To date, wireless second generation (2G) driven data applications, such as the wireless Web, which provides Internet access via the wireless phone, has been interesting, novel, and in many ways unactionable. In other words, you can check your stocks – but trading them is cumbersome. Ordering merchandise is possible – but not easy. Checking an online traffic posting is simple – getting a real-time route suggestion out of the traffic jam you are stuck in the middle of is tougher. Early e-mail, gaming, and information resource applications have helped create a general mindset that wireless data is possible, but not yet terribly productive.
Blasphemy in the “are you ready” world? No, just an understanding that to date the wireless industry has spent so much public time marketing (and arguing about) the technology behind wireless data access that we’ve forgotten the golden rule of new technology adoption: market the benefit. If wireless data is going to go mainstream, those framing the debate in the wireless industry have got to make a significant change.
Wireless Advocates Unite
While wireless data seems like old news to those of us entrenched in the wireless industry, it still means almost nothing to most of the world. One doesn’t have to step back from the wireless world very far to see why. The words “wireless” and “data” have pretty ambiguous definitions in and of themselves, shove them together and what have you got? A whole lot of muck.
For many, wireless is still pretty “Star Trekky.” Toss in the word “data” and one can easily conjure up images of charts, graphs and all sorts of other numbers beaming themselves all over the place – not exactly a dream world. Access to even more information, in even more places, in even more ways, without a clear understanding of how one is supposed to INTERACT with it, is not a perceived benefit – it’s a burden. For consumers, wireless data access means nothing if they don’t know why they’d ever want it the first place.
And therein lies the dilemma for wireless data advocates, especially infrastructure providers. We can get people to the data, but so what? Wireless service providers must help consumers find their way to wireless data, but even more importantly they have to find ways to make sure that the benefits of the technology are understood well enough to be a marketable differentiator.
The up-and-coming applications—mobile commerce (m-commerce), unified messaging, and of course all forms of entertainment—stand to mainstream wireless data technology for both business users and the masses, making wireless data both useful and usable. But it isn’t the sole responsibility of those creating these applications to promote the benefits of them. Those of us making the backend solutions and the providers selling services need to be out there whooping it up too.
As wireless industry advocates, I think we’re all in agreement that 3G technology holds the key to creating the environment necessary to create a mobile everything (m-everything) world. So rather than promoting technology for technology’s sake, let’s change the discussion and educate the market on how interacting with wireless data will simplify everyone’s world.
About the Author
John Bartucci is the Director of Wireless Product Management at CommWorks Corporation, a 3Com company. Bartucci was hired at 3Com as the Director of Business Management Operations, and was appointed to his current position in November 2000. CommWorks Corporation was created as a wholly owned subsidiary of 3Com Corporation in December 2000.
Bartucci has more than 13 years of experience in wireless telecommunications, holding positions in software engineering development, engineering management, product management and management consulting. Prior to joining 3Com, Bartucci was a management consultant for a telecommunications group. Prior to that, he worked for Motorola, Inc. for 11 years, managing Wireless Intelligent Network products and software development.
Bartucci has authored and published two papers on Wireless Intelligent Networks; holds a patent on the method for Rekeying Secure Communication Units by Group; and has been featured as a speaker at several Wireless Intelligent Networks conferences.