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Use of mobile technology

The Adoption/Use Of Mobile Technology To Maximize The Intangible Business Benefits /Customer Relationship Management

Introduction

World is witnessing the emergence of a connected, mobile society, with a variety of information sources and means of communication available at work. The enthusiasm for mobile technologies is growing. Dec 2008, Ofcom has officially announced that the UK population of 60 million has 70 million mobile phones i.e. 117 percent of general population). In addition, the features offered by these devices are also improving. Newer phones have the ability to connect wirelessly to the internet. Hand-held computers, otherwise known as personal digital assistants (PDAs), are also becoming more widespread (BBC 2004). These PDAs are now commonly distributed by employers who are eager to keep their workforce productive whilst on the move. Laptops, though already a well-established technology, have gained new appeal when combined with the connectivity of newer mobile phones - a laptop can now use a mobile phone or mobile broadband as a means to dial-up the internet and in doing so offer a truly mobile web experience. In addition, mobile commerce as the second wave of e-commerce is also penetrating into various aspects of our life. As a consequence, a rapidly increasing number of organizations are making substantial investments in this new area to facilitate their customer relationship management and other related services.

Background:

The rapid pace of adoption and advancement in mobile technologies creating opportunities for new and innovative services provided through mobile devices. The emergence of mobile technology is expected to drastically affect a number of industries and to impact their strategic management (Barnes, 2002). Studies have shown that the use of mobile technologies can bring substantial cost savings (Mukhopadhyay et al., 1995; Buhalis, 2004) and can positively influence the financial performance of organizations (Hitt and Brynjolfsson, 1996; Bharadwaj, 2000; Santhanam and Hartono, 2003; Melville et al., 2004). Prior literature also suggests that Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) can benefit organizations by enabling better customer services (Quinn and Baily, 1994), providing superior product quality (Bakos and Treacy, 1986; Ives and Learmonth, 1984), and creating competitive advantages (Griffiths and Finlay, 2004; Sethi and King, 1994).

However, in the last few years, a lot of attention has been paid specifically to the potential impact of mobile technology on customer relation management and other related services. Consequently the research on mobile applications has started to focus more on the consumers' expectations and intentions than on technological potential for organisations. Day to day customer relationship has been facilitated by adopting features and different applications of mobile technologies (see table 1) Organisations are using these features to build better customer relationship than ever before. For example, SMS, feature of mobile phone is now become an integral part of the mass communications mix (Bates et al., 2002) offering an alternative channel of communication (for instance, the news of the SARS outbreak in China broke first by mobile phone users' text messaging) and entertainment (such as voting on American Idol by SMS).

Table 1

Key mobile service technologies

Service

Description

SMS (Short Message Service)

Allows text messages of up to 160 characters to be sent to and from mobile handsets via a store-and-forward system. Although a large proportion of this is based on person-to-person communication and voicemail, other services such as news, stock prices and SMS chat are growing in popularity. Around500 billion messages were sent in 2001.

MMS (Multimedia Message SERVICE)

This is a new messaging service supporting graphics and audio currently on trial in Europe. It plans to build on the success of SMS.

CB (Cell Broadcast)

Not to be confused with citizen's band (CB) radio; this is another text messaging service. However, unlike SMS, CB provides a one-to-many broadcast facility that is ideal for push-based information services such as news feeds.

SAT (SIM Application Toolkit)

This allows applications to be sent via CB or SMS in order to update SIM cards, e.g. for downloading ringing tones. Data security and integrity are standard features making it a popular choice for mobile banking. The WAP 2.0 standard will be compatible with SAT.

WAP (Wireless Application Protocol)

WAP is a universal standard for bringing Internet-based content and advanced value-added services to wireless devices such as phones and PDAs. In order to integrate as seamlessly as possible with the Web, WAP sites are hosted on Web servers and use the same transmission protocol as Web sites, that is hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP). The most important difference between Web and WAP sites is the application environment. Whereas a Web site is coded mainly using hypertext mark up language (HTML), WAP sites use Wireless Mark up Language (WML), based on eXtensible Mark up Language (XML).

