Posts Tagged smartphones

Use Mobile Transactions to Drive E-Commerce Revenue Growth

If management is serious about increasing transaction volume this year, the organization needs to add mobile transactions to its strategy fast.  Mobile turned out to be a major factor in driving Thanksgiving and Black Friday sales last year, according to a study by IBM, and you can bet it will be even bigger this year.

Through March of this year smartphones and tablets accounted for almost half of digital time spent on retail websites and applications according to comScore, a research firm. Since 2011, mobile sales have increased almost three fold to $38.4 billion annually. According to estimates provided by eMarketer, mobile sales could double by 2016 to $86.9 billion.

Gartner takes a more global view, reporting worldwide mobile payment transaction values will reach $235.4 billion in 2013, a 44% increase from 2012 values of $163.1 billion. It estimates the number of mobile payment users worldwide will reach 245.2 million in 2013, up from 200.8 million in 2012.

“We expect global mobile transaction volume and value to average 35% annual growth between 2012 and 2017, and we are forecasting a market worth $721 billion with more than 450 million users by 2017,” said Sandy Shen, research director at Gartner.

Mobile commerce—transactions conducted via smartphones and tablets—is too important to be left to the marketing group or CMO alone. As transaction activity shifts to the mobile channel the CIO needs to get a handle on how to deliver efficient mobile transactions that facilitate customer purchases.  “Adoption of mobile is unprecedented, surpassing even email adoption a decade ago,” says Carissa Ganelli, CEO, LightningBuy, Bridgeport, CT. “More people than ever are accessing the Internet today, and it is driven mainly by mobile,” she adds.

Mobile commerce is different and the mobile buyer is different.  Many companies still don’t realize that. They try to retrofit their conventional e-commerce website for mobile marginal success at best.  “Sorry, the mobile experience is not the same as the desktop or laptop experience,” says Ganelli. The devices are smaller but the consumer behavior as a result is dramatically different.

 An IBM study found that consumers put, on average, 5.5 items in their desktop/laptop shopping cart. On their mobile devices, they put 1.2 items.  This tells you that consumers use their mobile devices for serious shopping.  They aren’t just browsing around. They are looking for one thing and prepared to buy it right then.  As a result, organizations need to rethink their e-commerce strategies in terms of stimulating conversions and maximizing revenue and profit. With mobile consumers, skip the loss-leaders and other low (or no) margin transactions and go for your best sales.

To win the mobile commerce game, companies need to think in terms of mobile behavior, notes Ganelli.  For example, a large party favors retailer’s typical order consists of 22 items. Forget that for mobile sales, even laptop sales average only 5.5 items per shopping cart. But thinking mobile, the retailer packaged those items into a single bundle, a Star Wars pack or a Superman pack. The mobile shopper, whose typical shopping cart contains 1.2 items, could then buy the entire package as one item.

Any transaction processing gateway can handle mobile payments these days. LightningBuy, however, offers a transparent, frictionless mobile commerce gateway to organizations wanting to ride the mobile wave without any new development work on their part. All that is required is adding one line of code (a cut and paste job) for the url. For the mobile customer it’s even better:  no account registration, no password needed, and no long and painful checkout process. On the seller side all the transaction processing, for better or worse, remains the same.  LightningBuy doesn’t touch your internal processes except to transparently expedite the mobile buy.

LightningBuy costs seem minimal: a one-time set up fee, a monthly fee, and a small transaction fee, 5-10%. There is no limit to the number of products you can add to your commerce pages. Still, it makes sense to shop around. An article in Business News Daily offers help sorting through the pros and cons of 14 different mobile payment services and that’s just a handful of what’s out there.

Right now mobile commerce remains primarily a consumer phenomenon but that could change as procurement and supply chain folks adopt smartphones and tablets.  There is no reason, notes Ganelli, that it couldn’t handle B2B transactions.


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Technology Trends for 2012

The big technology trends in 2012 will be extensions of trends that began in 2011 or earlier.  For example, BottomlineIT noted the Consumerization of IT  back in September. Expect it to pick up speed in 2012. Similarly you read about The Internet of Things here back in February. That too will drive technology trends in 2012.

