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Mobilizing the Enterprise

Most enterprise solution providers now provide some sort of wireless touch point, be it an SMS alert solution, a WAP application, or a customized vertical application. From generic touch points to LOB applications, highly verticalized solutions are now available for adoption. Table 1 shows a detailed list of wireless applications, categorized by the verticals that CIOs can consider building.

Table 1. Specialized Wireless Applications for Industries

Vertical

Wireless Application

Bank

Wireless becomes virtually a new service channel with provisions for providing account-related information, including statement inquiries and account transfers.

Brokerage

Alerts for new issue offerings and portfolio management.

Health care

Wireless-enabled prescription records. Hospitals can also store internal data that can be accessed by employees, doctors, and nursing staff.

Telecom

A host of data-based, value-added services can be provided (for example, mobile alerts, bill payments, and low-value purchases using mobile phones).

High-tech

Many opportunities for developing applications in which OEMs can manage their inventories. PDA-based SFA (Sales Force Automation) can be built for sales staff at high-tech corporations.

Media and entertainment

Wireless content can be made available for different devices, thereby opening a new revenue channel.


Although Table 1 broadly highlights the data touch points that need to be wireless-enabled, it might make sense to elaborate on some of the very specific verticalized solutions (see also Table 2). The health care segment is a good example of a vertical for wireless solutions because it's a critical lifesaving function. Also, the segment has a major business pain point is managing and retrieving patient records. Given the criticality of emergency care, a solution based on handhelds can be built that stores patient data locally at the point of care; and can later be synchronized across departments to specialists and emergency care, and backed up on enterprise systems.

That's not all: At a Symbol Mobile Conference last year in the U.S., Dymar Medical Solutions talked about a wireless health care solution that synchronizes patient information to various enterprise systems, enabling physicians to access and update critical patient information by scanning patients' ID bracelet. Solutions that help eliminate prescription errors (for example, when the physician's handheld is synchronized with the pharmacy) are also available for deployment today.

Table 2. Enterprise Wireless Landscape

Enterprise systems

Scenario/Touch Point

Device and Technology Option

Customer relationship management system

B2E: Sales force automation touch point for sales updates.

B2C: Alerts to consumers on promotional offers.

Pocket PCs and mobile phones.

J2ME or .net Compact Framework for building applications.

Supply chain management system

B2B: Touch point to SCM cockpits to enable static inventories to zero.

Pocket PCs J2ME or .net Compact Framework for building applications.

Knowledge management system

B2E: Wireless email connectivity can be provided to boost employee productivity.

Mobile Outlook, Windows CE.net and Microsoft Exchange Server; Visual Studio.net. Terminal Access Server to provide full desktop access.

ERP system

Critical data on inventory levels and raw material supply can be wireless-enabled.

Pocket PCs or mobile phones.

J2ME or .net Compact Framework for building applications.


Most forward-thinking manufacturing companies have supply chain management systems that help them reduce inventories and optimize production levels. These manufacturing concerns can also be running knowledge management systems, such as an enterprise information portal. In such a scenario, the wireless strategy should be function-based, implying that supervisors for production should have handhelds that talk to the SCM systems, whereas sales staff should have wireless touch point to knowledge management systems. For field sales staff, another solution that can be wireless-enabled is the sales force automation software, in which not only can they can book orders real time and check product configurations, but at the same time can also get real-time financial approvals.

The telecom segment is one of the very few verticals, wherein the scope for deploying solutions is twofold: one with consumers and second with employees. Financial services companies (especially the banks) are adopting the wireless channel in a big way; not only are they providing account-related information, but are also experimenting with applications such as mobile advertising, mobile customer care, and mobile loyalty programs.

In the retail segment, there are two types of solutions that can be deployed: customer self-service, wherein consumers can make purchases over intelligent retail appliances; and internal systems, wherein employees can do inventory control and labor scheduling over their devices.

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