Assessing Alternatives for Mobile Computing Adoption:
Implications for Customer Satisfaction, Process Improvement and Profitability
Customers’ Adoption of Mobile Computing transforms Value Chains
Customers are redefining their strategies for learning about, evaluating, purchasing and seeking support of new products and services at an accelerating rate. The rapid adoption of social networks for evaluating, comparing, in some cases shopping and purchasing products has become commonplace (Bernoff, Li, et.al). Social networks are predicated on a series of Web 2.0 technologies, the design objectives which are shown in Appendix A of this analysis (O’Reilly, 10). Compounding this is the fact that social networks, Web 2.0 technologies and a fundamental shift in how distribution and service channels are shifting based on customers’ preferences is re-defining entire value chains of companies today (Stone, Hobbs, Khaleeli, 51, 52). A critical catalyst of all these strategic shifts in how customers compare, shop, purchase and expect support from companies is the use of smartphones, Netbooks and related mobile computing platforms. As customers are completely re-ordering the channel dynamics of entire industries due to the convergence of the factors mentioned, it is imperative for any company seeking to grow profitability to anticipate and react to these strategic shifts. The role of mobile computing devices for customers has a multiplicative effect throughout a company’s selling channels, supply chain, services organization and eventually, its profitability.
Customers’ Adoption of Mobile Computing transforms Value Chains
The rapid adoption and proliferation of mobile computing platforms from smart phones to Netbooks and increasingly, tablet-based personal computers, is having a significant impact on company’s entire value chains (Birch, 37). The impact of the rapid adoption of mobile computing has first been seen in how social networks (Bernoff, Li, et.al.) are redefining selling, distribution and service channel relationships. As customers’ expectations have increased give the real-time availability of support and in many cases, purchasing and service advice, the expectations they have about their relationships with companies is changing and becoming more immediate in scope.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) strategies are being re-ordered by the adoption of mobile platforms and the mobile devices they support, often redefining the perception of time customers have for responsiveness on the part of companies they purchase from (Schierholz, Kolbe, Brenner, 824, 823). Mobile computing devices can deliver data, insights, information, messages and updates in seconds globally, and as a result of this, customers are increasingly expecting this level of consistent performance of companies, regardless of when a request is made. Customer relationships as a result are becoming more interactive and like conversations (Bernoff, Li, et.al.) and less like slower, more orchestrated and often “canned” or preplanned responses. Customers expect that the responses to their questions will be personalized, immediate, relevant, accurate, and reflect the totality of their history with a given company. In short, mobile platforms and the computing devices they support are revolutionizing markets to be more customer-centric than ever before and forcing companies to be more synchronized to their customers’ changing needs as well. For those companies who keep pace with their customers’ preferences and continually add value to customer relationships with useful and insightful information in addition to responsive service and support, profitability will be more attainable as customer churn will be reduced (Schierholz, Kolbe, Brenner, 881-883). Yet for organizations that fail to make these fundamental shifts in their customer strategies, they will over time be seen as less relevant and will eventually lose customers to competitors who have kept pace with how customers want to buy.
The multifaceted aspects of creating effective customer relationship management strategies using mobile computing platform and devices show strong potential to also increase customer loyalty (Sinisalo, Salo, Karjaluoto, Leppaniemi, et.al.). Studies indicate that the most effective CRM strategies that integrate mobile computing platforms and devices do so at the process level first, anticipating the unmet needs of customers and redefining process workflows accordingly (Stone, Hobbs, Khaleeli, 44, 45). The net result of this strategy is that each mobile-enabled and Web-enabled software application and process is made more useful, valuable and over time, profitable for customers to use. Enriching mobile- and Web-based applications with real-time data and intelligence significantly increases customer loyalty and leads to a more effective long-term customer retention strategy (Sinisalo, Salo, Karjaluoto, Leppaniemi, et.al.).
Companies getting the best results from supporting their customers on mobile computing platforms and devices concentrate first on how to streamline existing processes while enriching them with additional information from e-commerce, pricing, services and support databases and systems as well. Using Web Services, which are Web-based applications that are designed to be highly efficient at integrating databases and quickly delivering requested data to customers, companies are creating entirely new Web-based and mobile applications to provide their customers with real-time information and intelligence (Maamar, 310, 311). Web Services are also called “mash-ups” because they often integrate two or more completely different data sets so that customers can get right to the data and information they need quickly (Maamar, 303, 304).
From doing nothing, which would virtually guarantee customer churn over time as competitors aggressively pursue mobile computing platforms to lure new customers, to a series of potential alternatives, the intent of this section is to define potential strategies for the company to adopt. The second alternative is to pilot a mobile platform strategy that takes into account CRM data and creates Web Services would be the least time-consuming and yields the most insights into how best the company could align with and anticipate customers’ needs in this rapidly changing area. A pilot would also be constrained in terms of cost and timeframes, and also concentrate on integration to CRM data only, integrating via Web Services to each customer’s profile. The functionality of a pilot could also be measured in terms of customer satisfaction as well, as surveys of the Web Services application could be done immediately following a 30 to 90 day pilot.