MExE (Mobile Station application execution environment)

This standard is aimed at incorporating Java into the mobile phone and providing full application programming. MExE is compatible with WAP but incorporates many other sophisticated services including voice recognition and positioning technology.

J2ME (Java 2 Micro Edition)

A version of the Java language designed for small devices. This is somewhat similar to MExE.

iMode (information mode)

iMode uses a variant of HTML for the provision of Web pages. iMode enabled Web sites utilize pages that are written in compact HTML (cHTML) a subset of HTML 4.0 designed with regard to the restrictions of the wireless infrastructure.

iAppli (information application)

From January 2001, an upgraded version of iMode was provided in Japan to premium customers. The new service, iAppli, is based on Java. Applications can be downloaded and stored, thereby eliminating the need to continually connect to a Web site. Further, constantly changing information is automatically updated at set times, e.g. stock prices or weather forecasts.

PDA Web Clipping

This technology allows popular PDA devices, such as Palm and Handspring, to access dynamic and updated HTML content via a modem. Web clipping is used in combination with applications stored on the device.

PDA Syncing

This allows PDAs to store or cache content without the use of a wireless modem. Content is updated when the user synchronises (‘syncs') or connects their PDA to the Internet via computer connection.

Taken from Barnes (2002); cited in Sheng et al. (2005)

Therefore, as a common user of mobile technologies and a business management student (and a future manager) it is very important for me to understand the potential benefits of mobile technologies and the role of their uses in maximizing intangible benefits / customer relationship management. This research would facilitate my coming professional career because studies show that the future of organizations is mobile where success and survival of managers is dependent on the skills and knowledge of these technologies. In addition, using this research I will bring out the key concerns that, how organization can take control of the mobile technology opportunity in order to maximize the intangible benefits (such as; customer relations, response to customer) or will the tail continue to wag the dog? How real, measurable intangible business benefits could be maximized by adding mobile technologies in the working practices of an enterprise?

Literature Review

Studies discussed the role of Mobile technologies states that; adoption/use of mobile technologies may create two kinds of impact on business operations. The first is to facilitate communication among employee, customer and supplier. Through the enhancement of communicating efficiency and information timeliness, mobile technology can increase organizational productivity and profitability. The second is to re-vitalizes business processes through changing data access patterns. For example, insurance agents are able to use mobile technology to provide timely services.

However, there are studies which presume the use of mobile technologies rather a case of technological adoption for organization. Cooper & Zmud (1990) explains that, all organizations are not equally inclined to develop and deploy new Technology. The adoption / uses of mobile technologies are largely governed by factors related to overall organizational attitudes, culture and mainly strategic needs. Ginsberg & Venkatraman (1992) have suggested that different managers and organizations adopt different attitudes towards technology adoption, depending on its perceived usefulness in the context of their work, and on organizational norms regarding the acceptance of new technology. However, other studies outlines that, the use of technology and need may cause an ‘interactive innovation' governed by ‘technology-push' and ‘need-pull' forces (Rothwell, 1994). Firms are willing to adopt technologies which can enhance their competitive advantage. Recognizing the benefits from using a technological means can be considered a ‘push' force stemming from technology (Munro and Noori, 1988). The perceived benefits (e.g. time saving and cost reduction) of a new technology tend to ‘push' organizations to use it at work (Munro and Noori, 1988; Chau and Tam, 2000). Market performance gap often occurs when suppliers cannot satisfy buyers' needs. The desire to solve a particular market performance gap can be considered as a ‘pull' force derived from need (Munro and Noori, 1988). Thus, the performance gap between expected and perceived performance is likely to ‘pull' organization' need to use a certain features of new mobile technologies.

