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					eCommerce - A Critical Evaluation Of
Technology (ECRETA)
Lecturer Name: Dr Carl Adams




Individual Element

Michael Pegg - 211064




Word Count: 1497
Our project aim was to identify and develop an e-commerce based idea that would have a positive
outcome, be this economically beneficial or otherwise. To identify an idea that met these
requirements our project group decided two stages of development were necessary. Firstly a
brainstorming exercise was used to generate the largest possible number of ideas within this initial
wide context format, this idea was chosen to enable all group members to openly air ideas and
achieve the maximum possible number of ideas, let’s call this ‘Idea Generation’. Within this Idea
Generation period we initially wrote down the simple idea followed by assigning each to set criteria
to judge each idea’s relative worth, the criteria were (Cost, Limits, Needs and Environment). To show
an example of this I have listed two such ideas from our Idea Generation, one that was successful to
the next stage and one that was not.

Idea                    Cost                   Limits           Needs                     Environment
Electronic exam         Average: cost of       System can       Accurate way of           Education,
paper (bio, eye         sufficient devices     crash,           verifying exam taker,     Security
scanning, finger        to cover exam          interception     quicker and less need
print) 1984-style TV    periods                of data-         for an
screens for viewing                            hacking,         examiner/invigilator
exam takers                                    cheating         to be present during
                                                                an exam which can be
                                                                highly distracting
Smart-phone-based       Minimal: initial       GPS              Safer, don't have to      M-commerce,
credit card reader      device, consumer       reception,       deal with or carry        Internet
for small businesses    market, PayPal or      security, cost   around large amounts      infrastructure
(ideal for travelling   such may generate      of use           of cash
salesmen, market        income
stall owners, taxis)
Figure 1


This Idea Generation gave us a total of twenty six ideas that were viable choices for progression. To
progress to the second stage of selection we discussed within the group which final four of these
twenty six were the most viable ideas based on the criteria set; this gave us the ability to move
forward to further detailed evaluation of ideas. After much deliberation four ideas were chosen to
be further assessed. The final four ideas were then described in sufficient detail to get a firm grasp of
their potential. The criteria used for this were Synopsis, Unique Selling Points, Environment,
Technologies and Competition; we decided this covered the broad idea well enough to gain
sufficient insight. From these four generated possible project synopsises we performed a SWOT
Analysis on each. A SWOT Analysis is “an evaluation tool used to show the strengths, weaknesses,
opportunities, and threats of [any] project or business venture” (WILLIAMSON, David, 2003) and as
such was an ideal evaluation tool to aid us in progression.

I will now discuss the final idea chosen via the SWOT analysis however, full SWOT analysis results can
be found in the group work appendix. The final idea chosen was not the idea with the most results in
each category or the idea with least completion, it was however the idea the entire group decided
was currently not in use, was the most exciting and was certainly possible to develop further.

The chosen Idea was for a “Smart-phone-based credit card reader for small businesses” that the
SWOT analysis had garnished with some interesting Unique Selling Points after a keyword search of
competitors, these being that it could be “Lightweight and portable so that it can be taken

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anywhere”, it was “Ideal for salespeople” and that there was an “increasing trend [for mobile
payment]”. Also competition was minimal in this new market and existing competitors all had
limiting aspects. To progress our project we decided to use these limiting aspects to our advantage,
the flaw, we reasoned, was that none of them offered any medium for payment via more secure
methods such as chip-and-pin, faster emerging methods such as contactless payment or the most
common online form of payment PayPal.

Now we had progressed successfully and chosen our final idea we decided to split into individual
assessment groups in form of Managers, we decided this was the best method to deal with varying
issues ensuring we kept communication close to ensure any issues or ideas would be spread and
discussed. The roles set were that of Business, Risk, Marketing and Technical. I had the role of
Technical. To assess the project technically it was important to be attentive to the chosen Marketing
plan to ensure I was aware of the medium of sale and what was deemed important to develop,
aware of the business aspects of the idea to know what was and what was not feasible and also risk
to know what areas must be either avoided or closely scrutinized.

