Executives Disconnected From Mobile Commerce

Is your boss missing the wireless revolution? If you're a regular reader of this magazine, you sense the unlimited potential for wireless e-commerce and might already be dreaming of integrating these solutions into your business processes. But there's a good chance your boss isn't ready, according to a recent survey conducted by TNS Intersearch.

TNS Intersearch polled 75 e-business decision makers at Fortune 1000 companies and found that 52 percent believe that wireless transactions are still at least five years away. "There is a wireless gap in American business, and it looks like it could grow even wider," says Heiner Rutt, president of Proxicom, the e-business consulting firm that commissioned the survey. "While American consumers are using wireless technologies more than ever, the majority of American businesses are not focused on the wireless platform as a transactional delivery mechanism."

This news might come as a surprise to anyone who has been following recent wireless data research. The Yankee Group reports that the domestic business-to-consumer wireless data market currently stands at $1.3 billion and will increase to $16.7 billion by 2005, when 20 percent of U.S. mobile phone users will rely on wireless data.

M-commerce, the group says, will expand next year as rising data transfer rates enable easier wireless transactions. By 2005, mobile e-commerce will generate $2 billion for wireless data carriers and their partners. In companies with more than 1,000 employees, the number of workers carrying mobile devices to transmit data will increase from 800,000 to 9 million by 2003, according to Cahners In-stat Group. Meanwhile, Dataquest foresees the number of wireless point-of-sale terminals in North America rising from 75 million in 1998 to 150 million by 2003.

Disconnections between executives and market potentialities, like those shown by the TNS Intersearch survey, are nothing new. But for enterprise mobile champions, it does represent a gap they must bridge in years to come.

"We saw corporations slow to embrace the Internet and now see the edge businesses gain when they establish multichannel e-business, especially through leveraging wireless applications in the near term," Proxicom's Rutt observes.

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