Entering the twilight zone


The industry is predicting a pragmatic approach to IT spending and strategy during 2002. Corporate IT investment will be focused on delivering value for both the organisation and customers, with a higher emphasis on return on investment in a shorter time period. Overall IT directors want low risk, high gain implementations.

CRM and collaborative supply chain projects have been high on the agenda for IT decision-makers over the last two to three years. Early CRM applications – we call them “old” CRM – have not achieved the success that both vendors and customers hoped for. Many industry analysts and commentators have highlighted areas such as lack of integration and lack of adoption by business users as the causes for failed projects.

The hype and panic to “just do CRM” has died down: customers today are focusing on “doing it right”. As a result there is a huge demand for pre-integrated or “real” CRM solutions. This technology represents a customer-orientated and collaborative solution that integrates with all the areas of a company’s supply chain.

What are the benefits? Whenever a customer touches an organisation, that valuable data is not only captured but also integrated with all the other areas of the business. It can then benefit the organisation through enabling improved planning, marketing, sales, fulfilment, delivery and customer service. “Real” CRM delivers true customer life-cycle management. CRM is, after all, not just software; it’s a whole business strategy.

“Real” CRM will undoubtedly be the hot issue for 2002. The long term strategy of the completely collaborative supply chain is still on the radar but CRM, when done properly, can safeguard the valuable assets that businesses cannot afford to lose when economic conditions are poor – customers.

With “real” CRM, organisations can extend traditional CRM capabilities of sales automation, call centre and PRM to include forecasting, billing, shipping and collaborative processes, such as design and planning. For example, a customer could track the exact location of an order, or an enterprise can link its CRM systems with its manufacturing plant or its suppliers to collaboratively design products.

A streamlined and integrated CRM offering of this type will provide a solution that encompasses the entire portfolio of core systems. Out of the box integration provides immediate benefits without the delays, issues and huge costs associated with “old” CRM projects. As a result, vendor offerings must be 100% consistent with the long-term view of creating collaborative supply chains. Those technology providers that deliver flexible Java-based solutions to remove integration issues will succeed in winning mind share and market share in the growing CRM industry.


The demand for richer Internet content will continue to increase, ensuring that subscribers will compete for precious shared bandwidth and still feel frustrated by slow access speeds. Bandwidth, therefore, is and will remain the most pressing problem for full mobile Internet access.

Companies are investing billions in new fibre optics, wireless equipment, hardware and software to increase their capacity to deliver broadband.

The resulting high-speed networks will radically expand the possibilities for using the Internet for education, telemedicine, entertainment and e-commerce. New features allowed by broadband networks include real time video and audio, voice over IP (VoIP), video conferencing, and rapid data downloads with no waiting.

Globalisation and technology are moving the office from fixed locations to airports, aircraft, cars and wherever people need to do business. Wireless access to the Internet will soon be more popular than wireline access.

Reports estimate that within three years, around 1.3bn people will access the Internet via wireless networks.

Broadband fixed wireless solutions will play a key role in situations such as dedicated point-to-point links where users need guaranteed bandwidth and fixed quality-of-service.

Today there are several new standards-based software features including DiffServ-aware Traffic Engineering and Quality of Service enhancements to deliver Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) guaranteed bandwidth services.

MPLS has enormous potential, enabling service providers to offer such potential boons as guaranteed bandwidth services, guaranteed quality of service and virtual leased line services. MPLS guaranteed bandwidth services will appeal to those service providers for whom network bandwidth is a relatively costly and valuable resources, such as those who lease bandwidth, and to service providers who offer premium classes of bandwidth services.


Security is a key area, but to ensure that it is working to its best ability, the processes behind it must work properly and effectively. This in itself is a much wider issue, and involves the complexity of integrating business and technology, as well as a business’s staff and partners. There are many business and technology drivers but in today’s climate there are also many constraints. In a single quarter, companies are now looking for immediate pay back on their investment and spending. Security may be a critical success factor to today’s businesses, however finding the benefit to justify the cost of security may be equally tough. As many businesses are experiencing a change in their matrix model, factors such as cost reducing programmes and supplier value chains are raising the importance of security. With many companies implementing programmes that affect staff in one way or another, inevitably, some employees, whose work no longer requires access to company information and databases, will still have valid passwords. Processes should be put in place to ensure mission critical information remains secure.

