PayPal has announced a deal which will see it become a major player in the world of mobile commerce, or so it hopes. The driver behind which is the hope to find new, faster and more convenient way to part us and our money.
Rumours also abound around the iPhone 5 and what it may or may not contain in terms of mobile payment capabilities, whilst Google already has Google Wallet and AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile offer Isis Mobile Wallet.
Right now in the UK mobile commerce can be seen as something of a novelty available at just a few retailers, but the combination PayPal’s announcement and the involvement of the major players, at this early stage, to me highlights that mobile commerce is a new technology wave and ultimately is something which many of us will need to include in our mobile strategy, sooner rather than later.
This view is strengthened by research conducted in Singapore, by many considered to be at the forefront of mobile commerce, where in 2011 “Mobile shopping comprised about a quarter (23%) of all online shopping in 2011, nearly six times its share (4%) of the online shopping market in 2010”.
Many enterprises developing a mobile strategy right now could make one of two mistakes 1) ignoring mobile commerce or 2) getting bogged down in the technicalities between vendors and offerings in the market. To me, these could both be equally as fatal. The best advice I could give is to acknowledge mobile commerce could be the next big thing but not to let it take over your mobile strategy.
To me mobile commerce and the applications available to enable it need to be thought of as any application, your mobile strategy must involve the ability to integrate to and work with these applications but really the ins and outs should be immaterial. With this sort of strategy any mobile device from a tablet to a smartphone can become so much more than just a point of sale or a mobile payment device.
This takes us back to a subject I have written a lot about – mobile mash up. By this I mean that successful enterprise mobile applications should be able to take information from, and input information to, any enterprise application and present it to a mobile device of the enterprises choosing in a logical manner on a single screen.
Let’s look at an example of the way this sort of mash up could help. The enterprise launches a mobile app for employees to log expenses for approval. The employee takes a client for lunch and uses the mCommerce application to pay the bill, this could then link to the ERP system which generates a PO which is sent to the employees manager for approval. If approved the ERP generates a payment to the employee if rejected the ERP docks the expense from the employees next wage packet or raises an alert.
The possibilities are limitless and given that 38% of industry leaders cited improving workforce productivity as the overarching objective of their mobility projects I think it is something which we are going to see become more prevelant.
In these cases the mobile commerce enabler need only be seen as one of the applications which the front end mobile application ties in to meaning that transactions could be logged in, for example, Google Wallet, the ERP and the CRM. I believe that this level of flexibility is key to mobile strategies and only when using a MEAP, which allows this flexibility, can enterprises consume and make the most of every new technology wave which comes their way, which in the world of mobility seems daily.