Is A Wireless ASP for You?
The bottom line with regard to investigating wireless ASPs is to look at the most pressing pain points in your organization that need assistance in being more responsive. Are you experiencing the majority of your challenges as an organization dealing with distribution channels and keeping your sales force informed? Is the distribution channel you are working with dealing with frustrations over lack of information? One of the best approaches for getting information directly to the channel is to couple any wireless efforts of an ASP with the broader e-commerce objectives your company has. The likes of Comergent, Entigo, NetVendor, and Ironside are all companies that have platforms that can scale to provide the tools necessary for keeping a distribution channel connected.
Here are additional points to keep in mind when considering working with an ASP to deliver wireless applications:
Think sales autonomy and mobility first. The strength of wireless ASPs to deliver on the promise of mobility matters most to sales organizations. The majority of companies who have WAP-enabled strategies are finding that the traditional, vertical applications of wirelessmost notably in distribution-centric applicationsis dominating the latest generation of WAP devices in terms of frequency of use.
Get a sense of urgency about communication with your channel. The fact that more companies are looking to re-intermediate their channel participants into the process flow of how work is completed underscores the need for an anytime, anywhere data-transmission strategy. Microsoft's .Net initiative has the anytime, anywhere goal in sight, and with the launch of Windows XP on May 31rst, 2001, one of the first key building blocks at the operating system level will be in place.
Define metrics of responsiveness. Most important to anyone considering a wireless ASP relationship, the first task on an agenda of evaluating them is to get a clear set of objectives defined, including metrics of responsiveness. These include how quickly a transaction can be completed on a WAP-enabled device to the speed at which the ASP can solve your technical issues.
Get past SLAs to partnerships. As is true with any ASP relationship, get past the formalities and limited support of a Service Level Agreement, and get to what really matters: how the ASP will be able to help you handle getting a greater return on your investment. That's what partnerships are all aboutmaking a return happen on the investment you have made in the wireless ASP.
Consider automating field service and sales force processes with wireless first. The true traction of wireless ASPs is in their capability to deliver on the promise of making their users more responsive and quickly able to get information for clients. Check to make sure that the wireless ASP you consider working with has experience in minimum response times and the capability to transmit messaging through multiple location points.
Security is an issue. You need to complete due diligence on the network operating centers that companies have, especially in their selection of wireless transmission technology. This is admittedly close to a rocket science right now, so the largest and most established of companies, including Scientific-Atlanta and others, have the capability to deliver technologies that can be immune to eavesdropping. By nature, wireless technologies can be eavesdropped on. You need to consider the technology leaders in wireless hosting as the standard by which any other network-operating center is judged.