The advent of wireless and mobile technology has created both new opportunities and new challenges for the business community. In its present state, M-Commerce can be viewed as an extension of conventional, Internet-based E-Commerce, which adds a different mode of network and accommodates different end users’ characteristics. However, if the predictions stating that mobile and wireless computing will dominate the Internet industry in the future materialize, the E-Commerce and M-Commerce could become a singular blended entity.
M-Commerce, as defined by Muller and Veerse, stands for conducting commercial transactions via a “mobile” telecommunications network using a communication, information, and payment (CIP) device such as a mobile phone or a palmtop unit. In a broader sense, M-Commerce can simply be defined as exchanging products, ideas and services between mobile users and providers. This paper will also give an overview of the characteristics of M-Commerce. We discuss the basic characteristics of M-Commerce that have the potential to influence the basic marketing orientation of both sellers and buyers, and, above all, alter the general dynamics of the market.
There are many definitions of m-commerce with differing emphases. Keen and Mackintosh define m-commerce as the extension of electronic commerce from wired to wireless computers and telecommunications, and from fixed locations to anytime, anywhere, and anyone. when something is mobile it means that its primary usage environment is a mobile one. On the other hand, mobility in itself and mobile technology is not necessarily a value; the freedom created and supported with the technology is the key issue. Durlacher define m-commerce as “any transaction with a monetary value that is conducted via a mobile telecommunication network”.
The focus in this definition lies on the exchange of products and services that is associated with a monetary value. They specifically list any kind of service that can be provided by the mobile device, thus expanding the mere commercial character through communicative and informative services. A mobile device is a small smart device. It can be a mobile phone, a communicator or a PDA. It communicates and transfers data (convenience). It is used only by its owner (personalization). It can provide information anytime, anywhere (ubiquity).
Capturing the concept of mobility, a user can be contacted anywhere (reachability). A mobile device can provide users? locations (localization). Knowledge of users? precise geographical location allows customized, relevant content to be delivered to them when and where they need it. It can also be used to connect to the Internet (instant connectivity). Ubiquitous interactivity (figure 1) is what makes mobile devices unique. Wireless devices enable users to send, receive, and act on information in real-time, independent of their location.
The western mobile and remote workforce is growing, driven by both business necessity and technological innovation. One explanation for increased work mobility is the emergence of service industry as a dominating occupation in the post-industrial society. Service work is often performed, where the customer is, and thus making many services mobile. It is not like manufacturing work; which takes place where the machinery is located. Another factor is the increased cooperation in and between organizations. Some forms of cooperation can take place remotely, but people still need to meet physically.
A third important factor for increased mobility is the extensive adoption of mobile technologies. Mobile technologies enable people to be mobile and yet accessible. As people have become accessible independent of place, new ways of working have emerged in many organizations. To describe the mobile worker, new concepts have been coined. Mobile commerce may impact both mobile workers and their enterprises in the following dimensions. Location: The post-industrial workers work at various locations: in their office, at clients? office, at colleagues? office, in the train, hotel rooms, etc.
We can thus imagine that during this extensive geographical movement, mobile workers are often away form the “benevolent dictator”, their desktop computers, which contain most of the information they need and impose rigid constraints on how and where they can be used. With m-commerce the user is put in the centre of information and communication. Information comes to the user instead of the user looking for it. This makes mobile workers able to receive actionable and useful information on demand at the moment of relevance and regardless of their location and extensive movement.
Sales reps are examples of workers who are constantly on the road while their effectiveness depends to a large extent on their ability to have immediate access to account information, current prices, order status and market conditions. The importance of immediate access to information by salespeople is well recognized in the personnel selling literature. Salespeople? effectiveness can be enhanced by providing them with market research information and encouraging them to unitize information.
With vast amount of relevant information about client’s orders, roduct’s profitability, promotions at their fingertips regardless of their locations, sales reps can adjust their call schedule to adequately target those customers with the highest potential at the right time. Additionally, receiving time-sensitive alerts about customers? latest orders, industry indicators and competitors? actions, may enable sales reps to tailor their sales messages to a specific customer, adapt to opportunities that arise during the sale call and overcome objections. Indeed, many empirical studies find a strong effect of adaptive selling on salesperson performance.
