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Wired and Wireless Convergence

We're entering an era where small mobile devices are becoming an integral part of the Web's global information network—wherever you go, there they are. In the future, mobile applications will work best in situations where they can capitalize on the core virtues of wireless networks: convenience, personalization, and location. Such thinking is driven by the idea that putting the Internet in the palms of our hands will give both business professionals and consumers ever-increasing access to data and information, forcing e-business strategists to rethink and redesign their technical architectures and e-business processes. The job of organizing, managing, and targeting Web content for delivery to wireless devices—in addition to traditional wired access—has become much more challenging.

Oracle Corporation is working toward a mobile Web architecture similar to what I have described in this chapter.4 Figure 5-6 illustrates Oracle's Portal-To-Go architecture. Oracle has implemented a Java servlet toolkit for producing XML from database queries and other Web content and then transforming that XML to a range of browsing devices. I'm not highlighting this particular design as a recommendation, but their diagram is a good illustration of products being created by most major enterprise software vendors.

Figure 5-6 Oracle's Portal-To-Go architecture

The consumer-oriented wireless applications deployed to date have emphasized some rather bland uses, such as purchasing books via mobile phones, or services like real-time airline schedule information and reservations that offer significant value and convenience. Mobile entertainment applications and games have been a big hit in Japan, although these areas have had little penetration in the United States. The European market has moved very aggressively into new services that offer location-specific convenience, such as paying for parking by keying a parking location code into your mobile phone.

The B2B market holds the potential for many new, high-value uses of wireless technology. Most e-marketplaces or exchanges depend on a portal interface that is an integral part of supply chain or procurement operations. Some of the information sources displayed within these portals would benefit from convenient, remote access. For example, as auctions and bidding become commonplace features of these exchanges, it may be critical for the bidder to be in continuous contact with the status of an auction for a large commodity purchase. In addition, the buyer may need to monitor the status of several commodity markets to determine if or when to place a bid. A mobile phone or wireless PDA is an ideal access device for this requirement.

If this auction data were made available using an XML vocabulary, then all of the concepts described in this chapter could be applied. This data is only one of many aggregated sources that buyers would want on their desktop computers in a more comprehensive portal. But several of these portlets would be redirected and appropriately styled for presentation on the mobile portal. I look forward to seeing more of these kinds of applications that offer significant value, in addition to convenience.

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