m-Business relates to e-business as m-commerce relates to e-commerce. Typically, m-business solutions are used by corporations to provide secure mobile access to enterprise data from any location. They allow employees to be more effective at their jobs. By having critical data at their fingertips, employees can respond more quickly to inquiries, remove inefficiencies brought about by manual data entry and retrieval, and make decisions based on current information. Most of the current demand for mobile and wireless technology surrounds the m-business market.
While consumers continue to purchase inexpensive mobile phones, business users are adopting high-end PDAs and laptops to conduct business. They require devices that have adequate power and functionality for advanced business applications. When wireless data access is required, business users are not deterred by the associated costs because they obtain justifiable benefits from implementing m-business applications. Corporations are able to readily see the benefits in terms of return on investment and employee productivity. In contrast to the hype around m-commerce, there is true growth and opportunity for revenue around m-business.
m-Business solutions are being deployed in several industries, using a wide variety of mobile and wireless technology ranging from public wireless networks to local area wireless networks. Devices range from mobile phones to PDAs to ruggedized tablets. The users of these applications include mobile business users, sales agents, and field service workers. Some of the leading m-business solutions being deployed today include:
Mobile office. Mobile office solutions integrate with enterprise groupware systems, such as Microsoft Exchange and Lotus Notes, to provide timely access to enterprise information such as email, calendars, task lists, and address books. Access to these applications has become a core requirement for many mobile professionals. (This is not to be confused with Microsoft Office productivity tools such as Word and Excel.)
Field sales. Current information is one of the most important assets for a sales force to have. The difference between making a sale or not often depends on having immediate access to information while you are still meeting with the customer. The best way to ensure the sales staff has this information is to deploy a mobile Sales Force Automation (SFA) application.
Field service. The nature of field service makes it an ideal candidate for mobile solutions. Service workers can improve their efficiency by having job-related information on hand, such as customer service history, inventory information, technical specifications, and data on repair procedures. In addition, information on customer issues and schedule changes can be sent to technicians while they are traveling.
Transportation and logistics. Providing delivery drivers with a mobile solution allows transportation and logistics businesses to have up-to-the minute information on deliveries, completed checkpoints, package statuses, and vehicle locations. In addition, delivery drivers can receive wireless dispatches and respond instantly, improving productivity and increasing customer satisfaction.
The applications just listed are only a sample of the numerous m-business solutions being developed and deployed today. There are literally hundreds of other mobile line-of-business solutions being used to help corporations become more successful. Mobile business applications are now starting to move beyond the early adopter stage to become a core component of a successful enterprise solution.
The information provided in this section is just an overview of what m-business solutions can provide. The focus of this book is primarily on the design and development of m-business solutions. The topics discussed do lend themselves well to m-commerce as well, but the intent is to provide information that is relevant to m-business.