Infill efficiency is also increasing, and propositions such as “how and where can I fill in what I presently have in order to make a major improvement” will therefore rise in importance. Businesses will also focus on performing well and fulfilling service propositions. Properly implemented CRM projects will become a key factor, as well as process and functionality growing in importance, as maintaining products and solutions that are quick and rich in ability will be increasingly critical to delivery. Today’s businesses will have to focus on well-tuned processes to ensure top-level delivery and service.

The underlying drivers for all this are the key business areas: increasing the number of new customers, retaining business and existing customers as well as cutting costs. Technology will have to provide well-designed and secure architecture to deliver these capabilities. Issues such as plug and play standards for the likes of XML and Java will also grow in popularity for users. Architectures can talk to each other and continue to be function and process rich – without this, delivery of service will not succeed. Processes will enable business and technology to integrate and enable key technologies to support the overall business and make service levels a success.

There are technology risks as the search to find impressive and capable new business processes do mean that there is an initial outlay of cost and time. Consulting with experts would be beneficial to ensure that not just the best of current processes are selected, but entirely new strategic options are identified too.

There are many major players to watch, but the three big questions that will shape the market sector are: Microsoft – will it get to be successful? Sun – will it continue to own Java as its own property? Will the industry find a way to work with Open Source?


The most significant technological development in 2002 will be the growth of Wireless LANs, which have now become a serious challenger to 3G technology.
UK market research company, Analysys Research, predicts in a new report that there will be more than 90,000 “hot-spot locations” (airports, hotels, cafes) in Western Europe where more than 20m people with WLAN-enabled devices will be able to access the Internet by 2006.

Early predictions from the mobile industry indicated that WAP and 3G would enable business people to access information, for example flight details or quarterly reports, anywhere and at any time. Well, this is already available in Sweden, not through 3G technology, but with WiFi, or IEEE 801.11b, the correct name for the new standard.

All major Swedish airport lounges, conference centres, hotels and other public places are equipped with local WiFi networks, creating “hotspots” that enable users with WiFi enabled devices to connect to the Internet with a bandwidth of 11 Mbps. The user only requires a simple PC-card to plug into their laptop – in fact many new laptops have this as part of the standard configuration – and expansion cards for many handheld devices, such as the Compaq iPAQ, can be purchased for as little as #100. The WiFi frequency band is currently licence-exempt in all of Europe, except the UK. However, operators have plans in place to roll it out once specific UK regulatory issues are finalised.

So how will this impact the 3G proposition? Well, people on the move will soon have access to hot-spots in airports and hotels that offer them unlimited access with data rates up to 200 times faster than initially offered by 3G networks – all at a competitive flat rate.

Wireless “hotspots” should be viewed as an opportunity for the ISPs and mobile operators rather than a threat. It will give them the chance to provide the value-added services with which they are currently struggling.

WiFi technology has the capability to significantly impact upon other areas. Private residents and SMEs are going to be the early adopters.

Rather than fit their home or office with cables, people will choose a wireless LAN over an Ethernet card, especially when the costs are very similar. The new Windows XP has built-in support for WiFi technology and Dell and other manufacturers are equipping their devices with WiFi capabilities.

Large organisations however, will probably wait before they decide to implement this technology as there is still a debate about how secure the WiFi LANs are and also the current limitation to 11 Mpbs in bandwidth could slow them down. However, new breakthroughs in technology will overcome these problems, and a new industry standard (IEEE 801.11g) that will boost capacity to five times the current speed is already approved.


Hackett Benchmarking & Research recently undertook a study of strategic decision-making which found that few companies are exploiting the tools and best practices that would improve the accuracy and usefulness of their planning processes.

