M-business offers the added value of being able to access digital information at any time and from any location. You’ve even given a lecture in which you mentioned jewelry, glasses, and walkmans as possible m-business devices. Does that go a bit too far?
Schikora: A GSM or GPS chip has already been installed or can be installed in each of these objects. For example, GPS chips in walkmans or teddy bears can be used to locate the owner in an emergency. This approach could conceivably help locate missing children, even though some issues of data privacy present some barriers. Transponder technology also enables new approaches. For example, one of the most famous German fashion designers weaves an RFID transponder into his products to protect against counterfeiting in Asia. The transponder contains all the information that proves the originality and authenticity of the product.
Which industries have already used m-business services from SBS?
Schikora: Right now, m-commerce is flourishing in Italy, in particular with a large telecommunications company. M-travel is being used in various business areas at Siemens, and we’re negotiating with a large manufacturer of automobiles. The target group for m-brokerage and m-banking is obvious – various large business banks in Germany and Europe already use this service. Mobile field service is used internally by Siemens Medical and externally by diverse industries, including service providers for elevators, ATMs, and IT services. Banks and insurance companies lead the field with the mobile sales force. In any case, the breadth of the industries involved is quite large.
Where do you see the greatest opportunities?
Schikora: In the short and middle term, mobile field service offers the greatest opportunity because the ROI here is faster and easier to measure, and given today’s economic climate, ROI colors everything. In the long term, I see a lot of opportunity for the mobile office. By that, I mean a virtual desk that employees – in the sales force or in any other department – can use to transfer information to a company’s back-end systems over any channel.
Is mobile processing of business transactions and the management of customer data also conceivable for the public sector – something similar to e-government?
Schikora: Absolutely. SBS just worked on a mobile business project in Italy – mobile police.
What phase characterizes m-business right now, and what developments do you expect soon?
Schikora: Right now we’re in the B2B phase. In this phase, companies use mobile applications to improve further processes that have already been optimized with e-business. The next phase is M2M – where machines (computers) will communicate with each other. The best example here is telematics. For example, the onboard computer in a car will be able to communicate with external telematics systems on the road and with computers at the manufacturer or dealer.
To clarify developments, can you provide some figures on revenue, users, and the rate of increase?
Schikora: We expect m-business to save about $230 million globally by 2004. The opportunity arises from an investment of about $150 million. These numbers do not include the intangible benefits that cannot easily be expressed in figures. The project with the Italian police involves about € 70 million.
How to you think that the expected UMTS boom will affect m-business? Will future users of UMTS use the new technology for m-business?
Schikora: UMTS will certainly give a new push to mobile applications, but it won’t create a true boom.
Is m-business the motor for innovation in 2003, or is it still music of the future?
Schikora: M-business will function in a certain sense as a motor for innovation in the second half of 2003. But, since m-business does not really involve the long-sought killer applications, we’ll be able to observe a continual increase in sales numbers.
SAP recently put a new technology product on the market, SAP Mobile Engine, a software platform for mobile business applications that is based upon open standards. These platform is an important contribution to SAP´s Mobile Business solution mySAP Mobile Business. How do you regard the prospects for its success?
Schikora: In my opinion, the chances for SAP Mobile Engine are very good since it’s one of the most mature products on the market.
SAP and Siemens Business Services operate a global service partnership. What new opportunities do you see for this partnership in the age of m-business?
Schikora: M-business is more of an extension of existing processes and applications to mobile users than a completely new perspective.
What’s your personal motto?
Schikora: Live and let live; after all, life is beautiful.