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Getting Connected with Wireless ASPs

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Connecting with anyone, anywhere is what many industry watchers see as the next major innovation to sweep the Internet arena. The fact is that wireless applications are getting the greatest interest in those areas where mobility is greatest: sales force automation and customer relationship management.

What exactly is a wireless ASP? By definition, ASPs deliver a service to customers around the deployment and management of applications. According to many industry pundits, ASPs provide a contractual service offering to deploy, host, manage, and provide access to an application from a facility other than the customer's site. Based on this definition, wireless ASPs are delivering applications to wireless devices using a wireless network to transfer data.

The promise of being able to create a mobile e-commerce strategy (or m-commerce for short) has been heralded as the next major growth trend in the world of wireless initiatives. The fact that many ASPs are lining up to build their case as a significant participant in the wireless industry is entirely expected, given the amount of focus this entire arena is getting from the business and industry press. Critical to the growth of this marketplace are the development of wireless applications and the capability of ASPs to overcome the objections that companies voice about using ASPs in general, and wireless ASPs specifically.

Despite these shortcomings, the marketplace for wireless ASPs is expected to grow very quickly throughout the coming five years, with the majority of growth in the personal applications ASP arena.

Wireless Applications Expected to Abound

The core value of wireless applications is anytime, anywhere access. As one might guess, email is expected to top the list of expected applications. Both the wireless and traditional ASP end-user studies completed by the ASP Industry Consortium reveal an inclination toward collaborative and sales applications.

Expected Wireless Applications by Industry

Across all industries, email is the application most expected to be available via a wireless solution. Unified messaging, customer service and support, and sales force automation are considered in the top spots across all industries. Highlights of industry-specific adoption, as defined by recent conversations with executives at USinternetworking, Corio, and Qwest yielded these insights:


From conversations with companies in this vertical marketplace, it seems they appeared more optimistic overall about wireless applications, mainly due to their knowledge of wireless' capabilities. The use of IM (Instant Messaging) is driving adoption in this area quickly.

Banking and Financial Services

Many of the executives spoken with over the last six months expect unified messaging to drive demand for wireless ASPs in this marketplace. There are also the pain points of sales force automation in this area as well. These companies seek to extend the power that the Internet has brought to their business and empower their sales force and customers with access anytime, anywhere.

Retail and Wholesale

Like those in the financial services industry, these companies are beginning to show an interest in mobile commerce. No doubt they see wireless devices as being another channel to sell to their customers. Look for companies, including Ironside, Comergent, and others in the traditional sell-side arena, to make the most of WAP-enabled devices in conjunction with the sell-side architectures they provide.

Expected Wireless Applications by Company Size

Overall, large companies had higher expectations about applications available via a wireless solution. This is because Global 2,500 companies typically lead early adopters because their needs are more diverse and more urgent, given the number of customers and products they deal with. This more-optimistic outlook can probably be linked to the greater breadth of resources available to them, such as IT funding. There was a significant difference in expectations between large companies and small companies about applications for customer support, unified messaging, inventory management, and procurement. Additionally, large companies have significantly higher expectations than do both small and midsize companies about industry-specific applications. Large businesses were also more interested than were midsize companies in wireless payroll applications. Notably, small companies had greater expectations than did both midsize and large companies around the availability of wireless accounting and finance applications.

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