The first area that had to be investigated was that of the market and the customers who may buy
purchase the product. We earmarked the customer base, eager for a device that would enable
remote, cheap mobile transactions were that of mobile salesman, be that door-to-door salesmen,
taxi drivers or market stall owners. It soon became apparent from this consumer group that price,
ease of use and security were going to be important areas of focus. To make such an idea the
development of the device must connect to as many possible existing smartphones as possible to
ensure widest possible reach and minimal cost to customers, it would also ensure ease to use due to
customers already being versed in its use. Current smartphones have advanced significantly in
recent years are now “the fastest growing segment of the mobile phone market” (GONSALVES,
Antone, 2010). The spread of these devices results in the ability to offer minimal-style devices to
customers to reduce cost and utilize existing technology.




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Utilizing this existing technology gives many advantages, for this project the existence of the mobile
3G data networks that offer coverage for “98% of the [UK] population” (THOMAS, Miles, 2010) are
exactly what is required for this project. This network enables, through HSDPA, speeds of up to “14.0
Mbit/s” (AGILENT TECHNOLOGIES, 2009) which is ideal for the needs of our project. To conduct
banking transactions we had several options, we could invest in a new infrastructure to conduct
transactions, which we deemed to be too expensive for our project, we could use only an online
method of payment, the leading choice being PayPal however, we felt limiting ourselves to this
method would limit our customer reach. Due to these reasons we decided it was best to use the
existing banking infrastructure for payment methods, enabling PayPal as an additional option and
simply add two extra steps to traditional payment transactions, these being sending to (Figure 2,
step 3) and receiving back transactions between merchants and customers (Figure 2, step 6) to
ensure control of the system. The system devised is as such:




    Figure 2




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The possible success of this project is ideally accessed via a similar SWOT analysis as used and
described in the Idea Generation and final four idea stages.

Strengths:

       Mobile transactions possible
       Offers contactless payment (not offered by competitors)
       Offers PayPal payment (not offered by competitors)
       Uses existing Smartphones (reduces cost and improves usability)
       Utilises existing network infrastructure (minimises initial cost)


Weakness:

       Compatibility with existing smartphones (proprietary technology)
       Fast moving environment (payment methods and technology)
       Reliant on banking and 3G networks


Opportunities:

       Increase in smartphone use
       First to market with chip-and-pin and contactless payments
       Significant market growth


Threats:

       Banks may produce their own payment methods
       A slow uptake of devices may result in higher chance of failure due to the fast changing
        environment.


The SWOT analysis shows considerable favour to the strengths of the project however there is no
certainty in project success due to the very existence of any threats or weaknesses evident. The
reliance on existing networks for remote data transfer and also existing banking infrastructure that
enables a cheap, reliable method of delivery may also be the source of the main hindrance and
threat to project success. Mobile technologies that offer payment via sites like PayPal bypass the
existing banking infrastructure and remove the standard 3% taken by banks for all transactions, this
removal of payment may induce banks to withdraw access to their systems for other companies, as
utilised in our project in favour of another method which ensures they make still make their profit. It
is also important to consider the users of our possible device, with technology changing at current
speed will our technology be as possibly lucrative as it is today in a years time.




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Bibliography
AGILENT TECHNOLOGIES. 2009. HSDPA Concepts. [online]. [Accessed 5 April 2010]. Available from
World Wide Web:
<http://wireless.agilent.com/rfcomms/refdocs/wcdma/wcdma_gen_bse_hsdpa_concepts.php>

GONSALVES, Antone. 2010. Android Phones Steal Market Share. [online]. [Accessed 15 April 2010].
Available from World Wide Web:
<http://bmighty.informationweek.com/mobile/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=224201881>

THOMAS, Miles. 2010. 3 UK and T-Mobile's 3G Networks Get Bigger. [online]. [Accessed 19 April
2010]. Available from World Wide Web: <http://www.3g.co.uk/PR/April2010/3-UK-and-T-Mobiles-
3G-Networks-Get-Bigger-by-3G-co-uk.html>

WILLIAMSON, David. 2003. Strategic Management and Business Analysis. New York: Butterworth-
Heinemann.




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