Many companies will tell you they can help you go wireless. And they can. But the question you need to ask is this: Will it be just another quick fix?
Will it be able to leverage my existing e-business infrastructure and technologies?
Will it be open on the back-end, in order to simplify integration with my entire system?
The real challenge for companies implementing wireless solutions is to know these answers. And to know for a fact that any solution they select will leverage their existing technologies, adding value and not just more cost.
Every company deserves a solution that will allow them to create mobile applications which leverage all their existing investment in both Web and legacy systems. So that there's no problem interfacing with databases, content and application servers, email systems, transactional back-ends and more.
Will it be fast, reliable?
Mobile wireless network services are getting better (from 4Kbps or 9.6Kbps to as high as 30Kbps for circuit switched Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) networks using compression algorithms). But slow speeds have been a deterrent to corporate adoption. Consequently, wireless solutions simply have to maximize performance wherever possible. Any solution, which is layered on the Web and uses a "screen scraping" approach - which many are - will necessarily degrade the user's experience. Period.
Most wireless solution providers attempt to address this deficiency by compressing the data prior to transmission across the airwaves. But the best approach is to extract only the key information from the data sources, rather than from HTML applications, which are built from the data. This direct approach helps to isolate your mobile solution from many of the problems that may arise in your current e-business application.
Will it scale to meet the growing demands of your business?
As your business grows, will your solution grow with it? Will it keep up with more and more users as they come on to the system? Will it be robust and tested to support thousands of simultaneous users? Doe it scale linearly with increased hardware capacity? Has it been tested to prove it can support hundreds and even thousands of simultaneous users?
As your mobile commerce solution grows and services greater volumes of users it should remain completely reliable and scale and perform as needed. Your solution should - and must - provide a growth path for new and additional functionality, new devices and new wireless networks, avoiding technology obsolescence in this rapidly changing world. And your mobile solution must scale to meet the ever-greater demands of wireless access.
Will it provide a secure connection?
Will your solution provide end-to-end security, interacting directly with industry standard security mechanisms? Will it fall down if you make a change to your wired site? In other words, is it truly impervious to Web site modifications?
You need to be able to frequently change your e-business application to deliver new functionality, to address new market requirements and to maintain your competitive edge. Unlike all the "screen scraping" technologies on the market today which are layered on your Web site, the right solution provides you with a direct feed to the data, eliminating the need for synchronization between the wired and wireless world.
A number of companies combine consulting with software to deliver custom solutions. And while this might be adequate for static applications such as stock quotes, weather or news, applications that are tied to a company's lifeblood are extremely volatile, and they require certain changes to continue delivered value. The best solution includes easy to use tool s that enable a company to maintain the currency of their wireless applications without depending on long term, continued consulting.
Unfortunately, many companies typically view wireless applications as simply variants of their existing Web applications. So the result; the new wireless requirements are layered on top of the existing Web site. This simplistic solution is called "screen scraping", and translates the existing Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) to device markups, such as Wireless Markup Language (WML) or Handheld Device Markup Language (HDML), making the necessary changes to adapt to this smaller real estate.
While this may seem to be the fastest and most cost effective way to deploy wireless, it provides short-term results at the expense of long-term flexibility and maintenance. Important transactions and "actionable" content suffer dramatically from this approach.
In today's highly competitive business climate, companies frequently change their Web sites to deliver new functionality, to address new market requirements, and to maintain their competitive edge. Since corporations have capitalized on their ability to continuously and quickly improve their Web sites, there will be resistance to a wireless solution which inhibits rapid change. But a wireless solution such which 'piggy backs' upon existing sites requires additional effort to update each and every time the Web site changes.
The optimal mobile commerce solution does not use the "screen scraping" approach. So there's no need for synchronization between the wired and wireless versions of an application.
Will it allow you to have customized views based on usage patterns?
The right solution provides an unequaled level of personalization, delivering unique information - what you want, what you need - directly into your hands. This creates a truly personalized channel for two-way interaction between an organization and the end-user,
Will it allow you to push information out to your customers?
The right solution should allow you to provide critical information to mobile users whenever they need it, wherever they need it. Because real-time notification capabilities help you manage time-sensitive data. And this will only boost customer satisfaction and loyalty, and directly impact your revenue stream.
Will it work on every new wireless device that comes along? Every day technology advances. Every day another new - and more sophisticated -- wireless device comes along. And companies deploying wireless applications should seek solutions that aren't limited to the wireless devices on the shelf today. The selected solution has to work for the next device to come along. And the one after that. And even the one after that.
Will it take advantage of each device's own peculiarities both good and bad?
Every device has its own environment, its own capabilities. So layout and navigation must be effective and efficient for m-commerce client devices that have limited screen size and input mechanisms; Content must be kept consistent across an array of separate devices and hosting providers; Mobile application "look and feel" must be made as consistent as possible among all these differing devices.
Will it work internationally, around the globe?
The right solution should support multiple languages and localization. It should accept data and deliver output in multiple encodings with Unicode-compliant data. Whether you have offices in one country or dozens, your wireless solution should be able to support them all. Why invest in multiple solutions for each country? Why build and manage multiple wireless sites, when you can invest in one solution, build it once, for all device, all back-end data sources, in all languages.
Will it provide you with a robust platform that supports your site's complexity?
Will it grow with you, for you, in ways you've never thought of? Will it help get you where you want to go? It's this simple: ICEGEN'S "SMARTWAP" is more than a software solution. It is a software platform for delivering reliable, high-performance mobile commerce applications. ICEGEN provides the range of capabilities you need to deliver sophisticated mobile applications, including proxy cookie management, session management, security and automatic device formatting. ICEGEN is here for you now, today, whatever your needs.