Furthermore, M-commerce can enable mobile workers to use more efficiently their dead time. This time generally occurs between tasks and between meetings, in which workers usually have little control over the resources available to them. For instance, pharmaceutical sales reps often visit doctors to provide them with information on what is available as order brochures on products in which the doctor is interested. Frequently the doctor is not available and the representative wants to find a nearby alternative contact.
If there is no alternative contact to visit, then the time for waiting for the doctor to become available may turn to be dead time for the sales representative. With m-commerce, the sales reps can turn this dead time into a productive one by performing non-selling tasks such as completing and sending expense reports to their company, preparing invoices or writing and sending thanks letters to customers. These reduce the time that sales reps have to spend in the office to perform routine tasks and thus allow them to spend more time selling.
Indeed, McGraw Hill’s study of 239 salespeople across 198 different companies reveals that salespeople spend on the average about 25% of their time waiting for interviews with clients and travelling. Using dead time more efficiently may occur in a variety of locations (i. e. trains, airports, airplanes, hotels rooms, office buildings, etc). Additionally, mobile workers spend considerable portion of their time on the road, Awareness of their geographical position by the network can allow relevant support and alerts be sent to theme.
Examples of such alerts are “there is a traffic jam two kilometers ahead, use the alternative highway”, “there is a restaurant offering 10% discount in avenue X “, I have a breakdown, in nowhere, send me a tow truck”, ”your client X is in the avenue ahead to you ”. Interaction: Asynchronous communications enabled by emails has made co-workers interactions with others more flexible. However, asynchronous communication inevitably creates time lag. Until a receiver of an email actually goes to his computer and read the email, the communication does not come into effect in practice.
Moreover, email communication requires a computer and software, which are mostly fixed to a certain location such as an office and home. M-commerce may enhance interaction among distributed workers and others by enabling them to have access to corporate resources, send and receive emails regardless of their location. For instance journalists on the move are often faced with situations in which they have to report events on topics on which they are not fully profound with. Also reporting is often conducted away from editorial staff and radio TV / station’s resources.
In such a case M-commerce can provide support to journalists by enabling them, irrespective of their locations, to connect to their TV/Radio station’s intranet. The system can then provide them with the list of resources available on the topic they want to cover together with contact details of colleague who have expertise in such topics. The journalists can then either use the available resources to get an understanding of the topic or elect to contact their colleagues for more interaction.
Additionally, ubiquitous access to e-mails and corporate data by mobile workers may enable them to make themselves readily available to address customer problems and questions. Reducing the time it takes to deal with a client’s concern or difficulty may have a positive impact on customer orientation, the degree to which the seller is perceived by the buyer to put customer’s need first. Indeed, customer orientation is a key enabler of buyer-seller relationship developments. Operations: we are witnessing the emergence of new forms of organization, in particular virtual Corporations.
Virtual corporations could not exist without an effective information exchange and efficient coordination of the members. This applies also to other management initiatives such as project team or task force. But it is sometimes challenging for corporations to ensure fast coordination among co-workers while they are on the move even if they introduced Internet technologies such as email in their work practices. M-commerce can act as the “glue” among distributed members, by connecting them more tightly regardless of their locations.
This may for instance make it possible for marketing managers to use real time data flowing from the field to evaluate the results of promotions and new product introductions more rapidly and communicate their reactions (i. e. promotions) to the field force. Manufacturing may also use real time field information to reduce overproduction and the incidence of stale products. Additionally, Top executives often need information on market and competitors issues before they make big decisions.
Real time information flowing from the field would enable executives to make decisions based on accurate information, which may enhance the quality of their decisions. Indeed the best source for top executives with regard to both market and competition watch is the field force. Conclusion Thus we have discussed about M-Commerce and the challenges that they impose on workers while on the move. We have also explored how m-commerce with its unique attributes can provide mobile workers with more freedom and support through minimizing non-productive time, enhancing interaction with other members and improving the quality of decisions.
It is worth mentioning that m-commerce may result in some consequences that workers may not welcome. Perhaps the most immediate drawback of extensive use of mobile technologies by workers is the problem of “interaction overload”. Anytime and anywhere connectivity may becomes everywhere/all-the-time connectivity; which may result in the danger of users becoming “too connected”. But in the other hand, access to information at the point of relevance may make it possible for mobile worker to work smarter and to minimize their unproductive time, which may enhance their life / work balance.