “Mobility is surely going to be the future. SMB and SOHO to some extent are going to drive the adoption for wireless in India,” informs, Ashish Agarwal, CEO at Triffin Technologies.

Consider the instantaneous value, which can be given to the trade broker/customer who can be alerted on his wireless phone that a particular commodity reaches a pre-set value wherever he is. He can then issue an order to perform a trade using that same wireless phone.

It’s in implementing these business-to-business wireless solutions that resellers and systems integrators have a key role to play. Whereas consumer applications are usually generic products created by large enterprises for mass consumption, business applications tend to be customized to meet each organization’s needs and to fit in with its existing information systems. Here resellers can pitch in with their expertise to offer a bouquet of wireless solutions, adding value to their kitty.

This presents a great opportunity for the resellers and consultants, who already work with the organization on other projects, know the technology it uses and understand its business dynamics. “This is where our existing customers come into play. Ideally a solution provider should first develop and deploy beta sites and prove its worth to the existing customers. In addition to being a solution provider, we are now in a position to deliver consultancy to our clients,” Ashish points out.

Though it’s widely heralded as a revolution, the explosive growth of wireless data may also be seen as an evolution that builds upon the work of moving from legacy information systems to Web-enabled systems that make corporate data more easily accessible and easier to share.

The task of moving from legacy to Web-enabled systems represented an opportunity and a challenge for value-added resellers and other information technology specialists.

For resellers the opportunities in the financial sector are enormous. To begin with there is the added value and revenue potential involved in creating wireless interfaces and adapting existing systems for wireless access. “Financial, healthcare and the logistics are the three sectors that are ideally poised to drive wireless implementation in India. The market is going for an exponential growth and as we move forward we would see more and more solution providers jumping on to this arena,” informed, CV Prakash, Head, Services & Solutions Business Unit at Delhi based Team Computers.

There are even more opportunities to adapt the new wireless data applications to meet each clients specialized business needs. And – most important of all – it is an opportunity for resellers and consultants who have previously specialized in computer hardware and wired networks to break into the new and exciting field of wireless data.

This seems ironic to me as statistics released by multiple sources agree that the people who spend the most on buying things are those from 36 ‘” 65 years old. Reputable and varied sources including MoneyBundle, and the business school at the University of Wisconsin agree in their findings in this regard. Yet so many of the reportedly successful new technological devices (iPhones, iPads, Smart Phones, the iPod and other digital audio players, etc.) all seem to require the nimbleness and visual acuity of younger people.

What are the statistics missing or is it that the older consumers are spending their money buying these devices for younger ones?

Technological devices targeted at the age group with the most money to spend are advertised in specialized places where only the older customers will see them. The AARP magazine is full of them as are many shop-at-home catalogs that come in the mail addressed to older consumers. What’s the secret? People get older and as they do, technology designed to be used by the young becomes less useful and, therefore, less desirable to them.

Ads for hearing aids, chairs that stand a person up and simplified cell phones with no extra functions, wireless volume boosters and really BIG buttons adorn the back pages of Sunday newspaper magazines. Do these items really represent the best technology can offer to those of us who have grown up as it grew up around us and, often, through our own efforts? I suspect not.

Where is the technology that we aging people really could make good use of and would be willing to spend money on ‘” If it were available?

Voice recognition would seem to be a technology worth further developing for older consumers, but it’s application is often limited to simple voice-dialing functions in cell phones or to cheap and by-in-large useless word recognition software now bundled with standard Windows software.

It is not just the aging population or early and late Boomers who cry out for some technological rethinking; Perhaps even some restraint. I work with many young people who find the new devices hard to manage and navigate. Every young person who needs a cell phone, for example, is not adequately dexterous to manage the tiny miniature QWERTY keyboards on the Smart Phones that have been given to them by ”¹…”enlightened’ parents. In fact, the speed of texting has become a competitive sport among many young people leaving those with slower fingers standing in the center of the losers circle.

That can’t be a good thing.

Single or dual-function devices would be preferred by many people, age notwithstanding, to the multi-multi-function devices filling electronics store shelves today. Because technology is more complex, is it automatically better? That question is not intended to be taken rhetorically.

The age of consumers with the most disposable income and the needs and preferences of the overall buying public must always be taken into account by those who develop and market technology. Smaller and more complex is not necessarily to be too quickly equated with progress.