The big IT research firms published their trends projections for 2012. You can find Gartner’s here.  Maybe more interesting to a CIO will be IDC’s security trends for 2012 here.

The tech trends below are based on the numerous vendor briefings and conferences BottomlineIT attends as well as talking with dozens of IT and business managers. Most shouldn’t surprise you if you have been reading BottomlineIT, but a few might.

Here are the technology trends for 2012:

BYOD—smartphones mainly and other devices. The twist is the growing adoption of Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) in which workers are encouraged to bring their personal smartphones to work while IT will be asked to support a range of popular devices, selectively open interfaces to data and applications, and insist on a certain level of security, such as data encryption. The business will have to resolve reimbursement issues, currently policies vary from zero to all.

Social Networking for Business—will only grow in the coming year.  Social networking is the way the next generation of workers live and increasingly work.  Businesses will want to identify and capitalize on opportunities in social networking starting with collaboration.

The Internet of Things—the digital transformation of the economy continues as chips are embedded in more things from consumer appliances to packaging materials, allowing companies to meter and monitor processes and activity. RFID is just the start. Watch for more digital instrumentation appearing.

 Automated, Real-time Data Analytics—a part of the Big Data trend. Expect to see the growing adoption of advanced data analytics, which increasingly will be automated to keep up with the high volume and in near-real time to allow for dynamic data-based decision-making. And the analytics will be baked in, relieving the business from having to maintain a stable of PhD quants.

Bio-metric Authentication—passwords provide poor security. Watch for increased adoption of bio-metrics in the form of fingerprints, retina scans, facial/voice recognition, and such to replace the use of passwords for authentication.

The Cloud goes Mainstream—most companies will develop a cloud strategy at some level, whether for backup to the cloud, SaaS, to augment existing capabilities, or something else.

Virtualized Enterprise—look for increasing virtualization of every digital aspect of the enterprise, from data networking to voice communications.

Solid state memory for storage—in one form or another solid state memory will be an increasing part of almost every storage strategy as costs continue to drop and vendors get better at integrating it into the products to boost performance.

Further out:

Electronic Wallets—smart devices, including smartphones, used for almost anything from buying a can of soda to proving who you are. Big vendors already are fighting over who provides the e-wallet. Think you worry about security now? This merits close scrutiny.

Geo-Location—between smart devices and GPS look for businesses increasingly to take advantage of geographic data, first for marketing (combined with QR codes) and then much more.

In-memory Computing—combining processing with memory speeds performance.  Expect to see entire databases processed in memory.

Gamification—applying aspects of computer gaming to business software offers the possibility of more compelling and engaging business applications.  Could ERP be improved through gamification? For sure.

However things shake out, 2012 should be an interesting year for technology, and BottomlineIT will stay on top of it.

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Consumerization of IT Comes to the Enterprise

Do people use their smartphones at work? That’s an example of the consumerization of IT. Does the company recruit employees or interact with customers through social media like Facebook? More consumerization of IT. How about invoicing and payment or procurement through cloud-based exchanges like Ariba? Same thing.

A Unisys study two years ago hinted at the consumerization of IT in the business. An online poll of more than 500 enterprise information workers showed a majority prefer using their own PC or a hosted virtual desktop to do their work and to access information resources. Only a minority continues to subscribe to the traditional model of using a PC provided and managed by their company.

 A more recent Unisys study in conjunction with IDC dubbed this trend Consumer-Powered IT, and already it is turning the traditional IT business model on its head. Unisys expects it will transform organizations over the next 3-5 years while bringing in a new wave of business productivity. The question become if and how IT should respond to this trend. Ignoring it, a favorite IT strategy of the past hasn’t worked then and won’t work now.

Last year Unisys described the consumerization of IT as “perhaps the most radical transformation sweeping the technology landscape and enterprise IT.” BottomlineIT wouldn’t go quite that far—early personal computers running a spreadsheet called VisiCalc (1979) drove modern desktop computing into the enterprise, which proved to be pretty radical at the time. The PC running VisiCalc might have been the first example of consumer-inspired IT.

