Wireless market to ripen for channel

The much-hyped wireless market is starting to gain momentum as analysts urge enterprise customers to begin adopting standard operating environments (SOEs) for their mobile workforce applications.

While the consumer and "pop" market is driving mobile applications like Short Message Service (SMS), Internet access to PDAs and so forth, many analysts agree the real revenue streams will come from mobile business applications. Although it's early days yet, Geoff Johnson, research director for Gartner, claims resellers have a window of opportunity to sell consulting and later integration services into this space, as corporate customers merge their new wireless strategy with their existing network infrastructure.

Industry pundits and vendors alike are touting cost saving and productivity as the drivers of a mobile workforce, and Johnson is adamant that companies should begin investing in strategic planning and technology adoption now, with the first challenge being the choice of SOE.

At the top-end of town, Johnson claims early adoption is coming from a few verticals such as banks, airline companies and carriers, but is also applicable across a number of industries from building and construction to transport and couriers.

"But the work has to be done from within the organisation because these guys know what systems the company has, what legacy infrastructure the company has, and where the company is going -- from a business point of view. They also know the internal politics," says Johnson. In this market, third-party consulting services for wireless application and operating environments will be offered by "the usual suspects" such as the Big Five consulting companies.

But with the majority of Australian businesses falling into the middle to lower tier of the spectrum, Johnson says the market is ripe for resellers looking to drop product sales in favour of greener "services and consulting" pastures.

"[Reseller's] business development guys should be out there kicking down doors and saying to their customers ‘hey, have you thought of what standard operating environment you're going to use [for your wireless workforce]?' I think what they'll find is most SMEs are still fairly unaware of how this wireless technology can improve their business. And there's an opportunity for resellers to move into the services side."

"The margins are [dropping] out of box sales and what you'll find is some resellers will start packaging [wireless] solutions across horizontals," says Johnson.

This is echoed by wireless technology vendor Sybase's business development manager Asia-Pacific, Raymond Chiu, who claims the high end of the market demands highly customised solutions, which they don't want their competitors to have. In the SME space, however, Chiu says there is more opportunity for resellers to design and architect mobile solutions.

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