The study looked at the practices of nearly 30 Global 2000 companies with revenues ranging from $233m to in excess of $51bn. Only one-quarter of participants considered their planning processes tightly integrated – while most acknowledged that team-based planning processes are becoming the norm. Over the past five years the tools available to employees have enabled them to do more independent analysis – but executives’ use of decision-support technology remains low.

Better use of technology should help. But forecast analysis applications must enable business decision-makers to view a forecast, test different scenarios and save the results without having to deal with the maths associated with forecasting. Ultimately, planning and forecasting must transition from a calendar driven exercise in gamesmanship to a continuous exercise in operational decision making, resource allocation and performance management.

Organisations must move beyond a view of traditional historical reporting, so that decision-makers can take a forward view of the business and identify the future impact of today’s decisions. This will be a key concern for all in 2002.


Just as senior executives in leading edge companies thought they had finally got a strategy to embrace e-business and cross the chasm, up pops another technology. Wireless e-business (We-B), a natural evolution of e-business, is enabled by two key technologies: pervasive devices and mobile digital services. After all the WAP hype it is time to bounce We-B up the corporate priority list into the board room.

Taking advantage of We-B is not without its challenges. Most executives believe their companies will embrace this new technology. But the old thorny questions arise. What, when and how? In a climate of economic and political uncertainty that is creating a cost cutting focus, together with the post WAP hype scepticism, these questions are tough to answer.

However there is some light at the end of the tunnel.

Begin by looking for internal efficiencies. Extending internal e-business systems to the mobile worker can yield savings. These can be invested in further We-B development of, say, consumer services. Thus early implementations are in a controlled internal environment where risks can be minimised, the effect on business processes measured and appropriately improved.

Early prototypes must be sponsored and controlled by line of business executives.

Success will depend upon being able to build a scalable application, integrated with the people and processes. A successful We-B implementation will be the result of choosing the right partner, as well as the right prototype. A prototype must be measured by improvements in the relevant business metrics rather than just the technology considerations. However it must be scalable, secure, manageable and deliver a suitable service level.

Then decisions must be made on whether to scale the prototype for full deployment, and to assess the impact of mobile technology on further enhancements of current performance and the development of new business models where industry restructure could occur.


The publicity surrounding e-learning might lead one to believe that all organisations have adopted e-learning and used it to transform the way their employees learn and grow. The opposite is actually true. There are just a few global organisations that have completely transformed their education offerings into a just-in-time, e-learning environment and actually lead the pack.

Most organisations are still at an early stage of adoption and have only launched e-learning for specific functions (for example, IT) and/or business units in one or more countries.

Key market evaluators such as IDC and Gartner agree that, as the rapid time to market of new skills provides organisations with a critical competitive edge, the potential of e-learning is huge.

In many organisations e-learning accounts for 10% of learning activities and is growing fast. It will replace a significant part of c-learning (classroom) offerings. Leading e-learning organisations will have between 50%-90% of their learning hours e-enabled and their employees will have access to a very rich learning curriculum and take more learning hours than in the traditional environment. Organisations following this method of learning will become more competitive in the long term.

Users need e-learning content that supports their work-related needs.

Thus, existing e-learning curricula in a lot of organisations will be replaced with courses related to business management, soft-skills and new products and services and company specific policies and procedures will be run.

Another trend is that learners expect high quality e-learning courses that make learning more engaging, accessible and fun. High quality programmes need to be designed using a mix of methods. These include live virtual classrooms, interactive learning models, self-assessments, simulations, games and online coaches.

Deloitte Consulting began to focus on e-learning almost two years ago.

Since then the global costs in learning have been reduced by 40% while consultants take 60% more learning hours.

Live virtual classrooms will become a very popular way to train a dispersed workforce in new applications and technologies. The trainer in such classrooms can show Powerpoint presentations but also share software applications and can “take over” screens from participants who have questions when working on exercises.

At the core of e-learning is the self-directed learning culture. Online learning offers the opportunity and the requirement for the learner to become the driver of their own learning goals and experience; e-learners want to tailor a learning strategy specific to their own knowledge, pace, learning style, and specific unique needs.

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