By the mid 1980s workers expected arrive at work on their first day to find the company provided and supported desktop computer. Now workers are showing up with their own apps running on their own devices; a smartphone, iPad, or other tablet devices. They handle their own email, messaging, and social networking through their devices, and they expect their employer to let them connect to the corporate network as well. They expect to add their work apps to the personal apps already residing on their preferred device.

This represents a stunning turnaround. The organization, in effect, has lost control of its technology strategy.  Such consumer-powered IT, as Unisys notes, exposes a troubling gap between the activities and expectations of these workers and their employers’ abilities to manage, secure, and support what amounts to a blurring of personal and business communications and compute activity. The upside: greater productivity through new ways of connecting and collaborating and increased competitiveness through the workplace innovation that invariably follows.

The downside is loss of control and a need for new ways to reassert control. The IT group will need to interface with and support this disparate collection of devices. The company also needs to devise a layered security strategy and redefine its governance policies to encompass these new and varied ways of working so compliance mandates can be met. An investment in new management tools is likely.

When handled right, the consumerization of IT can spur valuable innovation. Take two newly hired workers who encountered a problem when inspecting a facility, pulled out a smartphone, snapped some photos, and emailed them to the appropriate people along with brief explanatory text. Suddenly the new hires had demonstrated how to streamline a vexing business process and bypassed tons of paperwork.

The Internet, the World Wide Web, Google, Facebook, Twitter, eBay, Skype, even the cloud have been driven by consumers. It will become the way your organization receives and delivers services in the future. Start preparing now for the new connected smartphone, tablet, swipe-and-tap world of business computing.

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The Internet of Things

The Internet of things has the potential to change our businesses and our lives as much as or possibly more than today’s Internet. It has been a long time in coming, maybe since the advent of bar codes but certainly since the development of RFID tags.

Among the recognized thought leaders is McKinsey. You can check out a piece they posted last March here IBM has a five-minute video that introduces it here.

The Internet of things is another aspect of the digital transformation of the world. IBM has given it the Smarter Planet label. Others call it the global digital nervous system.  It is the collection of devices, phones, computers, sensors, and more that are continuously capturing and communicating digitized information. And once that information is digitized we can begin to do something with it. What kind of information do you need to advance your business objectives?

When IBM talks about the Smarter Planet it is talking about the Internet of Things. IBM sees it as the intelligence being infused into the systems and processes that make the world work—into things no one would recognize as computers: cars, appliances, roadways, power grids, clothes, even natural systems such as agriculture and waterways.

Would your business like to know how people actually use your products? It might change the way you create, design, build, and market. Of course you could approximate some of this information through focus groups, but they are costly and imperfect. Sensors built into your products and communicating back to you about how they are actually being used would give you the real story.

RFID (Radio Frequency ID) is steadily altering the supply chain. The time when every consumer product has an RFID tag remains some time away, but the technology is being widely adopted in the back room, the back lot, on the shipping dock, and more. That’s the Internet of Things.

Smartphones, WiFi, wireless communications of all types are fueling the Internet of Things. The number of smartphone users soon will be in the hundreds of millions. Each smartphone can be a sensor on the Internet of Things.

Pretty soon, for example, people will use smartphones to purchase a can of soda from a vending machine; that’s the Internet of Things. These phones will be generating presence sensing data, GPS data, motion data, transaction data, and more. Would your marketing department like to know when someone walks into a place selling your product? Better yet, what if they pick up your product and then start to put it down! (Remember, some smartphones sense motion and direction.)

The Internet of Things gets exponentially bigger when digitized surveillance data is added to it. Think of the various CSI and NCSI cop shows where the good guys grab digital video from various surveillance cameras and combine it with blueprints of buildings and schematics. That is Hollywood make-believe today but clearly points to the Internet of Things, a digitally transformed world where vast information is sensed, metered, captured, communicated, and could be available at the click of a button.

Even before then the demand for IP addresses is pushing the capability of today’s Internet to accommodate  new addresses. To meet what will is shaping up as insatiable demand for IP addresses, the Internet will shortly be adopting IPv6.  That should take care of IP  addresses for the rest of any of our lifetimes and beyond.

What will be needed to succeed in that world is excellent analytics—fast real-time analytics that grab the right information and spew out accurate analyses fast. Are you prepared?


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