Mobile computing solutions are also being applied to B2B and supply chain relationships. Such solutions enable organizations to respond faster to supply chain disruptions by proactively adjusting plans or by shifting resources related to critical supply chain events as they occur. With the increased interest in collaborative commerce comes the opportunity to use wireless communication to collaborate along the supply chain. For this to take place, integration is needed.
An integrated messaging system is at the center of B2B communications. By integrating the mobile terminal into the supply chain, it is possible to make mobile reservations of goods, check availability of a particular item in the warehouse, order a particular product from the manufacturing department, or provide security access to obtain confidential financial data from a management information system.
One example of an integrated messaging system is wireless telemetry, which combines wireless communications, vehicle monitoring systems, and vehicle location devices. This technology makes possible large-scale automation of data capture, improved billing timeliness and accuracy, less overhead than with the manual alternative, and increased customer satisfaction through service responsiveness. For example, vending machines can be kept replenished and in reliable operation by wirelessly polling inventory and service status continually to avert costly machine downtime.
Mobile devices can also facilitate collaboration among members of the supply chain. There is no longer any need to call a partner company and ask someone to find certain employees who work with your company. Instead, you can contact these employees directly, on their mobile devices.
By enabling sales force employees to type orders straight into the ERP while at a client’s site, companies can reduce clerical mistakes and improve supply chain operations. By allowing them to check production schedules and inventory levels, and to access product configuration and available-to-promise/capacity-to-promise (ATP/CTP) functionality to obtain real-time delivery quotes, they empower their sales force to make more competitive and realistic offers to customers. Today’s ERP systems tie into broader supply chain management solutions that extend visibility across multiple tiers in the supply chain. Mobile supply chain management (mSCM) empowers the workforce to leverage these broader systems through inventory management and ATP/CTP functionality that extend across multiple supply chain partners and take into account logistics considerations.
A large number of applications exist that support consumers and provide personal services. As an example, consider the situation of a person going to an international airport. Tasks such as finding the right check-in desk, checking for delayed flights, waiting for lost luggage, and even finding a place to eat or the nearest washroom can be assisted by mobile devices.
In the handheld segment of the gaming market, Nintendo has been the long-time leader. In contrast, Nintendo has shown minimal interest in online or mobile games. Here, Sega has capitalized on the popularity of games such as Sonic the Hedgehog to garner 2.5 million Japanese subscribers for its mobile games and entertainment services. In Japan, where millions of commuters kill time during long train rides, cell phone games have become a cultural phenomenon.
With more than one billion cell phones in use today, the potential audience for mobile games is substantially larger than the market for other platforms, Playstation and Gameboy included. Because of the market potential, Nokia has decided to enter the mobile gaming world, producing not only the phone/console but also the games that will be delivered on memory cards. It seeks to develop and market near-distance multiplayer gaming (over Bluetooth) and wide area gaming.
In July of 2001 Ericsson, Motorola, Nokia, and Siemens established the Mobile Games Interoperability Forum (MGIF) ( mgif.org) to define a range of technical standards that will make it possible to deploy mobile games across multi-game servers, wireless networks, and over different mobile devices. Microsoft is moving into this field as well.