In addition, quite a few studies have investigated the relationship between information technology and the intangible business benefits such as; improved customer service quality (Ryan and Harrison, 2000; Cooper et al., 2000; Quinn and Baily, 1994; Pfeiffer, 1992) Improved organizational efficiency (Pfeiffer, 1992; Bakos and Treacy, 1986) Quicker response to customers Anderson et al., 2003) Deeper knowledge and understanding of customers (Anderson et al., 2003; Cooper et al., 2000) Improved decision-making ability (Ryan and Harrison, 2000) Superior product quality (Ryan and Harrison, 2000; Mukhopadhyay et al., 1995; Bakos and Treacy, 1986; Ives and Learmonth, 1984) knowledge/information management and sharing (Kraemer and Dedrick, 2002; Quinn and Baily, 1994; Mukhopadhyay et al., 1995) Improved coordination/relationships with partners (Buhalis, 2004; Mukhopadhyay et al., 1995; Pfeiffer, 1992) Other forms of competitive advantages (Melville et al., 2004; Griffiths and Finlay, 2004; Sethi and King, 1994; Bakos and Treacy, 1986; Pfeiffer, 1992; Porter and Millar, 1985). However, the prior literature has focused mainly on the ‘what' question—that is, what is the impact of technologies on organizations. The ‘how' question, that is, how the adoption/uses of technologies maximize intangible benefits for organizations, is still under-explored. Further, to assess the impact of a specific resource, the ‘how' approach is more appropriate than the ‘what' approach in assessing firm performance (Mooney et al., 1995; Ray et al., 2004; cited in Sheng et al., 2005). This is because a resource changes the processes in an organization, which in turn changes its competitive potential. Hence, the ‘how' approach provides a deeper and more insightful understanding of how a resource helps an organization to perform better. On the other hand, the ‘what' approach may assess firm performance which is the outcome of the aggregate effect of multiple business processes supported by various resources (Soh and Markus, 1995; cited in Sheng et al., 2005).

Moreover, it is quite evident that the main focus of the research is on exploring the intangible business benefits through IT (information technology) and lacked in the details of exclusively the relationship between adoption/uses of mobile technologies and the maximization of intangible benefits. Therefore, this research will investigate the uses of mobile technologies using how approach, that is, how the uses of different features and applications of mobile technologies can maximize the intangible benefits such as Customer service, company image, employee satisfaction, efficiency and effectiveness for an organization.

Aim

The adoption/uses of different features and application of Mobile technologies maximize the intangible benefits in an organization

Research Questions And Objectives

Use of mobile technology is tactical or strategic tool

Mobile technology is an additional or core competences

What proportion of your IT budget us consumed by mobile technologies?

Use of black berry

What benefits mobile technology could offer?

Are you planning to spread more budgets on mobile technologies (from IT budget)

Business Benefit

Moving to a more flexible or mobile business could improved employee efficiency and productivity

What do you think with the help of mobile technologies quality of customer service will improve?

Response to customer request

The use of mobile technologies will enable employees to operate in fewer physical locations and less office space will be required

Methodology

Research Approach

I will use the case study approach for this research, because the aim of this research is to study the adoption of mobile technology to maximize the intangible business benefits where few studies exist, case study approach is well-suited for this research. A case study is an ‘empirical inquiry that investigates a contemporary phenomenon within its real-life context, especially when the boundaries between the phenomenon and context are not clearly evident' (Yin, 1994, p. 13). Case study allows the researchers to understand the nature and complexity of the process that is taking place and answer the ‘how' and ‘why' questions (Sheng et al., 2005). Therefore, it is a suitable methodology for this research. The focus of attention is on a particular organisation PayPoint. PayPoint is a leading branded payment collection network used primarily for cash payments of bills and services and prepayments for mobile telephones and energy meters. The list of Customers of PayPoint includes the big names in household such as; such as British Gas, BT, BBC TV Licensing, and EDF London Energy. These customers depend on PayPoint to make reliable payment collections on a daily basis, and the systems that support these operations are mission-critical to both PayPoint and its customers. Around-the-clock availability became the top priority for PayPoint because the systems supporting the payments were now not only critical to the company itself, but also to its customers.

Therefore, it is very important for PayPoint to use mobile technologies to maximise the intangible business benefits.

In addition, as a part time employee of PayPoint it will be easy for me to conduct interviews and acquire permission to get access to relevant data.

