Emerging e-business applications
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A handful of high value e-business applications- e-gaming, e-logistics, e-banking, and e-tourism-will take
e-Technology and applicationsMr Steve Beason, Executive Director, IT, at the Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC), said the Club's vision is to be a world leader in the provision of horse racing, sporting and betting entertainment, and
In a move from the traditional operator, cash-based mode of betting, more revenue is now being brought into the HKJC through account-based, wireless, or e-channels, Mr Beason said. "It's a huge shift from a direct cash list type of transaction services and it also costs one-fifth of our operator-based, cash-based transactions, so there are big savings for us through these direct channels."
Mobile betting devices are the area in which Mr Beason believes the HKJC will excel-they are currently selling four times faster than other channels. The Club uses a proprietary SIM card, of which there are 40,000 bringing in about HK$6 million a week. Mobile digital certificates (m-certs) are the way of the future, Mr Beason believes. "I hope that comes along, that the m-cert is embedded in the majority of handsets. I do believe you're going to use your phone as your wallet."
Another channel he sees as being very successful is the PDA that can be used as a phone. For their Internet channel the HKJC uses PKID-certs (public-key infrastructure for e-certificates, the equivalent of identity cards in the online world), provided by Hong Kong Post. "The typical PC e-cert has a hard time running on some phones but is capable of being run on some of the newer processors for pocket PDAs," Mr Beason said.
He aims to supply information, such as racing odds, morning track work and data from past races, to all the different devices-PCs, televisions, and mobile phones. And in a bid to make the area more interesting, the Club intends to track jockeys as they race around the course with GPS-like technology. "It will be like a video game and will personalize your interaction with the sport," Mr Beason said. "We're also looking at wireless interactive terminals, so you'll have all the live video and audio information to allow you to make bets-and you can order food and drink to the table you're sitting at."
The whole idea of making the different channels the HKJC is developing more interactive and engaging is to ensure they are more popular than "sitting in front of your TV and calling up an operator on the phone," Mr Beason said. "Before I can say that we don't need any more operators, I need to provide a very content-rich environment for people who want to use mobile devices, and that's why we're looking at virtualization."
e-Logistics"The air cargo industry is one of the fastest-and one of the few-growing industries in these recession times in Hong Kong," Professor Y V Hui from CityU's Department of Management Sciences, told the panel. This year,
"Current industry trends are to interrelate e-commerce and e-business in the transport industry through online business processes and consolidation. Industry is looking for an efficient, reliable and cost-saving way to facilitate logistic services as well as business processes," Professor Hui said. Big international companies can deal with these trends by setting up their own servers, but
The solution, Professor Hui believes, is an information infrastructure for the air cargo industry-a logistics e-community network, through which partners would be connected via the Internet. The operating platforms would include a management platform for e-business, a market platform for e-commerce, and an information exchange platform to enable the operation of the e-commerce and e-business activities. For air cargo logistics, the e-community platform serves as a hub.
"However, the platform is more than a hub," Professor Hui explained. "It also allows forwarders as well as other users to manage multiple supply chains from one or more than one shipment and even partnering with other agents." While such a platform would be an asset for the
CityU's Centre of Cyber Logistics is participating in the
Deployment of Internet banking systemsHSBC has 32 million customers worldwide, 190,000 shareholders, has 7,000 offices in 81 countries, and was named 2002 Global Bank of the Year by the Banker magazine. "Our IT philosophy is that we're pretty much a control-our-own-destiny organization," said Mr Malcolm Gray, Senior Executive, IT, HSBC. "With 14,000 IT staff around the world and 8,000 developers, we tend to build group solutions that are standardized. However, things are getting more complicated, so we develop and have meetings with third parties rather more than we did in the past."
The deployment of an IT banking system has to be part of an overall channel strategy and the most difficult part of Internet banking is to have a conversation with the customer. "I can't say we're at the stage of having a conversation with the customer with the technology and tools deployed at the moment," he said.
HSBC's First Direct call centre bank in the
Fulfilment is a problem faced by all banks moving towards online banking, Mr Gray believes. "Everybody knows that once you have Internet banking or any other Net service, it's like having a searchlight on the back office." The question of fulfilment from the both the customer service side and the IT side also remains to be resolved. Traditionally, these groups have tended not to be part of a seamless process, where one part holds up the other. Rather, IT tends to measure IT and customer services measure themselves in different ways, so the current aim is to have some alignment between the two. "The difficulty from the IT side is that customer services is one of the systems that is furthest away from your control, and a lot of variables are involved. It's a matter of complications as well as complexity," he said.
Potential disintermediation of travel agenciesHow travellers perceive travel agencies in the era of the Internet was the topic of the address by Dr Rob Law, Associate Professor in the
The popularity of tourism and travel sites on the Internet, researchers in the field has led to a debate on the future role of travel agencies. In view of the importance to
According to the respondents, travel agencies are superior to the Internet in terms of providing a human touch and personal service. However, they were also of the opinion that travel agencies are more business-biased and may not necessarily be customer-oriented. On the other hand, online travel agencies are convenient, flexible and offer many more choices.
Mobile life, the hype and the first hard facts"Mobile commerce is not just the extension of e-commerce to wireless platforms, it's changing to a business paradigm," said Professor Christer Carlsson, from the Institute for Advanced Management Systems Research/Mobile Commerce Research Centre at
"It's not enough to build m-commerce beachheads on technology and hope that the technology will generate the value," Professor Carlsson concluded. "The real value of m-commerce will come from what it creates in terms of changing the limits of the possible in the structures of everyday life."