Online while in the woods! Fiction, future or reality?Written by Lisa Schmeckpeper
Staying "available" and "in contact" with your clients is an important part of good Customer Service. But sometimes this can be hard to do as we juggle our personal lives along with our business obligations. Being a Webmistress is nearly a 24-hour-a-day job for me, just about same as being a parent, except that on Web, you arenít expected to fix lunches. My clients sometimes need close attention and nurturing during development of their projects, some need constant attention, and they all need (and deserve) my immediate and total attention if and when something goes wrong.
Let me ask you this....
Have you ever wished you could be at park with rest of your family on a nice Saturday afternoon if only you didn't have to wait in office for that important email to arrive? I have, and I didnít enjoy it one bit.
Have you put off going on a day trip or even a full vacation because you can't leave your computer and your self-obligated contact with your clients that long? I have, and I didnít like that, either.
Have you ever tried logging on to Net while you were deep in woods? I have, and now Iím not quite so chained to my home-office computer, thanks to my Sprint PCS Wireless Web Phone & Connectivity Kit :-)
This is a VERY neat piece of technology, people, and somehow Sprint has made it really easy to use. In fact, I'd label it as almost "dummy proof." (And I can almost hear my newsletterís proofreader squealing with delight, almost 2,000 miles away.) I had myself set up and surfing within 10 minutes of opening box. And most of that time was spent installing software on my laptop. The actual process of getting online is as simple as connecting a cable from your laptop to your phone and logging on as usual.
Honestly, that's all there is to it! I didn't even have to mess with my dialup settings because PCS Dialer software that came with it made "mirror" connection settings for me. All I had to do was select from a drop-down box on computer screen which modem I wanted to use. So now, instead of choosing MSN as I normally would have done, I chose MSN (Wireless). Within seconds I was connected and surfing.
The ability to be almost anywhere--beach, mountain, forest or street cafe, and ALSO be "on Net" brings about a new feeling of personal freedom (even with your laptop in your backpack). You don't have to be chained to your PC in order to provide first-class, immediate service to your customers. After years of conscientiously putting clientsí needs first, a burnout is almost to be expected, isn't it? Perhaps you're feeling same thing--burnt out.
Just think how you are going to feel in a few more months when summer is in full swing and everyone else is having fun and you're still sitting there staring at your computer screen, working, or--more depressing--waiting needlessly for an email to arrive through those land-loving phone lines.
There was actually another good reason--besides giving me more personal freedom and still offering good customer service--for purchasing Web Connectivity Kit for my PCS phone. There are times when I am visiting a client (or potential client) at their place of business and I'd like to show them something on Net. I don't like to have to ask them if there is a phone line available that I can use. Most often there isnít, or it would become a big hassle to make a phone line available. Any good businessperson knows that causing a "hassle" for a potential client is a sure way to make a bad impression, and just one bad impression tends to last a lot longer than most good impressions.
THE LANDSCAPE IS CHANGING, ARE YOU READY?Written by Miguel Fiol
As if Nasdaq news weren't bad enough, Forrester Research (FORR) said most Internet retailers would be out of business by 2001. Retailers find themselves being forced from market by depleting bank accounts and saturated markets. The story quoted Mark Doll, a consultant for startup companies at Ernst & Young, who said, "There are 30,000 e-tailers out there, and probably 25,000 will have to go away."
While alarming to many, this consolidation serves as a fundamental benchmark to change. Or a wake-up call for your company. The scope of countryside is changing, not only in focus but in infrastructure and applications. So how are companies who find themselves pinched in saturated landscape suppose to survive, much less thrive? A look at future of Internet should provide some insight.
VoIP - Voice-over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a simple idea: utilize inexpensive infrastructure of Internet to create a convergence of voice and data. Already, you can make free long distance phone calls on web via freephone.com or visitalk.com. Soon, you'll actually be able to call Internet from any telephone and ask for website information, stocks, weather, make reservations, etc. The system searches Net for information you seek and reads it back to you in a calm, friendly voice. While both fast emerging industries, VoIP will not achieve critical mass until a few kinks are worked out.
For long distance, unreliability of Internet and instability of browsers and applications are concerns. Consumers will likely still be willing to pay 5 cents a minute for something they KNOW always works way they need it to. We've used telephones all our lives and that will be difficult to change especially if it sacrifices reliability. For voice portals, question is not only who wants to surf net on a phone but of security issues involved. V-commerce or Voice commerce will likely replace e-commerce but, again, bugs are in need of innovation but implications are tremendous. Imagine asking your database a question while conferencing with a partner on your mobile phone. Or visitng a website and asking product questions or ordering.
WAP - Wirless Application Protocol (WAP) is standard language developed by WAP Forum (a consortium of major telecommunications, Internet and software companies) to bring Internet onto wireless devices such as smart phones and Personal Digital Assistants (PDA). WAP is language used to convert HTML websites into sites that are viewable on small, text-only screens now available on most mobile phones. While still in its infancy, great strides are being made in infrastructure, quality, security and applications. International Data Corporation has even predicted that there will be more wireless web subcriptions than PC Internet subscriptions by 2003. It is further believed that at some point after that, PC will simply become a peripheral to PDA or phone.