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Alert-based systems to offer breakthrough.

The success of the wireless Web, while inevitably assured, has been constrained by infrastructure issues and the ergonomic limitations of the mobile handset. While wireless data networks and data-capable phones are flourishing, wireless data usage is not commonplace. Only a few applications have become prevalent to date.

For example, DTMF tones have enabled server-side applications, such as voice mail and bank-by-phone. Short message service (SMS) allows users to send short text messages between themselves or from a website or application. These applications are successful because they pass three acid tests:

* users see a direct benefit from their use of the service;

* users can quickly learn how to use the service; and

* the service is time-efficient to use.

The wireless Web experience, on the other hand, scores poorly against the three acid tests, especially the third one. Users struggle with the phone's inherent user interface weaknesses (small screen and reduced keyboard). The entire experience has devolved into the obtaining of curious-but-not-business-important data, such as ring tones, animated characters, horoscopes, weather, news and stock quotes. Thus, the majority of a mobile phone's value remains in its voice capabilities, leaving an enormous opportunity on the data side to be unleashed.


The wireless industry must advance the following areas in order to make data applications phone-centric:

* Change the paradigm for wireless data applications to suit the needs and expectations of the mobile user by adopting push technology in place of browsing.

* Eliminate users' need to interactively search for information by having them set alerts that trigger information to be pushed to them when their criteria is met. Alert agents can then work on behalf of users, even when they are disconnected.

* Present only information that is relevant to users. This decreases the amount of information they have to read and increases its value. The alert notification should only contain the information that changed and/or the link to the data.

* Decrease users' airtime costs. Presenting only relevant information and using push technology will assist in this.

Beyond these changes, applications need to be more accessible by mobile users. They must gain access to websites with out having to type long website names, since typing on a phone is difficult and cumbersome. Setting alerts while mobile and receiving notifications from corporate websites and applications will address all of these issues.


Expect to see a number of initiatives utilizing user-set alerts in the near term. For example, consider the following:

A mobile sales professional carries only a mobile phone (no pagers, no PDAs, no PC). While out of the office, her customer's order has been delayed. Her office updates this status on its intranet site.

Without wireless data services utilizing user-set alerts, she might be unaware of the change, placing her in an awkward situation with the customer that has access to this information. Alternatively, she would have to call into the office to check the status of the order on the Web, which is time-consuming and often not practical.

With an alert-based system, she could use an interface on her phone to locate the intranet site that contained the status of the order. By viewing the parsed list of elements on the site, she would set the trigger on the order status field, indicating that any change from "standard" should cause a notification to be sent. The server agent would then continually interrogate the selected Web content on the Web page.

If there were no change to the order status field, the agent would continue to monitor. When and if the condition was met, her phone would ring, and she would be presented with a text message and a click-through URL. This would enable her to know immediately of any changes in the order. In the event that she was out of coverage or her phone was turned off, the service would maintain the notification and deliver it after the phone came back into coverage.

Scores of such alerts are likely to be set by individual mobile users to address a variety of circumstances, such as flight delays, price reductions, sale notifications, inventory changes and updated job orders. Thus, it is likely that alert-based systems will trigger the first killer wireless data applications, enabling mobile users to determine what information they want delivered--by setting alerts simply and quickly from their phones. This will eliminate form factor and other inherent limitations of mobile phones that have, to date, proved barriers to pervasive wireless data services use.

Fridman is CEO of Broadbeam Corp., Princeton, NJ.
COPYRIGHT 2001 Nelson Publishing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:Technology Information
Comment:Infrastructure issues that have acted as a constraint to the development of wireless Web technology are reviewed.
Author:Fridman, Boris
Publication:Communications News
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2001
Previous Article:Publications.
Next Article:E-business & the enterprise.

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