Research Method

There are two types of research method i.e. Quantitative and Qualitative. According to Collis and Hussey (2003) the Quantitative research is the objective in nature and concentrates on measuring phenomena, so therefore it involves collecting and analyzing numerical data and applying the statistical tests. The Qualitative research is the subjective in nature and involves examining and reflecting on perceptions in order to gain an understanding of social and human activities. The qualitative research provides information about the social and human side of an issue so it is therefore related to individual social norms, gender roles, ethnicity, religion, behavior, belief, opinions, emotions, relationships. Therefore, the research method I will be using is, Qualitative. My research is on the use of mobile technology in PayPoint, therefore, I will include carefully structured and detailed interviews with IT managers (if possible also with IT directors) and CIOs. In addition, I will also include the 10 to 15 members of sales teams from Paypoint in interviews, because these individuals are the one providing customer services, responding to customer queries, and spend most of their official time in the field. Their perspective will facilitate the examination of research objective such as; what do you think with the help of mobile technologies quality of customer service will improve? How mobile technologies could facilitate the strategic objectiveof PayPoint timely response to customer request? Will the use of mobile technologies enable employees to operate in fewer physical locations and less office space will be required?

Data Collection

There are two types of data collection i.e. primary data and secondary data.

The primary data is collected through the observations, interviews and questionnaires and such data not already exists. The secondary data consist of raw data which already exists. Raw date can be find in different books, internet, library websites, newspapers, magazines and Journals, letters, etc.

The methods of data collection for this research will include both types. For primary data collection, I will conduct interviews as mentioned above with both managers and the sales team. Moreover, I will also include the financial performance to examine the budget allocated for mobile technologies.

In order to collect the secondary data I will study different books, internet articles, electronic database, letters, newspapers, magazines, and Journals (for list of Journals and magazines see Appendix II).

Limitation

A frequent criticism of case study methodology is that its dependence on a single case renders it incapable of providing a generalizing conclusion. Yin (1993) presented Giddens' view that considered case methodology "microscopic" because it "lacked a sufficient number" of cases. Hamel (Hamel et al., 1993) and Yin (1984, 1989a, 1989b, 1993, 1994) forcefully argued that the relative size of the sample whether 2, 10, or 100 cases are used, does not transform a multiple case into a macroscopic study. The goal of the study should establish the parameters, and then should be applied to all research. In this way, even a single case could be considered acceptable, provided it met the established objective.

Moreover, this research is limited to exploring intangible business benefits and it could be difficult to accumulate all the relevant data in terms of time and word limit. The qualitative data could be misleading such as; interviews and surveys highly dependent on honestly given answers by the participants, however, it has been widely observed that, participants are not 100 per cent honest, therefore the existing literature and theories will be use.

The Resources Needed And The Ethical Implication Associated With The Proposal

The decision to select this topic was very critical. There were few areas of interest like Islamic banking, domestic technologies, market orientation, and mobile technologies. Initially I spend a lot of time on Islamic banking; however, after one failure, the guidance from the supervisor was very helpful in order to select the right research topic and write this proposal in the end. The recourses needed for this research are easily accessible, like journals, books, and magazine (list of journal is also included which are easily available through internet). The data collection and interviews is the plus point as the organization PayPoint mangers are familiar and as an ex-employee of the company - up to some extent - I can also judge the truthfulness of answers given by the managers and sale team. There are no financial constraints indentified up to this level, as most of the resources are easily and freely available through Athens and college library.

International journal of interactive mobile technologies

Communications of the ACM

Information Technology Journal

IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication

Academy of Management Journal

International Journal of Computational Intelligence and Applications

International Journal of Computers, Communications and Control

Journal of Management Information Systems

MIS Quarterly

Journal of Research and Practice in Information Technology

Academy of Information and Management Sciences Journal

Australasian Journal of Information Systems

International Journal of Cooperative Information Systems

International Journal of Information Management

Electronic Journal of e-Government

Open Access IS Journals

Information Technology Journal

Journal of Research and Practice in Information Technology

International Journal of Applied Management and Technology

Information Research

Scandinavian Journal of Information Systems

Journal of Community Informatics

Journal of Digital Information

Journal of Information Systems and Small Business

Journal of Information Systems and Technology Management

International Journal of Information Technology

Conclusion

IN Process

Reference:

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