The third alternative is to extend the scope of the project beyond CRM data to include supply chain data and included automation of the quote-to-order process as well. Integrating supply chain data would require the use of Radio Frequency identification (RFID) tags to ensure real-time data capture on inventory positions and the status of orders (Brintrup, Ranasinghe, McFarlane, 2713, 2714). RFID could provide real-time order status for each customer order as it passes through manufacturing to logistics and finally shopping. The increase in speed and accuracy of order tracking would be costly (Ustundag,2549) and initially time-consuming to set up (Smart, Bunduchi, Gerst,423) yet over time would have a significant financial impact on the financial performance of the entire company due to greater accuracy being achieved (Osman, Ram, Stanfield, Samanlioglu, Davis, Bhadury, et.al.). This type of program illustrates how the adoption of mobile computing platforms over time directly impacts the value chain of an organization.
The fourth and final alternative is to create an enterprise-wide mobile platform that includes context- and location-aware Web Services which provides customers with a 360 degree view of all their activity and options anywhere, anytime. State of the art Web Services today support technologies for creating context- and location-aware Web Services (Zhang, Adipat, Mowafi, et.al.). The challenge of this approach is the depth of XML integration required in conjunction with AJAX programming to make the entire platform run efficiently enough on mobile computing devices worldwide. It is the most ambitious option yet also the greatest in terms of retaining and gaining customers over time. It would literally include integrating supply chain, pricing, manufacturing, logistics, field service and customer service all together into an enterprise platform. In effect a Service oriented Architecture (SOA) with integration to Cloud Computing services and platforms (Birch, 37) would need to be completed. This would also rely on real-time data from manufacturing and distribution through RFID systems integration which would in effect many the entire company customer-centric and demand-driven (Wang, Chen, Xie, 2512, 2513).
Clearly the option of doing nothing is not acceptable as Web 2.0 technologies, the catalyst behind social networks, combined with Web Services and streamlined XML messaging, are revolutionizing the use of mobile computing platforms. To do nothing is invite customer churn given how quickly customer preferences are changing for using mobile computing channels to communicate with, learn from and converse with companies of interest (Bernoff, Li, et.al.).
The most reasonable alternative is to complete a pilot mobile computing platform that includes Web Services integrated to CRM legacy systems and applications. This pilot will also be 90 days in scope, be defined a series of AJAX-based Web Services optimized to run as efficiently as possible over XML networks compatible with mobile computing platforms. The processes that will be streamlined include customer service, order status, online ordering, integration to customer pricing and ordering data, and the option of cross-shopping on a mobile device across two or more channels at once. In addition, all customer-specific data will be available and the Web Service will run on the AJAX programming language.
An essential part of this pilot will be to benchmark the time it takes to complete each of the processes mentioned, and also the customers’ satisfaction levels with how they complete those processes today. These two sets of data points including time savings from process improvement and aggregate increase in customer satisfaction ratings, will be used to determine if the pilot is successful or not. An additional aspect of the pilot will include competitive analysis and benchmarking, including an assessment of compatibility by the top three competitors;’ Web Services applications on mobile platforms. Competitive benchmarking will be completed on a purely XML-based network, one that is purely based on the Internet networking standard TCP/IP and also one purely configured for HTTP protocol. Testing across all three of these protocols will also replicate what customers will experience depending on the mobile platform they are also running on.
In addition to these compatibility tests there will be extensive usability tests completed in conjunction with specific audiences of customers. These usability tests will seek to gain input on customers’ attitudes, preferences, unmet needs, questions about navigation and ease of use. All the insights gained from this analysis will also be included in a Web Services introduction plan that will be sued to complete the pilot and prepare for the full launch of the mobile applications.
Bernoff, J., and C. Li. “Harnessing the Power of the Oh-So-Social Web. ” MIT Sloan Management Review 49.3 (2008): 36-42.
(see attachment for this reference)
Birch, D. “The future – mobile channel and clouds. ” Financial World 1 Dec. 2009
The future – mobile channel and clouds
David Birch. Financial World. Canterbury: Dec 2009/Jan 2010. pg. 37
The last decade saw great change in financial services technology. Online access is now the norm. There is reason to expect more change in the next decade; there are three main technological pressures for this onward march. First, the role of mobile phones as the central channel for distributing financial services is assured. A second pressure comes from “the cloud.” Third, the combination of mobile phones as access devices and the cloud as service platform means there has to be a revolution in the technology of identification and authentication.
Indexing (document details)
The dotcom bubble – 10 years on Publication title:
Financial World. Canterbury: Dec 2009/Jan 2010. pg. 37
Brintrup, A., D. Ranasinghe, and D. McFarlane. “RFID opportunity analysis for leaner manufacturing. ” International Journal of Production Research 48.9 (2010): 2745.
RFID opportunity analysis for leaner manufacturing
Alexandra Brintrup, Damith Ranasinghe, Duncan McFarlane. International Journal of Production Research. London: 2010. Vol. 48, Iss. 9; pg. 2745
Although RFID is seen by many as a revolutionary enabler of automated data capture, confusion still remains as to how manufacturing organisations can identify cost-effective opportunities for its use. Managers view promotional business case estimates as unjustified, simulation based analysis and analytical models as secondary modes of analysis, and case studies are scarce. Further, there is a lack of simple tools to understand how RFID can help to achieve a leaner manufacturing environment, after the use of which practitioners can be routed
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